Thoughts on a huge sports weekend
By Mike Gilpatrick
December 28th, 2017
December 28th, 2017
This weekend is the biggest Cardinal Sports weekend left this year. Not just because it’s the last weekend of 2017, but because men’s basketball takes on Kentucky in the Battle of the Bluegrass, and football wraps up 2017 in the Taxslayer Bowl against Mississippi State.
I have a few things to say about each.
First, the battle of the bluegrass.
I don’t need to explain why this game is huge. Everyone in the state of Kentucky are passionate about the Cats or Cards, and this year will be no different. But Louisville does not play well in Rupp Arena. If the Cards are to win, they must learn to finish games. The Cards have allowed the other team to come back in most of their wins. The Cards went cold for six minutes against Grand Canyon late in the second. Louisville was gifted a win by Albany, with a missed game-winning three. If Louisville is to down Calipari and co., they can’t let the Cats come back. They need to build a lead, and maintain it until the final buzzer.
If Louisville does win, however, it will cap a tremendous year for the Cards against Kentucky. Louisville downed the 10th-ranked Cats in baseball’s Super Regional, two games to none. They trounced the Cats 3-1 in Women’s Soccer. Jeff Walz and Co. shelled the Cats 87-63 in Lexington, behind Asia Durr’s 32-point performance.
And who can forget the revenge game against Mark Stoops. When Lamar Jackson and company dominated Kentucky Football 44-17 in Kroger Field. If the Cards down Kentucky at Rupp tomorrow, it will be the icing on the cake for Louisville athletics.
Speaking of Football, The Cards have their last game of 2017 this Saturday, against Mississippi State. Many predict it will be Jackson’s last game in a Cardinal Uniform. If it is, it’ll be the only storyline for the game. Todd Grantham already went to Florida. The Bulldogs are with a new coaching staff. No one cares about Peter Sirmon facing his old team.
This game, as with the bulk of bowl games, have became essentially worthless. In fact, many players around the country are sitting out their bowls, avoiding potential injuries that would eliminate their NFL draft hopes. Jaire Alexander is one of them. And you really can’t blame him.
The only bowls that matter are the College Football Playoff bowls, and maybe the New Year’s Six. Every other is just an extension of a season that ended in late November. If the current trend continues, bowl games will become a spring game against a different squad. Many more players will sit out.
So, how do you fix it?
You can’t dissolve games. There’s too much corporate sponsorship. Too many dollars for colleges to say no.
The Only way to make bowls matter again is to drastically expand the College Football Playoff. I’m not talking about jumping from four to eight. I’m talking about four to 32, or even 64. I’m talking about creating a tournament, much like every other sport in the NCAA.
If there’s five or six rounds that a team must go through, then suddenly the Boca Raton Bowl becomes relevant. People start to care about the Foster Farms, or Heart of Texas Bowl. The 39 bowl games are played for, and a reward for teams. If teams win a bowl game, they move to another.
Here’s my system. For this example, we’ll use 64 teams, and a maximum of six rounds, including the national championship. The first-round will include nine lower-level bowls, and 23 neutral-site locations. The winners will move to the second-round, which will feature 16 mid-level bowls. Then, the sweet 16, with eight higher-level bowls. Finally, the “Elite Eight” and the “Final Four” will feature one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
That’ll be a lot of football. Much like March Madness, the College Football Playoff will become “December Madness”. Teams would be fighting for a national championship, as opposed to just another win. There will be just one round per week, keeping it like what teams are used to.
I doubt if the NCAA would go for it. Honestly, I think 32 teams is enough. That’s almost half of bowl-competing teams. There wouldn’t be much debate over snubs, like how Alabama got in over Ohio State this year. Fans would also pack whatever stadium their team is sent to, just to watch their squad fight to move on for a national title.
Honestly, I think it’ll be years before the playoff expands. That doesn’t make it any less necessary. Something must change to make bowl games matter again.
2017 will end on a huge sports weekend. Both the Battle of the Bluegrass and the Taxslayer Bowl should be fun.
Happy New Year!