Urban Meyer Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer walks down the sideline during the second half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

In the fallout of the Orange Bowl, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit suggested that he’d favor eliminating non-playoff bowl games “If players don’t want to play.”

But his comments boiled down to a bit more than that, even if his players did not want to play. That was the takeaway quote. ESPN’s top college football personality expressed concern that traditional bowls will become irrelevant, drawing comparisons to the lesser-followed NIT in college basketball.

Here are some of those comments:

“I think the 12-team playoff is going to create a lot of buzz. How many games will that be, seven total? You have the quarterfinals, the semis and the national championship.

“It’s going to remind me next year of it being worse. I think we’re headed to — I’m a college basketball fan; we all get our bracket out, March Madness. Tell me about the NIT; how’s that going for you? You know, who is even in the NIT? That’s where the bowls are going next year. I think you eliminate the bowls. Nobody wants to play in them, don’t play bowls. Just have the 12 teams — we’ll get excited about those — and if you want to add maybe five or six more bowls outside of that, then do five or six.

“But, we’re getting to a point where it’s ridiculous. We’re putting 6-6 teams in bowl games nobody cares about. If players don’t want to play in them, hell with it, don’t have bowl games anymore.”

Whether you agree with Herbstreit or not, college football constantly evolves, and the bowl system will likely grow with it. Still, others didn’t see that way. Urban Meyer started his podcast by disagreeing with Herbstreit’s suggestion of getting rid of bowl games. Although Meyer did not mention him by name, it was clear that Meyer was refuting Herbstreit’s stance.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Meyer said about those comments on Urban’s Take with Tim May. “Just go watch…I talked “I talked to Greg Schiano (Friday, Jan. 5). Rutgers beat Miami. And I get for people that maybe never played or the people that they look at the dollar sign, and that’s what makes all decisions where I never believed in that…And I can hear people say, ‘Oh, come on, it’s just a game.” No, that’s not true. The kids at Rutgers will forever have that in their heart that they went and beat Miami in a bowl game. So, I would continue the bowl games. I would separate the playoff, which they’re doing. I kind of like the direction of that. But to say, ‘Let’s get rid of the bowl games,’ I can’t agree with that.

Meyer disagrees with eliminating bowl games, arguing they hold sentimental value for players and should coexist with the new playoff system. He mentioned how he had to face the Bowling Green team, where he orchestrated one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NCAA history by transforming a 2-9 team into an 8-3 team. However, he later found out that the team wouldn’t be going to a bowl game, which was disheartening to a program whose last bowl appearance before that was the 1992 Las Vegas Bowl.

There are a couple of things to address here: Herbstreit raises valid concerns about the future of bowl games, but his solution – outright elimination – is a drastic proposal. Meyer offers a more balanced perspective, emphasizing the unique value of bowls while acknowledging the need for adjustments alongside the expanded playoff.

While Herbstreit and Meyer present contrasting visions for the future of bowl games, ultimately, it begs the question: can these traditional fixtures find their place in the evolving landscape of college football? Only time will tell how the new 12-team playoff and changing player landscape will shape the bowl scene. Don’t expect Herbstreit and Meyer to be on the same side of the argument.

[Athlon Sports]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.