Bowl games here, bowl games there, bowl games everywhere! You can't escape them, not by running and not by hiding. It seems like every year we have a couple of new bowl games being played, named after some arbitrary company trying to make a name for itself, played by two underachieving teams from colleges no one has ever heard of. This has led to the systematic decline of my interest in the bowl series entirely. Don't get me wrong, you can't find another person in America who can match my enthusiasm for football, but when a team can be under .500 and still get itself elected to a bowl game, e.g. Vanderbilt, Pitt, UCLA, etc., it makes it much more meaningless.
The Bowl Series began with the completion of the new Rose Bowl Stadium which was mainly built to host the Annual Tournament East-West Football game, which was soon renamed as The Rose Bowl game. The "Bowl" came from the shape of the stadium, which is shaped like a bowl, and somehow become synonymous with any big football event, like the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, and any other post season college football game. In the 30's, the Rose Bowl was the only major, sought-after bowl game in the nation, but by the 40's four more bowl games were added on: the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the Sun Bowl. The bowl series signified the top teams in the nation battling it out to see who the number one dog was. It was all about top achieving teams, and being in a bowl game really meant something. But steadily throughout the decades, the number of bowl games has risen, and the meaningfulness of being elected to a bowl game has slowly dropped. Since then the number of bowls has steadily grown. At the end of the 80's, there were 15 bowl games, and currently there are 35 bowl games.
Looking at the other side of fence, the amount of benefits for the teams and cities participating in the bowl games is immeasurable. The bowl game brings tourism to small market towns, which lets local business, restaurants, and residents display what they have to offer to the world. The schools also get publicity that they wouldn't normally get in the regular course of the season. The added publicity helps with recruiting new talent out of high school, not only sports wise, but academically as well, which will help the school fund new projects and research. That's one of the main reasons why the playoff scenario in the college game is such a controversial topic. Playoffs in the college game would effectively take away the chances of a small school getting deep enough to get on a national stage, basically taking away any chances of further bettering their team and their school.