FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The sentiment continues to grow among college football coaches: There’s no such thing as a “meaningless bowl game.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher made a passionate statement regarding the thought of some bowl games being irrelevant, while Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s response to the idea of “meaningless bowl games” was a little more subdued.
However, both see an intrinsic value in a postseason bowl game, though in different contexts.
No. 11 Florida State (9-3) faces No. 6 Michigan (10-2) in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Friday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Harbaugh and Fisher met with the media Thursday morning in the final team availability before the New Year’s Six bowl game.
Earlier this month, Alabama coach Nick Saban told AL.com that the College Football Playoff has become a singular focus, and that it has led to players skipping non-CFP bowls to prepare for future professional careers.
“When we all started this, however many years ago it was, I said that you’re going to diminish the importance of other bowl games in college football, which has happened,” Saban told AL.com. “All anybody talks about is the playoff. We have a whole bunch of other bowl games that people don’t think are all that important. So if you don’t think it’s important, all of a sudden the players don’t think it’s important. So you can’t really blame the players.”
Even though his team was eliminated from CFP contention with its 30-27, double-overtime loss Nov. 26 at Ohio State, Harbaugh didn’t have any players skip the Orange Bowl in preparation for the NFL Draft. Harbaugh has crafted a new target for Michigan.
“Winning the Orange Bowl championship is our goal now,” Harbaugh said Thursday morning. “That’s a lot, in our minds. We want to win the most awards. We want to get the best grades. We want to excel at sports, and we have that opportunity to win a trophy.”
“You want to give it your all. You want to have dignity and pride, and you’ll have that in doing your very best. But you also want to win. That’s a lot, isn’t it? Don’t you think? I think it is.”
Fisher, however, was a little more pointed in his criticism of the perception of non-CFP bowl games.
“If you’re keeping score, it’s not meaningless,” Fisher said. “You play your tails off. It’s competition. That’s your job. That’s what you’re supposed to do. I don’t get the meaningless part, either. There’s no such thing as meaningless bowl games. I think that’s a product of our playoff, and I said that was going to happen, and I don’t mean this to y’all. I think that’s what the media has created a little bit. You guys act like it’s playoff or nothing.
“You win 10, 11 games, beat your rivals, go play an Orange Bowl or a Sugar Bowl or a Cotton Bowl or whatever bowl, the bowl in Orlando, the Russell Athletic Bowl and all. Those games all matter. What is wrong with that?”