Dienhart: Let's drop cupcakes from football schedules

Dienhart: Let's drop cupcakes from football schedules

On Tuesday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany suggested the notion of not having victories over Football Championship Subdivision opponents count toward a Football Bowl Subdivision team’s bowl eligibility, and that sounds good to me. A team needs six wins to be eligible for a bowl, but the NCAA currently allows one of those wins to be a victory over a FCS team. Without that “cupcake win,” there would be schools that don’t reach that six-victory minimum.

In fact, if such a rule was in place this season, neither Minnesota (winners over New Hampshire) nor Purdue (winners over Eastern Kentucky) would have been bowl eligible.

In the Big Ten this season, there were eight games against  FCS foes, who essentially are “blood donors” who get a large payday for going on the road and taking a likely beating to support their FCS school budgets. How lucrative can it be? Idaho got a $600,000 guarantee for agreeing to get pummeled at Nebraska this season. That’s a handsome sum for two black eyes.

[RELATED: Rose, Sugar bowls will host first playoff semifinals ]

In addition to Minnesota playing New Hampshire, Purdue playing Eastern Kentucky and Nebraska playing Idaho, Illinois played Charleston Southern, Northwestern played South Dakota, Iowa played Northern Iowa, Wisconsin played Northern Iowa and Indiana played Indiana State. Yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn and yawn.

The only Big Ten schools that didn’t play a FCS opponent were Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan. Take a bow for not “buying” a win, fellas. I appreciate it, and so do your fans.

If these games couldn’t be used toward bowl eligibility, it may mean some of the schools would dump the FCS foes and “schedule up” to give fans better matchups instead of lopsided games that few are interested in attending or watching.

While on the subject of eliminating some things with some tweaks, why not deep six some bowls? With 35 bowls, it’s hardly a special occasion. Consider this: 70 out of 120 FBS schools go to bowls. That’s 58 percent of the schools!

Scan the bowl crowds. Empty seats were rampant. Bowls have become about creating TV content, and it never was the intention of the bowl system to exist so TV networks could fill a noon ET time slot on a Monday in late December. Or, am I missing something?

Instead of a meaningless glut of bowls, why not just let every team schedule a 13th game? It makes more sense than sending schools across the country to play games in neutral sites that hardly anyone wants to see.

How utterly absurd is the current bowl system? Consider the outcry if you tried to install a similar system for the NCAA basketball postseason. Try selling this:

“Let’s take the top two schools in the nation and have them play a ‘championship game’ on a neutral site. Then, we will take the other 68 schools and match them up in a semi-random fashion and have them play a single game at neutral sites scattered across the nation.”

It sounds ridiculous just typing it, but that’s the bowl system. These bowls build toward nothing. Many times, schools seem disinterested in playing, or the teams are playing with an interim coach. And THIS is the apex of the season?

Do you think teams in the NCAA hoops tourney are “disinterested” or don’t want to be there? And how many NCAA tourney teams fire their coach and then qualify to play in March Madness?

So, anything to make bowl eligibility more difficult—or anything to eliminate most of the bowls—is good in my book.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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