About three weeks ago, word got loose that the Brigham Young Cougars were investigating hosting a new bowl game. As an independent football team with no conference bowl tie-ins, this is one solution to the annual dilemma: Will BYU have a bowl to play in? When I first heard the news, I thought it was a bad idea. Besides the fact that BYU will probably have better offers in 2014, all the other issues surrounding forming a great bowl game come into play: quality competition, competitive payout ($1 million minimum), and adverse weather conditions.
Bottom line, I don’t think the BYU Bowl is viable. There is only one scenario that might be worthwhile: blend the BYU bowl and the Holy War.
The BYU-Utah rivalry will continue at least until 2012. The long-term future is uncertain. Suppose that the rivalry does not continue, for any reason, after the two games that are already scheduled. A new bowl game could present an interesting venue to continue the rivalry.
Obviously, if BYU or Utah qualifies for a BCS bowl, then the match-up would not take place. Otherwise, an annual bowl date would work around the other issues that may prevent the rivalry from continuing, such as Pac-12 scheduling mandates or Utah trying to avoid the BCS repercussions of losing to “non-AQ” BYU.
This way the rivalry would return to being played at the end of the year. The bowl game would be a guaranteed sell out. Travel costs would be minimized. Players and fans would find plenty of reasons to be excited and motivated regardless of the record and how the year played out, which might not be the case with a Christmas day bowl or another obscure bowl.
This idea would adjust the traditional expectations of what a bowl game is. It would feel awkward the first few years staying at home. The suspense over the last few weeks of the season about who the opponent might be would be lost. How this might impact recruiting is a serious question mark. Getting the Pac-12 to agree would be another major obstacle.
Then again, what does BYU really lose?
Taking Utah off the regular season schedule would open a slot for BYU to strategically schedule one more team during the season that could pay recruiting dividends and give fans a great travel destination.
Seriously, what is the alternative? Playing the no. 9 team from the ACC, or the no. 4 team from the MAC? The chances of BYU booking a better team and more compelling match up in the regular season than what a new bowl would provide are pretty high. This regular season game could be at a marquee neutral site, thus enhancing the fan and player experience, the likelihood of the game being nationally televised, and the total number of casual fans who tune it to watch the game.
If worse comes to worst, maybe BYU would find this alternative appealing.
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