It seems that Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s fears in 2015 about the College Football Playoff have come to fruition as bowl games outside of the CFP have feelings of insignificance by both the media and fans.
All season long, every college football discussion came back to the CFP. “Sure Houston is good but can they make the playoff?” “Is Ohio State a lock for the playoff if they beat Michigan?” “But what if Oklahoma wins their conference? Are they in?” Every win was followed by how improved a team’s chances were to make the CFP and storylines were rarely talked about unless they involved cracking the top four.
USC won all of their last eight games, including wins over Colorado and Washington, but they were out of the conversation to make the CFP so they were practically ignored for most of the season. Houston was the talk of the town early in the season when they won five straight, but once they lost to Navy and dropped out of the CFP race they vanished from the public eye. Same thing happened to Louisville. And Tennessee. And Texas A&M. If you weren’t in the CFP discussion, you weren’t in any discussion.
And now that we are in the postseason of the college football season, any team left out of the CFP are practically ignored. Before the CFP was introduced in 2014, winning your conference was a huge accomplishment, but now it has been overshadowed by “Selection Day.”Now, winning the Big 10 and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl was viewed by the public as a disappointment if it didn’t include a playoff spot.
We are in a time now where bowls outside of the CFP just don’t matter as much as they used to. They’ve been diluted to the point where fans and members of the media just don’t think they’re very important on a national level. And when fans don’t think the games are important, the players start to feel that way too. So it’s no wonder why LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford runningback Christian McCaffrey both decided to skip the Citrus Bowl and Sun Bowl, repectively, in favor of preparing for the NFL Draft.
It says something that before their decisions to skip, no one was even talking about either of these bowls since all attention has been on the CFP. Maybe if people cared as much about these bowls then as they supposedly do now then they would’ve stuck around and played.
The quality of most bowl games has always been low, as the standard to get into the college football postseason has dropped dramatically over the years. So when bad games get paired with little coverage, nobody cares. The Bowl Season has never been the strongest postseason in sports by any means, but it has certainly reached a point where only four teams matter.