COLUMN: Do Bowl Games still matter?

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Today during the Gophers’ thrilling 30-24 victory over Bowling Green in the prestigious Quicklane Bowl, two things dominated my timeline; Cole Kramer and Katie Miller’s upcoming wedding and people telling me, “It doesn’t matter it’s the Quicklane Bowl.” So I asked myself, like most fans of college football do around this time of year, how important are bowl games?

This time yesterday, I had little to no excitement in getting to watch my favorite football team play Bowling Green in Detroit. But this morning, I unexpectedly was able to get away from work and watch the game. After an early TD from the Eagles, I quickly got invested. I caught myself reacting to this game like it was vs. Illinois in November at Huntington Bank Stadium. When the Gophers responded with a TD of their own, Special Team’s coordinator Rob Wegner and the Minnesota staff cooked up a doozy of a 2pt conversion attempt with their All-B1G kicker Dragan Kesich rolling left in a 1v1 race to the pylon. I asked myself, “What was the point of that?” Throwing that question in multiple group chats and to my own Twitter feed, many of my friends, family and followers responded saying, “It doesn’t matter it’s the Quicklane Bowl.”

So while, an early game 2pt conversion against Bowling Green in December ultimately doesn’t mean much, or really anything at all when it comes to analyzing the long-term future of this program. I wondered how much the result of this game matters at all. When this game was announced, I believed that P.J. Fleck needed to do everything he could to avoid a bowl game loss to Bowling Green. Given the recent history both programs have had together, I thought a loss to the Eagles, falling to 5-8 on the season, would’ve damaged his overall image as a coach and the overall image of the program. But people continued to tell me today, “It doesn’t matter it’s the Quicklane Bowl.”

I believe that playing in a bowl game still matters in the grand scheme of modern college football. I think everything leading up to the game like extra practice, publicity from the bowl itself and travel to a destination matter for building a program. I want to believe that the result matters as much as a non-conference game, but my followers told me, “It doesn’t matter it’s the Quicklane Bowl.”

A bowl game should be a celebration of a season. I believe that was the original point for teams to play in games like the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, or Cotton Bowl and while 38 other games have been added, I think that theme should still ring true. I don’t think there are too many Bowls, I think they hold extreme value for many programs. But I still don’t know how much the result matters. Postgame, my Twitter timeline has been flooded with graphics saying P.J. Fleck is 5-0 in Bowl Games and the Gophers have won seven straight Bowl Games as a program. So at the end of the day analyzing the importance of a Quicklane Bowl victory vs. Bowling Green might be a waste of all our time, but I think Tuesday’s victory encapsulated a season that was all over the place. It was a rather sub-par win vs. a sup-bar Bowl Green team capping off a sub-par season.

While I might slowly be turning into a senile old man, I do believe any win vs. a Division I opponent should be celebrated and Minnesota should celebrate its victory over the Eagles. But I think taking a step back and realizing that they’re celebrating a 30-24 win over Bowling Green on a neutral field with opt-outs all over the field as “Champions” in a “meaningless” game, while Bowling Green beat Minnesota on its own field 822 days ago, albeit putting a wrench in their race for a B1G Conference Title appearance, leaves a weird taste in my mouth.

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