Five Questions With FBA Chair Tina Kunzer-Murphy
Football Bowl Association Chair Tina Kunzer-Murphy has just wrapped up one of the busiest times of the year for her as the 35 games making up the bowl season came to an end Monday night. Ratings were down 14.3% for the BCS National Championship game between Alabama and LSU. The TV audience for the entire bowl season was also down 15% with 5.2 million average viewers compared to 6.1 million for last year. Kunzer-Murphy, who is also the Exec Dir of the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, spoke via e-mail about her thoughts on the growth and future of the BCS.
Q: After this season, what concerns do you have about the bowl system?
Kunzer-Murphy: I’m concerned about the rhetoric in the media about changing the system that could evolve into something that adversely affects the bowl system long term. What most people fail to think about is how a change to the system will affect the student athlete. Each year, 7,000 student athletes take part in many diverse and unique opportunities at bowl games. If the system is dramatically changed, the student athletes wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to partake in these experiences.
Q: What do you think is the future for the BCS?
Kunzer-Murphy: The BCS is controlled by the conferences. The future will be determined by the commissioners. I can say this. The BCS was created to pit No. 1 vs. No. 2. Overall, I think the current system has done a remarkable job of matching the two best teams in college football every year. It’s also given some programs the opportunity to play on major stages that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do so before the BCS.
Q: In terms of the number of games, sponsorships and regaining confidence of the college sports fans, where do you see growth for the overall bowl system?
Kunzer-Murphy: The NCAA has determined that 35 bowl games are the right number for eligible teams to have an opportunity to participate in the bowl experience. Again, we had over 1.8 million fans attend bowl games this year. Despite the economic issues our country faces, college football has never been more popular, and the bowls are a big part of college football.
Q: Ratings and attendance were down this year, what are your thoughts on why and how can they be increased for next year?
Kunzer-Murphy: First of all, attendance was down marginally. Compare bowls to major professional sports, and you will see that attendance in other sports dropped by a greater percentage compared to bowls. Last year, our TV ratings were up. There are lots of factors that affect TV ratings. Obviously, we all strive to put together the most compelling match-ups based on the inventory of teams we have to pick from. Some years are better than others.
Q: People are saying there may be too many bowl games, including Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson. Is this something you often hear?
Kunzer-Murphy: The number of bowl games is determined by the basic supply and demand associated with bowl-eligible teams. The requirements for bowl eligibility are set by the conferences and NCAA, and as such, we do not make the rules when it comes to what record a team must be to become bowl eligible. If the conferences decide they want to change the eligibility requirements, it will affect the number of bowls. It’s pretty simple.