CLEVELAND - It's a seasonal ritual as predictable as Aunt Cathy wearing a cheesy sweater to your annual family Christmas gathering.
Each and every December, the selection of bowl games is just as mind-boggling as the year before and the one before that. It almost certainly leaves your head spinning. Even when there's no controversy over the two teams playing for the title there is still plenty that simply doesn't add up.
Example one in 2012: the local feel-good story Kent State Golden Flashes, a top 25 team that lost just two games. After one of its best seasons in school history, there's no doubt the players will, and should, revel in going to a bowl game, the program's first in 40 years. But they deserve more.
A loss in the MAC Championship game, in double overtime, does not warrant the massive free fall that college football's haphazard system perpetuates. Ranked 17 in the BCS coming into the game, a win for Kent State would have in all likelihood propelled them to the top 16 and a spot in the Orange Bowl, especially after Nebraska and UCLA losses.
The Flashes lost to top 25 Northern Illinois in a valiant effort on the doorstep of an unprecedented feat. Their reward for that is a trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Arkansas State of the Sun Belt. They don't get a shot to be a Boise State and become national sweethearts.
Northern Illinois gets a trip to Miami and the BCS against ACC champion Florida State. Kent State goes to Mobile and a bowl named after a website that lets you create a domain. Not the way their season should come to a close. A cruel system it certainly is.
It's not just the proverbial little guys that get the shaft either. Take example two this bowl season, Georgia. A heartbreaking, close loss to Alabama moves the Bulldogs from a potential chance at a title to the Capital One Bowl.
The 'Dawgs don't even get to play in one of the top BCS games. Losing a de facto national semifinal minimizes them to a matchup with a team that just gave up 70 points to a five-loss team in their conference championship game. Some reward, eh?
Again the BCS has failed to give fans the best matchups. Northern Illinois justifiably earns a spot by finishing in the top 16 and ahead of an automatic-qualifying conference champion. Yet they do not take the place of that team, unranked Louisville, defeating any value of the provision.
It doesn't make sense. The BCS and bowl system have long been full of these ludicrous inequities.
Continually lost in this is a fulfilling end to one of sport's most exciting regular seasons. Bowls often fall flat because they fail to capture the unpredictability and excitement of the games that precede them.
Unlike college basketball where 68 teams have a shot at a championship, just two do in college football's final stanza. The rest of the games are just cash cows full of sometimes nice vacations for players depending on a bowl's location and pride. Stakes are diminished. The little guy rarely gets a shot to slay the Goliath.
When they do, like in the case of Northern Illinois this year, pundits gripe about why that's the reason the system is flawed.
But really that's where college football fails.
Kent State should have a shot to take on one of the establishment powerhouses. The Flashes deserve a shot to make a splash, like Ohio did in basketball upsetting Georgetown and Michigan in two of the past three seasons in the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia deserves a shot at a bigger game in primetime on the national stage. But they won't get that either.
Big or small you're always at risk of getting screwed in this system where too many have to feign excitement when really they're not getting their just due. Months of buildup end in a payoff that leaves you feeling empty, kind of like clicking a broken web link, especially when it comes to Kent.
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