The historical bowl system is a traditional staple of college football. It offers a unique postseason
of inclusiveness and excitement. Unfortunately, because it was never intended to be used for determining
a national champion, the bowl structure does not allow for consistent pairing of the nation's top teams
in direct competition. Further, the relationships between bowls and conferences often prohibits access
to historically disadvantaged (non-BCS) conferences.
||Old Bowl System
|Crowns a definitive and widely accepted
- EBS: A 12-team tournament ensures that
under most circumstances all teams worthy of an opportunity
to win a national championship are given that chance. The
"playoff" (one element of the EBS) is consistent with the
format used by every other NCAA team sport.
- Old Bowls: The old bowl system was not
designed to crown a national champion. Conference affiliations
and competition between the bowls to secure desirable teams
meant that teams fighting for a national title rarely met
on the same playing field. Even when they did, these were
often only two of many teams deserving of a chance at a title.
The champions were decided by pollsters rather than players.
|Ensures BCS conference champions play in
- EBS: All BCS conference champions are
ensured a spot in the 12-team EBS tournament.
- Old Bowls: While most conferences had
affiliations with major bowls, some, like the Big East and
ACC, did not.
|Maintains traditional bowl affiliations
for conference champions
- EBS: Teams receiving byes are placed
in bowls based on traditional bowl affiliations. However,
this allows for only one team to be placed per bowl and the
conference champion must be one of the four bye teams.
- Old Bowls: Traditional bowl affiliations
are a result of the old bowl system.
|Provides access to non-BCS conference champions
- EBS: The highest-ranked non-BCS conference
champion is guaranteed a spot in the post season.
- Old Bowls: Since non-power conference
teams were not deemed to have the financial draw sought by
the premier bowls, it was unlikely that small-conference teams
would play in these bowls.
|Provides access to all teams worthy of
a chance at a national championship
- EBS: With all six BCS conference champions,
at least one non-BCS conference champion, and potentially
five at-large bids, it is very unlikely that a team deserving
of a chance at the national title would be excluded.
- Old Bowls: Since no formal mechanism existed
to match up teams battling for a national title, the old bowl
system often proved to be a final testing ground for the #1
ranked team going into the bowl season. In 1980, an undefeated
Pittsburgh team was unable to challenge the #1 ranked team
in the country [Georgia] for the right for the national title.
|Prevents unworthy teams from having a chance
at a national championship
- EBS: With the possibility of a weak
conference champion and as many as five at-large bids, it
is possible a team with several losses would be included in
- Old Bowls: Since only teams with national
title hopes in the bowl system had any realistic chance of
winning a national championship, unworthy teams were not given
consideration by the voters
|Maintains the importance of the regular
season for teams with the same number of losses as the #1 ranked
team (i.e., an undefeated team)
- EBS: By making available first round
byes, even teams who have sewn up an EBS tournament berth still need
to maintain their standing as one of the top 4 teams.
- Old Bowls: In attempting to receive a
prestigious bowl invite, every game mattered to the bowl selection
|Maintains the importance of regular season
games for teams with one or two more losses than the #1 ranked
team (i.e., one loss teams when the #1 team is undefeated).
- EBS: Quality teams with only one or two
losses to top teams are still very much in the hunt for the
national championship. Although their path to a championship
is deservingly more difficult, for these teams, their regular
season is still “the most important regular season in collegiate
athletics.” Another loss would eliminate them from the tournament.
- Old Bowls: Teams not in the national championship
hunt entering the bowl season will not be considered for the
|Produces compelling matchups to attract
a national TV audience in majority of bowl games
- EBS: By the very nature of a national
championship tournament and because of a lack of potentially
lopsided matchups, all games are compelling.
- Old Bowls: The old bowl system produced
regionally attractive matchups, but the lack of competition
between national championship contenders prevented marquee
|Advances the interest in minor bowl games
- EBS: Because first round sites are hosted
by minor bowls, these bowls can leverage this added interest
to non-Tournament years. Non-tournament games get attention by
taking place during "bowl week," sandwiched between the first
round and the quarterfinals.
- Old Bowls: The old bowl system failed
to respect vested interest of minor bowls.
|Allows fans to enjoy the complete bowl
- EBS: The byes and extended period between
first and second round games allow fans to travel to bowl
sites and enjoy extend stays. The later-round games will continue
to be “destination events” where fans attend regardless of
competing teams. In the current system, only about 1/3 of
tickets for many bowls go to schools; rest are allocated to
annual renewals, corporate partners, and local residents.
- Old Bowls: Fans only need to plan on
attending one bowl game, allowing them to take extended vacations
and enjoy the complete bowl experience.
|Student-athletes not subjected to excessive
number of games
- EBS: Teams play at most four postseason
games, but given the fact that the highest-ranked, and presumably
best, teams receive a bye, teams expected to play in the championship
game would play at most three postseason games. At most a
team would play 16 games, similar to games played by national
champions in Division I-AA (15 games), Division II (15-16
games), and Division III (14-15). Unlike these division, those
at DI-A would benefit from a several week rest between the
regular season and the postseason.
- Old Bowls: Teams play only one postseason