As someone who watched more than half of them this season, I enjoyed them for the most part. Some of the lower profile bowls delivered some great games as well as an appreciable number of the bigger games. That noted 40 bowls appear as too much proliferation. Schools want the extra practices and exposure and what little money may come their way. Commercial sponsors want the profits from advertising, and hosting communities want the business revenue for hotels, restaurants, etc. It is filler content for ESPN (or for a few, another) during the holidays in which all they do is sports related.
There are pro and con arguments:http://www.si.com/college-football/2017 ... -pass-pork
"http://www.clintonherald.com/sports/are ... b0bd0.html
As to 5-7 teams receiving bids, that can happen when a conference is unable to meet their agreed upon slots in contracting with bowls. Thus, the bowls may look elsewhere among what is available. There is still eligibility criteria. In the case of Miss. State receiving a bid at being 5-7, they had a high academic progress rating at 971, 12 points higher than the national average, and 2nd best among 12 teams eligible among that criteria. The MSU Bulldogs, then @ 5-7, and finished 6-7, were one of three teams without six bowl-eligible wins to earn a berth based on their Academic Progress Rate rankings. This explains more of it from the standpoint coming from MSU.http://hailstate.com/news/2016/12/4/foo ... -bowl.aspx
The individual schools are not the blame for this. Few, nowadays, will turn down a bowl bid, even if they don't financially profit or even lose money with travel costs. It's a useful recruiting tool.
If the number of bowls are cut, hopefully slots will be retained for schools with excellent seasons from the G-5 conferences and independents.
There is a current moratorium on approving new bowls, and there are three or so cities awaiting acceptance. Maybe, for the lower profile bowls, there could be a rotation system by years. It seems unfair only certain cities may sponsor bowls, and there's no competition about this beyond the capacity to attract the names and records of teams.