What if (most) college football bowls were at the beginning of the season?

Over the past several years, there has been an increase in college football players opting out of bowl games as they look to their futures.

Last week, ESPN published a lengthy piece in which a group of writers attempted to reconfigure the college football annual schedule, and a change in when bowl games — at least most of them — are played was one of the alterations.

ESPN’s proposal would see fall camp be held from July 21-mid-August and then have (most of) bowl season from the third Saturday in August through Labor Day.

Bowl matchups would be determined in April.

“Most importantly, we’d be creating a 10-day college football extravaganza that would rival the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. It’ll be wall-to-wall bowl action — with no competition from the NFL — to whet your appetite for the season ahead,” the group concluded.

They added, “And don’t worry, the most tradition-rich bowls — the current New Year’s Six — still get played at season’s end as part of our newly designed playoff.”

The group then got feedback from people in the sport — conference commissioners, school athletic directors, coaches, players and others — about what they thought of the reconfiguration.

The proposal got mixed reaction, with some in the sport saying it was an idea potentially worth considering and others saying they didn’t like it.

“Your first reaction is, ‘Well, that sounds crazy.’ But maybe there is something to it,” Appalachian State athletic director Doug Gillin is quoted as saying.

“I do think it probably would answer a couple things on opt-outs. … In essence, a bunch of really cool kickoff games. I wouldn’t say it’s the dumbest idea I ever saw.”

On the other hand, an unnamed Power Five coach is quoted as saying, “I don’t think I’d be fired up that I get left out of a bowl game for my seniors, based on last year’s team. You’re going to have a hard time getting coaches excited about that.”

Other changes to the calendar ESPN explored:

  • Some tweaks to the regular season to accommodate bowl season, including FBS teams no longer playing FCS schools (those matchups could be played in the spring), plus adding an extra bye week for every team.
  • A way to accommodate a 12-team playoff.
  • Transfer windows and one large window from Jan. 1-March 1 for high school recruits to sign with schools, with some simplification of windows when recruiting is allowed.

Of the reconfigured calendar as a whole, one unnamed Power Five athletic director is quoted as saying, “I thought it was really innovative. That’s what we need right now, just some chalk and a board and go to work on it. Just 30,000 feet, it seemed like you were trying to find a real compromise on a lot of issues.”

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