The rhetoric surrounding a the importance of a second- or third-tier bowl game usually involves the following:
– Recruiting, in terms of what it allows with on-campus visits during bowl-game prep, as well as ability to sell the program as on solid footing.
– Perception, both within and outside the program.
– Carryover to next season, from positive vibe and extra practices.
– And, in this case, the chance at a winning record, which can be tied to the aforementioned elements.
What’s unclear is the true impact of playing in a bowl game such as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, in which Michigan State will take part on Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz., against TCU.
How much does it really matter, long-term, that MSU is in this game? And, how significant is winning and losing?
This is not to demean this bowl game or MSU’s opportunity. Bowl games are usually good experiences, for fans, players and others close to the program. Football season is so short and precious to our sports culture, one more chance to see your team play has value regardless of the circumstance.
My question, though, solely involves the usual talking points (which don’t include money, because bowl games beyond the BCS games are rarely profitable for the schools participating).
I think it does matter for recruiting (though an open December allows for more time on the road for coaches). And if it matters for recruiting, then it really matters.
And, in the short-term, whether a team is in a bowl game or not impacts perception, probably more so than the result of the game.
But we’re a society of short memories. For example, consecutive 11-win seasons didn’t spare coach Mark Dantonio or offensive coordinator Dan Roushar much grief from fans this year. That’s OK. This is big business and comes with high emotional stakes for those that follow it.
But, along those lines, a 10-win season next year and whatever happens in Tempe later this month will probably be forgotten. Right?
Similarly, I don’t think there’s much carryover within the program, other than possibly being in a better mood heading into the beginning of offseason workouts.
As I mentioned in Monday’s column, Dantonio pointed out the difference in vibe the last two seasons, based on bowl results. But it was the walloping at the hands of Alabama that then became an 11-win season, while the emotional win over Georgia became, well, this season.
What do you think? How much does playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl matter for MSU’s program? And how important is it that the Spartans win?