We're just two days from BCS Championship Game pitting Notre Dame against Alabama. The game will aslo mean the end of college football's bowl season is winding down and, with it, the parade of 34 bowl games: The Belk Bowl, The Beef O'Brady's Bowl, The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and on and on. And yet I'm writing to propose yet another bowl game, one based right here in Chicago.
But rather than simply adding a new bowl to the already excruciatingly long list of bowl games, I'm suggesting we first scale down the number of bowl games, a reorganization that will coincide with the new playoff structure coming in 2014. Sure, we should keep the Cotton and Capital One bowls, but is there any need to hang on to the Russell Athletic Bowl or Idaho Potato Bowl? I can't imagine Shreveport, Louisiana being high on the list of places a college athlete would like to visit during his Christmas break.
So let's lean up the bowl lineup, make the bowls a reward to reach once more, and make Chicago a holiday destination for another reason. If they can play a bowl game outdoors in NYC in December, then doing the same in Chicago in December shouldn't be an issue. And it's not like we don't have the clout necessary to elevate the Chicago Bowl Game to major status. Mayor Emanuel is a shark who can berate the NCAA into plopping a major bowl game into the country's third-largest city. Think of the influx of cash a bowl game on New Years Eve could bring to the city.
So without further ado, here are five modest proposals for Chicago's Bowl Game.
WHAT: The Bank of America Chicago Bowl
First off, yes, there's a corporate sponsor. If you like college football and expect in this day and age to have a bowl game without a corporate sponsor, than good luck to you, sir or madame, in fulfilling an impossible dream. So, yes, sponsors. Bank of America already sponsors the marathon so what's one more sporting event?
WHO: BIG 10 versus BIG 12
WHY: There are already three BIG 10 vs Big 12 bowl games: the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (formerly the Copper Bowl), the Heart of Texas Dallas Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. But none of these three games would be tragic losses if they were wiped out and they only get mid-tier teams. If we're going to reshuffle the bowl lineup, let's do a thorough job and give our bowl better pickings.
2013 PAIRING: Northwestern or Michigan vs Texas. Sure, it might feel like a mismatch, but a major, legendary program coming to play in the cold against the "hometown" Northwestern team would have been a hell of a game.
WHAT: The Goose Island Windy City Bowl
WHO: BIG 10 versus SEC
WHY: There are enough SEC-BIG 10 match-ups already (Outback, Capital One Bowl, usually a BCS Bowl) so why one more? All of those bowls are in warmer climes and the Outback and Cap One Bowls are in SEC Country (Florida). Why not make those SEC teams travel for once and face off on the Big 10's cold home turf? (Full disclosure: I'm a die-hard Auburn - and, therefore, SEC-biased - fan, yet I still support this.) The SEC fans (including myself) have been squawking about national dominance for years. How will those teams fare on the cold, mangled turf of Soldier Field instead of the warm, friendly confines of the Superdome or Tampa?
2013 PAIRING: Northwestern versus South Carolina. Who wouldn't want to watch Steve Spurrier slam his clipboard on the icy ground while wearing earmuffs? It'd also be an aerial game along the windy shores of Lake Michigan which could create all sorts of fun havoc.
WHAT: The Chase Bank Broad Shoulders Bowl
Yes, the name is kind of lame. But Little Cesars Bowl isn't? Besides, part of the appeal needs to be to tourists and traveling fan bases so that means playing into some of those things outsiders identify with our city, even if we think they're silly. That doesn't mean we have to put Capone on the logo, though that would be kind of cool.
WHO: BIG 10 versus MAC or C-USA Champ
WHY: Because this match-up keeps it an all-regional affair and it gives a mid-tier conference the chance to run with the big boys and prove their worth. This game would be way more fun than most would think.
2013 PAIRING: Michigan or Northwestern versus NIU or Tulsa. Any one of those match-ups would have been great but can you imagine the hype for a Northwestern-NIU game? It would have been the one thing sports fans in this city could have looked forward to with optimism in ages (or at least since the Bears began their slide in mid-October).
WHAT: The Marshall Field's Bowl sponsored by Sprint
Throw a bone to the locals, Sprint. Now that you've taken over U.S. Cellular, make a gesture of goodwill. If AT&T can sponsor the Rose Bowl, you can sponsor a fledgling Chicago-based bowl game and call it whatever the hell you want.
WHO: BIG 10 versus PAC 12
WHY: Speaking of the Rose Bowl, it's the only match-up between these two conferences during Bowl Season. Why isn't there another? The BIG 10 is affiliated to face the Big 12 and SEC in three bowl games each. Besides, adding a second BIG 10-PAC-12 game doesn't diminish the historic luster of the Rose Bowl; consider that the Rose Bowl rep for the BIG 10 was an 8-5 team this year anyway and that due to the BCS rotation, the Rose Bowl - which had previously been a thorn by NOT participating in the BCS - doesn't ALWAYS have a BIG 10-PAC-12 game.
2013 PAIRING: Nebraska versus Oregon State. Had Penn State and/or Ohio State found themselves eligible and played in the BIG 10 championship game instead, maybe this spot goes to the more locally-oriented Wisconsin team to draw fans. But this pairing still would have been a fantastic game with plenty of scoring and would have given fans a match-up that's rarely seen.
WHAT: The Hot Doug's City of Chicago Graft Bowl
WHO: The NCAA/Big East Champs versus The City of Chicago government
WHY: Because what better to end the year than with a meeting of financially irresponsible, hypocritical, bungling juggernauts? The NCAA is an archaic joke that makes billions of hard-working students who aren't allowed in any way to profit from their endeavors lest they and their institution face a stiff penalty, but only years after the fact which means said penalties wind up usually being hammered down upon innocents who must suffer anyway. And the City of Chicago government is an archaic joke that manages to stay millions of dollars in debt despite high taxes and does fun things like sell off the parking meters for only a percentage of their value while the citizens suffer the extra costs.
2013 PAIRING: NCAA/Louisville versus Rahm Emanuel. The NCAA is in such disarray it's hard not to think the Emanuel administration would have run away with this one. Though Louisville proved a pretty tough match in dismantling the Florida Gators in this week's Sugar Bowl so who knows?