College football being dominated by money, rather than tradition

While it is dandy that 6-6 Tech has potentially reached bowl eligibility for the 16th consecutive season (assuming that even with a loss in the ACC Championship a waiver is approved), it’s highlighting  one of the many problems occurring in the college game today.

Isn’t it kind of sad that a team and its fanbase are celebrating winning only half of their games in a season just to go to a bowl?

In our modern era of college football we’re seeing 6-6 teams headed to one of 35 bowl games, teams breaking traditional conference ties by switching their allegiances and coaches being fired after a season or two all in the name of the dollar.

We’ve seen evident examples of the latter two this season with Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, Auburn firing Gene Chizik two years after winning a national title and Southern Miss firing their new head coach Ellis Johnson after his first season. Granted, there is some sense of justification to the firings and even the move by Maryland, but the rate at which these events are happening is absurd and can only be explained by one thing: money.

The fact that there are 35 bowl games is mind blowing enough—70 of 124 FBS teams are eligible—but looking at some of the bowl names can almost make someone sick to their stomach. The Gator Bowl? Are you kidding me? What happened to the good old days when teams just played in the well-respected Gator Bowl?

Sure, bowls have always been sponsored by someone, but the fact that the entire bowl is being named after companies like these is just depressing.

Now, when it comes to conference realignment, it saddens me to see teams throw away tradition all in the name of money.

Maryland is one of the sadder examples of this, leaving the ACC after being a member since 1953 to join the Big Ten. While Maryland will most likely have to pay a hefty $53 million dollars to leave the ACC, they are primarily leaving for a lucrative $24.6 million per year in television revenue provided thanks to its friends at the Big Ten Network.

Yeah, that’s a nice upgrade over the approximately $17 million they would make with the ACC’s TV deals, but I hope that the extra cash makes throwing away tradition worth it.

Finally, head coaches are getting fired quicker than ever in the sport. Ellis Johnson’s firing at Southern Miss might be the worst, but there have been other equally bad cases in recent years including Colorado’s John Embree being fired after two seasons a few days ago.

In the past, the general idea in college football was that coaches would be given four to five seasons to gain some recruits that fit their system and be given the chance to show signs of success. With the win-now mentality, though, fans are clamoring for a coach’s head if he doesn’t get to a bowl in his first season.

I’m sure there are even more problems to be discussed in the college football landscape, but if money continues to demolish some of the tradition of the sport, it will definitely lose the special place it has in many people’s hearts.