“At best moronic, at worst an epic swindle”

That’s how this article from The Dallas Observer describes college football’s bowl system. The point of the article, believe it or not, is not that the BCS is a terrible way to decide a champion or that the bowl system is a diluted shell of what it traditionally has been. Instead, it makes a very cogent argument that the entire bowl system constitutes a giant transfer of funds from university budgets to marginally non-profit entities paying exorbitant salaries to a handful of executives.

As an academic and a college football fan, I’m obviously conflicted. This is one more arrow in the quiver of those who despise the emphasis on athletics in higher education, particularly at large state-funded institutions. Now, I’ve always found those arguments to be premised on ludicrous assumptions about the role of the academy. However, a situation like this one shows certain institutions actually losing money on the pursuit of nominal athletic glory, inevitably (although no one will admit it) at the expense of more worthy pursuits. I think college athletics – even big time, big money college athletics – have a place in the life of the university. I am finding it harder and harder to justify the financial sinkhole that constitutes the traditions of my favorite sport at the same time tenure-lines are being cut and tuitions are skyrocketing. Eventually, something’s going to have to give.

Also, Nebraska has lost its last two bowl games. That makes me dislike the system, too.

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