Created on Monday, 03 December 2012 02:41 Written by Opinions Desk
It looks like the Pitt football team will be playing in the BBVA Compass Bowl this year.
For the third straight year, a nonranked Pitt team will play a nonranked opponent in a nonimportant bowl game.
The fact that Pitt’s last three seasons have warranted bowl games at all should be seen as a total indictment of today’s bowl system — an uncompetitive, unsatisfying framework that sacrifices the long-term health of college football for blatant short-term monetary gain.
If you remain unsure or if you think Pitt’s selection is good for the program, we dare you to watch the horse and pony show leading to this year’s sure-to-be-classic event. We’ll hear about the promising young core and about Coach Paul Chryst’s turnaround. It’ll be great.
But in the end, everyone will see the BBVA Compass Bowl for what it is — a giveaway to both schools’ athletic departments.
Any efforts to justify this by equating the BBVA Compass Bowl to a playoff are just as ludicrous. Pitt finished 6-6 this year, a record undeserving of playoff consideration in any sane sporting system.
Since Pitt’s presence in any bowl this year does nothing to indicate the program’s relative strength within college football, it ultimately only does one thing for Pitt fans: It reinforces the idea that college athletics are nothing but the soulless profit wings of large universities.
Specifically, it’s one more example of the Sweet Caroline-ization of college sports. Rooms of people who hold MBAs, desperately seeking to maximize revenue streams and hatch kitschy and shallow schemes to increase fan interest. They make students sing after the third quarter. They make us dance before kickoff.
While this behavior is fine and appropriate for corporations selling cars or ketchup, in something as personal, emotional and free-of-irony as loyalty to a college team, it’s damaging in the long term and very shortsighted.
If you don’t see the danger in a bit of short term profiteering (football is a business, after all), just think about your emotional response when you see a sweatshirt for the BBVA Compass Bowl. When you see it, does your heart swell with Pitt pride? Do you begin whistling the alma mater?
Probably not. Instead, you probably dwell for a few moments on the athletic department’s profiteering and unnecessary wastes of time. Any short-term interest that our two trips to the BBVA Compass bowl has created has long since been eclipsed by erosive cynicism. In the long run, even the financial well-being of the organization was probably hurt by the move.
In many ways, the ascendency and popularity of Notre Dame this season proves the public is sick of this commoditization of college sports. With a perceived working-class mentality and old, defensive style of play, Notre Dame is the antidote to a world comprised of shifting conferences and a GoDaddy.com Bowl. And the fact that Pitt fans still exist at all proves that real loyalty remains for this program. We are by no means a bunch of bitter and cynical 20-somethings. But the trend lines seem to be pointing in that direction.
There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution for Pitt. Athletic Director Steve Pederson would face significant criticism if he rejected any bowl invite. The cohort of die-hard Pitt fans would be robbed of the chance to have a fun weekend away, and the football seniors would lose their chance to have one last hurrah.
It might also make it more difficult to convince promising high school seniors to play at Pitt in the future.
Thus, change needs to come from higher up. These bowls need to stop being an option for the Pitts of the football world. The viability of college football can only survive so many AutoZone Liberty Bowls or Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls.