September 30, 2009
The rumors have swirled for months, ever since Notre Dame and Army and every other major Northeastern school started leaping at a chance to schedule regular season games in the Bronx, and today it's official: The college football bowl season is taking its act to the new Yankee Stadium in 2010, courtesy of the New York Yankees, for -- what else? -- the Yankee Bowl.
... [S]tarting next season, the [Big East] will send its third or fourth team to a new postseason bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York, against the No. 7 team from the Big 12. The game will be played between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg called his city "the biggest college town in the country" in announcing the game, which he said will have a projected economic impact of $47-million from 40,000 visitors.
Take note, NYC Domers: If the Big 12 doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the slot, Notre Dame will take it, thanks. (That is, if it doesn't infringe on the Irish accepting a bid to one of the big-money BCS bowls. But, to paraphrase the NY Daily News, that hasn't been a problem lately.) Otherwise it's just that many more yokels needlessly crowding your streets during the holidays.
New York has its place (albeit a small one) in bowl history as host to the Gotham Bowl in 1961 and 1962, featuring such far-flung participants as Baylor, Utah State, Nebraska and Miami -- none of which, it turns out, were very enthusiastic about braving the north Atlantic winters, even to raise money for the March of Dimes, leading to the game's rapid demise after just two years. The old Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan hosted the first Gotham Bowl in '61, less than three years before that building was demolished (at least it outlasted the bowl game), and the 'Huskers and Hurricanes met for the first time in the postseason not in the Orange Bowl, as they would so many times for big stakes in the eighties and nineties, but in Yankee Stadium in '62.
It's hard to see how the addition of a 35th bowl to the bloated postseason lineup doesn't kill at least one of the existing games, a good number of which are propped up by ESPN and exist exclusively to bring in slightly better ratings on a slow afternoon than years-old footage of musclemen pulling buses with their teeth. All 34 bowls from last season have been renewed for this year despite the economic downturn, and outside of the 68 teams already represented in those games, only four eligible teams (Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State and San Jose State, all limping to the finish at 6-6 in the worst conferences in the country) were left at home in '08.
If that number held, regardless of the shuffling of specific conference tie-ins and obligations, a 35th game means only two eligible teams will be left out of the mix, no matter how rotten their seasons -- and a group hoping to raise money for cancer research in Orlando is still hoping it can take them. We're hitting the outer fringe of possibilities here: Either the ever-expanding bowl universe begins to contract or it's going to begin splitting at the seams.