The good news is the bowl schedule for December and January has been set.
The bad news is there are only 37 bowl games, thus 74 slots, which is among the smallest number of games in recent years. This year will also be very different as every team is bowl-eligible regardless of how many wins it accumulates. That is a huge positive across college football, but it still means a program will need to be attractive in the eyes of bowl and network executives.
Programs like Florida State (2-4) should be attractive despite the struggles in year 1 under coach Mike Norvell. A win over No. 5 North Carolina is one such reason as are the ratings when FSU plays. The coaches would love the added practices leading up to a bowl game to expedite the development of players prior to the 2021 season, helping the Seminoles take a step forward. With five games left on the schedule, beginning on Nov. 7 at home against Pittsburgh, FSU would want to win a few more games to help secure a spot in a bowl.
After the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six games, the rest of the teams can be slotted to games without restriction. But Nick Carparelli, Executive Director of the Bowl Season group that was once named Football Bowl Association, thinks bowls that typically pick, for example, an ACC team will do so yet again in the 2020-21 bowl season.
“The majority of bowl games will adhere to their conference partnerships that they’ve worked so hard to put together,” Carparelli said in a Zoom interview with reporters. “The conferences will play a more active role.”
Geography will also play a significant role, helping players, parents, coaches and fans from traveling as far as they may have in prior years. If a team can be playing a bowl game close to home — think Florida State staying in state for the first time since Dec. 2016 — this would be the ideal scenario. Schools would also see significant savings in travel costs as well as hotel stays, with Carparelli noting the “bowl experience” could be maximized and be just two days as opposed to longer trips of five days to a week.
Governors as well as state and local health officials will also set guidelines for school administrators in regard to how many fans can watch in the stadium due to the pandemic. FSU fans have traveled to Shreveport, La., and El Paso, Texas, on recent bowl destinations but a shorter trip will have the potential to keep them safer.
“Geography is going to be important in placement this year,” Carparelli said. “They want to maintain some sense of regionality as much as possible, to minimize the distance the student-athletes have to travel and also to save some money.”
Players will be tested before games, similar to as they are in the regular season. But with games featuring teams from various leagues discussion would need to be had regarding an agreement on frequency of testing.
Carparelli also said he thinks the payouts between bowls, leagues and schools has been “altered in some shape or form.” He stated it is necessary in the long-term partnerships the bowls have with leagues but didn’t offer any idea of what percentage the payouts might be reduced by, a figure that will vary bowl to bowl as well as by how many fans will be in attendance.
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