Attention, TV networks: I have a sure-fire moneymaker for you. I believe publishing this counts as copyright, so I’ll be generous and ask for only 50 percent of the proceeds. Here’s the idea:
A college football bowl draft.
This year, even more than most, the bowl system turned into the world’s worst matchmaking site. BCS rules and conference tie-ins have paired off all these beautiful teams into couples that have nothing in common. They’ll dance their awkward dance in Pasadena and Arlington when their true match might be in Orlando, or even Shreveport. Adele plays in the background.
A draft would be so much better. Leave the national title game (or, starting in 2014, the playoff games) out of it. You could do it in three tiers: The four BCS bowls; the rest of the New Year’s Day/Eve bowls (plus the Cotton); then everybody else. Starting at the top, each bowl picks two teams at a time. Will the Rose snatch Florida from the Sugar? Will the Outback reps throw Bloomin’ Onions in disgust as the teams they want disappear from the board? Wouldn’t you watch this as a 90-minute special on a Sunday night?
Here’s how it might’ve looked this year. I held a draft for the top 10 bowl games (again, not counting Notre Dame-Alabama) under four simple rules:
1. No rematches. Oregon would love another shot at Stanford. Too bad. Part of what makes the bowls special is getting to see teams that don’t play in the regular season.
2. Try to honor regional traditions, but don’t be tied to them.
3. Try to honor the BCS standings, but don’t be tied to them, either.
4. Pick entertaining matchups. That’s the whole point of bowl games, right?
Here’s the 2012 Bowl Draft. (It’s my draft, so I deployed the occasional frozen envelope to get the bowls in the order I wanted. Thanks, David Stern!)
With the first pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Rose Bowl (currently Wisconsin vs. Stanford) chooses: Florida and Stanford.
I don’t care if Wisconsin put 170 points on Nebraska -- five losses should be an automatic DQ from a BCS bowl. Together, Florida and Stanford beat more good teams this year than anyone else in the country. At this point in the season, either one might be as good as Notre Dame and Alabama. And the winner might be next year’s preseason No. 1.
With the second pick of the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Sugar Bowl (currently Louisville vs. Florida) chooses: Texas A&M and Georgia.
The SEC’s traditional bowl gets the team that beat Alabama and the team that almost beat Alabama. Johnny Heisman faces Jarvis Jones. Mark Richt faces Kevin Sumlin. And two sets of crazy SEC fans meet in New Orleans. Entertainment value: A-plus.
With the third pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Fiesta Bowl (currently Kansas State vs. Oregon) chooses: Kansas State and Oregon.
This is the one the bowls got right -- Old Testament (Bill Snyder and Collin Klein) vs. New Testament (Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota). Also known as the We Both Gacked the Same Night, or This Would Be the National Championship Bowl.
With the fourth pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Orange Bowl (currently Florida State vs. Northern Illinois) chooses: LSU and Oklahoma.
All respect to Northern Illinois, but the Orange Bowl would take this 100 times out of 100. The prospect of Oklahoma’s offense against LSU’s defense makes it worth suffering through the world’s longest halftime show. (Halftime show suggestion: A Tribute to Les Miles Trick Plays.)
With the fifth pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Cotton Bowl (currently Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma) chooses: Florida State and South Carolina.
The Cotton would probably prefer its current matchup, but drafting after the BCS bowls, they create the Bitter Blood Bowl: Florida State vs. former Florida coach Steve Spurrier, who once called FSU “Free Shoes University.” The lesson: Steve Spurrier makes any bowl better.
With the sixth pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Capital One Bowl (currently Georgia vs. Nebraska) chooses: Oregon State and Nebraska.
The Cap One keeps Nebraska, which gave up 70 to Wisconsin and might give up 80 to Georgia but has a traveling band of diehard fans. The Huskers have a better shot against Oregon State, but the Beavers had a sneaky-good season and deserve to move up from the Alamo Bowl.
With the seventh pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Outback Bowl (currently South Carolina vs. Michigan) chooses: Clemson and Northern Illinois.
This feels like a better fit for Northern Illinois -- the Huskies deserve a Jan. 1 bowl, but maybe not a BCS slot. And Clemson is still plenty good enough to make a NIU win an upset.
With the eighth pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Gator Bowl (currently Mississippi State vs. Northwestern) chooses: UCLA and Michigan.
Crooked Letter-Northwestern is a decent game for college football junkies, but I suspect plenty of good seats will be available. UCLA-Michigan would fill the house and match up UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Michigan’s Denard Robinson. It’s the Big Play Bowl!
With the ninth pick in the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Chick-fil-A Bowl (currently LSU vs. Clemson) chooses: Boise State and Louisville.
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater won his team the Big East by pulling off a Byron Leftwich at Marshall game. If he’s healed, and Boise gets up for big games like it usually does, this could be the gem of New Year’s Eve.
With the 10th pick of the 2012 Bowl Draft, the Sun Bowl (currently USC vs. Georgia Tech) chooses: Northwestern and Texas.
First off: Georgia Tech, at 6-7, doesn’t deserve to be in ANY bowl. USC, at 7-5, belongs somewhere in the MAACO Bowl area. The Sun deserves better. So they get Texas for the hometown crowd, and Northwestern as the last unpicked team in the BCS top 20. It’s a good game. They’re all good games. See how easy that was?
Questions? Comments? Challenges? Taunts? You can reach me at email@example.com or on Twitter @tommytomlinson. You probably have even better bowl matchups. But if your team is 6-6, they don’t belong in the Rose Bowl, sorry.