Alabama Football: On 2021-22 bowls, SEC teams and the future

Fans hike the mountain behind the Sun Bowl stadium to watch New Mexico State take on Dixie State at the Sun Bowl
Fans hike the mountain behind the Sun Bowl stadium to watch New Mexico State take on Dixie State at the Sun Bowl /

For Alabama Football and other SEC schools, the 1947 season was momentous. It marked the first time five SEC schools participated in bowl games. Another time and another world for college football could describe the 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s.

The SEC was a 12-team league in 1947 as it had been for a number of seasons (except for the WWII seasons of 1943 and 1944). It would drop to 10 teams in the mid-1960s with the exits by Tulane and Georgia Tech. It took until 1991 for the league to get back to 12 teams with the additions of Arkansas and South Carolina.

The 1947 feat of five SEC bowl teams was not matched until the 1962 season. Getting six SEC teams bowl-eligible did not happen until 1968. The number of SEC bowl teams reached seven in the 1974 season and did not reach eight teams until 1998.

The record for SEC teams in bowl games moved to 10 schools in the 2009 season and was matched again in 2010 and 2013. The three most active bowl seasons for the SEC soon followed, hitting 12 teams in 2014 and 2018. The all-time record of 13 SEC teams bowling was set in the 2016 season.

Note: Bowl data from

The steady progression of bowl eligibility was added by the growing number of bowl games and the SEC league expansion to 14 teams in the 2012 season.

While the number of bowl games grew, the significance of bowls dwindled. The CFB Playoff era changed the world of post-season bowls forever. The inevitable Playoff expansion to 12 teams will also have a major impact on bowls.

Given many of the current schedule of 40 bowls (not including the Playoffs) are more broadcast than spectator events, an extensive bowl season will likely continue after Playoff expansion. Already it is possible for a 5-7 team to qualify for a bowl game.

How much do Alabama Football fans care?

Alabama Football fans have little concern about the future of the bowls. So far, the Alabama Crimson Tide has only ‘dropped down’ to a non-Playoff,  bowl game once. After the field becomes 12 teams, it will be a rare season when Alabama Football is not in the Playoffs.

Many other teams have different realities. A bowl game for many is still a reward. Some players opt-out, but most want to play the added game. Coaches love the extra practice time. Not all of the December games afford teams an enhanced profile, but all of them are better than being left out of bowl season.

What about the SEC and the 2021-22 bowl season?

National media predict 10 SEC teams will qualify. But it could be more if Mississippi State, Arkansas and  South Carolina have improved results, as many expect. The 13-team, SEC bowl record is likely safe, but it might not be.

Check out the Sporting News bowl projections here.

Next. These Crimson Tide 3-Stars were outstanding. dark

The outcome of the 1948 Sugar Bowl was not momentous for the Crimson Tide. The Texas Longhorns beat the Tide 27-7.