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Chick-Fil-A Bowl Sets Record

By Jay Coulter

I don’t know about you, but I was a bit underwhelmed by this year’s bowl games. I’ve been that way since this BCS madness started eight years ago.

I won’t confess to watching every bowl game, but I did watch my share. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl matching Auburn and Clemson was without question the best contest of the bowl season.

Television ratings back up this claim.

In addition to being the third highest attended bowl game of the year, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl had the highest rating of any ESPN televised bowl this season. It was the most watched game in the bowl’s history, pulling a rating of 5.09 or nearly five million people.

The Atlanta-based bowl is one of the best run, most entertaining games of the year. I hope that down the road the SEC moves the game up on its priority list. Outside of New Orleans and Orlando, there’s no better SEC bowl tie-in than the Chick-Fil-A.

This leads to my next point...

You’ve undoubtedly read about Georgia president Michael Adams recent eight-team bowl playoff proposal. This is not the first time a president of a university has called for a playoff after his school felt snubbed by the BCS system.

Adams has been getting slammed nationally for his stance on the subject after refusing to join Florida president Bernie Machen in his proposal for a playoff last year.

It’s real easy to dismiss Adams as just another president who’s making some noise because his school feels slighted. But this time may be different. I’m not suggesting that Adams will push through an eight-team playoff.  The odds of that happening are slim and none.

However, Adams carries weight within the NCAA system.  He serves as chairman of the executive committee of the NCAA. When he talks, people listen. There’s more support among college presidents than the institution would have you believe.

Listening to 60/20 Sports with James Carville and Luke Russert on XM Radio this week, Adams laid out a very strong case for a full-blown playoff. He was articulate and handled every objection with ease.

I’ve always been in favor of an eight-team playoff. Forget the Plus One proposal. That gets you little more than you have now. The bowl games this season were sleepers. I can count on three fingers the number of entertaining games played.

The matchups were terrible.  If I have to watch one more SEC/Big 10 matchup, I’m going to take up shopping on QVC.

Do you remember when New Year’s Day bowls meant something? Why do Fox Network and the BCS torture us with nightly bowl games that mean zero?

The national media likes to point the fingers at the school presidents. They are partly right. But to be more specific you need to point the finger at the presidents of the Big 10 and Pac 10. These are the two conferences that are holding up a national playoff.

Coincidentally, they are also the only two major conferences without conference championship games.

Tom Hansen, the president of the Pac 10 has been most vocal about not having a playoff. He said last summer that the Pac 10 would walk away from the NCAA if it instituted even a plus-one format.

The reason is simple. Outside of USC, the Pac 10 is a sham. The same goes for the Big 10 – see this year’s BCS Championship Game.

It’s time for the SEC’s presidents to step in and support this latest proposal – including Auburn’s Jay Gogue who has so far stayed quiet on the subject.

Schools around the country need to call the Big 10 and Pac 10’s bluff. Do you honestly believe these two conferences would walk away if pushed? If they don’t want to play, then fine. They can form a 21 team league and see how many fans they draw.

There are still many that love the bowl system. No problem.  Incorporate it into the new playoff system. It’s time for the most exciting sport in the country to have an ending that everyone can be proud of – and live with.