Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel & SI's Pat Forde give you the latest on where college football bowl games fit in the latest playoff expansion model. Hear the full conversation on the Yahoo Sports College Podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
[BAT HITS BALL, CROWD CHEERS]
PETE THAMEL: One thought on the bowls here, Dan, because college athletics won't quit the bowls. So this is just like a general, 30,000-foots thought. So they have bowl weeks and all this stuff. And they get their grab bags and their swag and all that stuff. For the bowls to survive, do they have to become name, image, and likeness engines? Hey, it's Tua's playing in the Orange Bowl, $10,000 to go to an autograph signing for kids and fill in the blank, whatever it is like.
If the bowls have to evolve and adapt and not just be filled with graft and back slapping, isn't that the most logical way for them to evolve and adapt is harness those local resources to pay the kids? And I would think, if you're going to keep the bowls in this system, the bowls have to offer player stipends. Like basically, well, we're going to put you on a billboard, we're going to do this, we're going to put you on the ticket, whatever it is.
The bowls have to give back. The bowls have just been taking for years. These bowl directors, for one night, make $950,000 a year or whatever. Let's siphon some of that money to the players.
PAT FORDE: That's a great idea.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah. I think that's going to be big. I mean, see, the thing, the bowls are going to continue because they're welfare. They exist because they're underwritten by the conferences. They take their money from the playoff. And then they subsidize the smaller bowls.
And everyone votes for it because every AD, every coach, everyone gets a bonus. I mean, it's an incredible thing. You literally create a system where I would lose money doing something for my company. And then that company gives me a bonus for doing it. That's the bowls.
PETE THAMEL: From people who brought you tens of millions dollars from getting fired every year and continue to not work. It actually makes a lot of sense.
DAN WETZEL: The entire bowl system is a welfare system. It's not real. They always go, the bowl business won't survive. The bowl business doesn't survive now. There's nobody in the stands. They have enough people who will watch bowl games. Most of them are owned by ESPN because they will watch, more people will watch, including us, the worst bowl game than the best of almost anything else, like regular season NBA, college basketball for sure, hockey, whatever.
And as gambling goes to whatever number of states, even more people are going to watch this thing. So I just think bowls are going to transfer to being like this is almost like the spring game. Yeah, a lot of seniors are going to bail, some aren't. You're not going to have your top talent. But you're going to get to see that kid who is going to be your starter get a chance.
Gamblers will gamble and watch. There's still enough money. And as long as the Big Ten and the SEC see value in having a six and six team get an opportunity to be in a bowl that they are going to underwrite that, the bowls will continue on.
Now, the bowls as the semifinal sites just makes no sense at all. But they're there. They're enmeshed. They're ingrained. They're stopped. But I do think the bowls should do more.
It's funny because it's like, for a long time, they gave them those little trinkets and said, look what we're doing. And now everyone's finally smartened up and go, it's insulting. The bowl director, the guy in the fancy jacket who's making a million bucks and had-- the John Junkers. At one point John Junker's expense account included four country club memberships.
PETE THAMEL: But you got some pretty sweet earbuds, man, you know.
DAN WETZEL: Right. John Junker's car allowance was $2,250 a month.
PETE THAMEL: Nice gig.
DAN WETZEL: What car are you leasing for $2,250 a month, especially 10 years ago? So he's getting multiple cars. He had the four country clubs. He had an average of like $1,300 a day on his Amex. These guys are making all this money. And then, yeah, here's your earbuds, son. Thanks for coming. Look how generous we are.
You guys robbed them. You robbed these kids blind for years. So time to pony up.
PAT FORDE: Some of the bowls, for sure, have upgraded the swag because, first of all, it's competition with the other bowls. But secondly, I think there was a little bit of shaming there. It was like, yeah, we made our kids stay on campus an extra three weeks and work out so they can go to a bowl game so that they could get a Fossil belt buckle or something.
DAN WETZEL: But fairness, the NCAA, of course, put a limit, a cap on it. So actually, maybe these guys would have done more. But of course, the NCAA, well, we don't want them getting too many earbuds or whatever they were getting, like Walkmans. Or I mean--
PETE THAMEL: I don't know if they were getting Walkmans, Dan.
DAN WETZEL: Back in the day.
PETE THAMEL: Doug Flutie might have got a Walkman.