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What if video games sponsored crappy college football bowls?

There's a Bitcoin Bowl. Did you know this? I just found out today. My alma mater may play in it. I find the idea of a Bitcoin Bowl fitting because, like the currency, most college football bowl games are made up, unnecessary, and eventually worthless.

With one full week left on the schedule we're now embarking on college football's bowl season, which is when American institutions of higher education send 85 of their students to perform in three-hour advertisements for steakhouse chains, lawn trimmers and defense contractors. All in the name of amateurism, of course.

For those who don't know anything about football or live in the United Kingdom, bowl games generally work like this: An organizing committee invites two universities to send their teams to play a game at an under-used stadium around New Year's Day. This "invitation" is really a "requirement" that the universities buy a huge chunk of tickets to the game, which they know they'll never turn around and sell to their disappointed alumni.

a lot of crappy teams are invited to a lot of crappy bowls

Through contracts with college conferences, there's a pecking determining when bowls get to pick their teams. Where a team finishes in its league or how many games it's won has nothing to do with it; bowl committees go for the teams that "travel well" (have a lot of fans that follow the team). Most people, however, don't like to "travel" to "Boise, Idaho"or "Shreveport, Louisiana" three days after "Christmas."

It doesn't take a genius to realize that, with 125 universities in major college football, and a record 39 bowl games needing 76 participants (two bowls will send their winner to an ultimate championship) a lot of crappy teams are invited to a lot of crappy bowls. Last year, 35 bowl games featured nine teams who entered the game with six losses in a 12-game season. Two of them played each other.

The bowl itself is as meaningless to most teams as it is to their fans. The big goal for the season, really, is just getting "bowl eligible," — i.e. six victories, half of them against creampuffs. During the season, media hype, via "bowl projection" stories and continually noting who has reached or is close to six wins, gets the public interested in the development of these games. Once they launch, no one gives a shit.

So, it's a lot like Kickstarter.

Come to think of it, Kickstarter should sponsor a bowl game, because in both cases someone's paying up front to create a product no one wants. That epiphany led me to today's thought exercise.

What if video gaming's biggest movers and shakers sponsored this year's college football bowl games? I think it would look like something like this:

  • The Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bowl would be unable to pair two teams.
  • The Assassin's Creed Unity Bowl would feature six players from Purdue against 13 Nippon Ham Fighters on a hockey rink. Playing basketball.
  • Teams need only three wins to be eligible for The Steam Early Access Bowl, which is held in September.
  • The PlayStation Bowl would require a 45-minute wait between the national anthem and kickoff while it updated the endzone art.
  • At The GamerGate Bowl, programs list players' height, weight, year in college, home address, parents' names and addresses, social security number, bank account number ...
  • The crowd at The Wii U Bowl watches the game on their handheld.
  • The Twitch Bowl would have the best ratings but would be completely unwatchable as playcalling and audibles at the line of scrimmage would be crowdsourced from four million viewers.
  • The Oculus VR Bowl would sell all of its tickets to teams from Conference USA, then turn around and invite Texas and Florida.
  • The DriveClub Bowl would be played in March. Maybe.
  • Konami's Pro Evolution Bowl features North Tarxas Tech against East Carolfornia. (thanks to Steve Ferrigan for this one.)
  • The IPO Bowl presented by Zynga would pair South Carolina (preseason No. 9 ranking) against Stanford (preseason No. 11) in a battle of 6-6 teams unranked at the end of the year.
  • At The EA Sports Bowl, players would be called "WR#89" and "LT#64" at the pregame steak-fry. A Russian military band would play both teams' fight songs.
  • Conversely, The NBA Live Bowl would be canceled two hours before kickoff.

Finally, an NCAA-sanctioned, official college football playoff inviting every conference champion — instead of asking a bunch of celebrities to pick four names from a hat — would be sponsored by Half-Life 3.

Roster File is Polygon's news and opinion column on the intersection of sports and video games. It appears weekends.

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