What if (most) college football bowls were early in the season?

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of college football players who have retired from bowling games as they consider their future.

Last week, ESPN published a lengthy article in which a group of writers tried to reconfigure the annual college football schedule, and a change in when bowling games — at least most of them — are played was one of the modifications.

ESPN’s proposal would see fall camp run from July 21 through mid-August, then have (most of) bowl season from the third Saturday in August through Labor Day.

Bowl matches would be determined in April.

“Most importantly, we would create a 10-day college football extravaganza that would rival the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. It will be wall-to-wall bowl action – without competition from the NFL – to whet your appetite for the season ahead,” the group concluded.

They added: “And don’t worry, the most lore-rich bowls – the current New Year’s Sixes – are still played at the end of the season as part of our newly designed playoffs.”

The group then got feedback from people in the sport — conference commissioners, school athletic directors, coaches, players and others — about what they thought of the reconfiguration.

The proposal received mixed reactions, with some in the sport saying it was an idea worth considering and others saying they didn’t like it.

“Your first reaction is, ‘Well, that sounds crazy.’ But maybe there’s something to it,” said Doug Gillin, Appalachian State athletic director.

“I think that would probably answer a few disclaimer questions. … basically a bunch of really cool launch games. I wouldn’t say it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever seen.

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On the other hand, an unnamed Power Five coach reportedly said, “I don’t think I’d be excited if I got kicked out of a bowling match for my seniors, based on last year’s team. You’re going to have a hard time getting coaches excited about this.

Other ESPN schedule changes explored:

  • Some tweaks to the regular season to account for bowl season, including FBS teams no longer playing at FCS schools (these matchups could be played in the spring), as well as adding an extra week for each crew.
  • One way to host a 12-team playoff.
  • Transfer windows and a large January 1 to March 1 window for high school recruits to sign with schools, with some simplification of windows when recruiting is allowed.

Of the reconfigured schedule as a whole, an unnamed Power Five sporting director reportedly said: “I thought it was really innovative. That’s what we need right now, just some chalk and a board and let’s work on it. At only 30,000 feet, it seemed like you were trying to find a real middle ground on many issues.

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