Don’t buy it.
Don’t buy what Bill Hancock is selling. Don’t buy what the conference commissioners are selling.
Certainly, don’t buy what Nick Saban is selling.
The Alabama Crimson Tide head coach has built up more than enough equity during his amazing career to have intelligent and respected opinions about his game.
But his latest comments about the College Football Playoff ruining the bowl system — what he claims he “fears the most” — couldn’t be further from reality.
What he “fears the most?” Really?
Not Gus Malzahn, not Ezekiel Elliott, not spread offenses, not his glaring weakness at quarterback.
But the BBVA Compass Bowl?
According to Saban, attention being removed from the Taxslayer Bowl is what keeps him up at night.
First, that’s more than difficult to believe. Second, it’s blatantly false.
Arkansas athletic director and chairman of the College Football Playoff Jeff Long couldn’t agree more.
"Well, I think sometimes coaches, particularly those at the highest level, I'm not sure how aware they are of what's really going on out there in the real world,” Long told Arkansas radio show Sports Talk with Bo.
The “real world” Long is referring to is television ratings and bowl expansion.
More people are watching bowl games than ever before. Remove the record-smashing playoff bowls from the equation — which lured roughly 90 million combined viewers for three games — and the average viewership for the remaining 36 bowls sits at over four million viewers per game (4,001,016 to be exact).
The lowest viewership in the 2013-14 bowl season — the last of the BCS Era — was the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which drew a paltry 332,000 viewers for the UNLV-North Texas showdown.
The lowest rated bowl game during the first Playoff season was the Camellia Bowl between South Alabama and Bowling Green, which drew more than three times the number of viewers at 1,110,000 sets of eyeballs.
Needless to say, fans are flocking to their televisions to watch the bowls like never before.
And how could the health of the bowl system be in question when the number of games continues to rise?
There were a record 39 bowls last year and not only is the system not suffering, but there is a chance that three more games will be added this fall.
That means 82 teams will play in a postseason game this season. It sounds like the bowl system is healthier than it’s ever been. Hell, bowl games are even being played outside of the country now.
Additionally, the College Football Playoff has increased the entire college football pie. With surging interest in the regular season and subsequent postseason tournament, the Playoff is elevating the entire sport to a new level of interest. Money is pouring into the sport from every angle at unprecedented rates.
Which, in turn, elevates interest and support for all 10 conferences, all 128 teams and all 42 bowl games.
Attendance numbers at bowl games are a concern but that isn’t anything that the entire sports world isn’t dealing with as well. Overall attendance numbers for big time college football were at record lows in 2014 and attendance at sporting events as a whole are reaching concerning benchmarks.
The in-home experience is more enjoyable and significantly more affordable than taking a family of four to the game — much less flying them to El Paso for a neutral field exhibition game.
That isn’t a bowl game problem, that’s a sports industry problem.
Generally speaking, head football coaches say things for a reason. What was Saban’s motivation behind these patently untrue and unfounded comments?
Maybe he’s just upset the entire world destroyed his team for losing to Ohio State on the biggest stage and no one cared nearly as much that Auburn lost to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.