The legendary Keith Jackson calls the end of the 1986 Oklahoma-Nebraska game, when OU receiver Keith Jackson makes a one-handed catch.
As of this post, there have been 15 college bowl games played (I’m watching the 16th). If you added up all the minutes that I have watched of these 15 games, you might have a quarter. And the only reason I’m watching the Pinstripe Bowl (excuse me, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl) is because it’s being played in Yankee Stadium.
A lot of folks hate the orgy of sponsorship that has overtaken the bowl games in recent years (the Poulan Weedeater Bowl?), and I’m no exception. When it comes to bowls, I’m a traditionalist. The Peach Bowl is the Peach Bowl, not the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Even the Orange and Sugar bowls are now sponsored and, gasp, the Rose Bowl.
But I can live with the sponsorship, for the most part. What really kills my excitement for bowl games is the multitude of games that are, truly, meaningless. When 6-6 teams qualify for a bowl that’s played at 1 p.m on Dec. 13, trust me, it’s meaningless. Just look at the menu of teams to date:
UTEP, BYU, Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Troy, Ohio, Southern Miss, Louisville, Utah, Boise St., San Diego St., Navy, Hawaii, Tulsa, Toledo, Florida International, Georgia Tech, Air Force, NC State, West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Maryland, East Carolina, Illinois, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Army, SMU, Kansas State and Syracuse.
I had to read halfway through that list to even get remotely interested. Nothing against any of the schools, but I ain’t burning a sick day to stay home to watch Fresno State.
Of course, with so many games, you’re going to get less than Tier I commentating. And the booth crews work hard to make their game sound like the last minute of the national championship. In last night’s Texas Bowl (Baylor vs. Illinois), the Illinois (I think) QB broke from the pocket, clearly crossed the line of scrimmage (thanks, magic computer-generated black line) and threw the ball. Of course, a flag was thrown. The comment from the booth, “Boy, it’s awfully close!” He made it sound like Ray Lewis had just laid a head-t0-head hit on a kicker. From each of the 11 angles shown in the 33 replays, the QB clearly crossed the line of scrimmage. A minor penalty that had no affect on the outcome of the game.
Similarly, today’s Pinstripe Bowl is interesting only because of its location, unless you’re a Syracuse or Kansas State fan. It’s an utterly ordinary game between two utterly ordinary teams. But we’re “off to a very entertaining start,” according to the crew, which makes comments about KSU’s offensive power, like, “Nobody has been better inside the 20?” Really? The 62nd-ranked offense in the nation? I bet Oregon would dispute that.
There is one positive thing that could come from the profusion of bowls, though. There are over 60 D-1 teams playing each other in the postseason. Why not structure the bowls into a playoff bracket? The money (and in a few cases, prestige) of playing in a bowl stays, but, in a playoff system, every bowl would be meaningful.
Naaah, never happen.
Ahh, there’s nothing like playoff season to bring out the best in sports: the drama, the excitement, the hope, the hatred. Watching Monday night’s soon-to-be-destined-one-of-the-best-games-of-the-year matchup between the Saints and Falcons reminded me how much I hate the Falcons, which led to remembrances of hate for a variety of teams in a variety of sports. You can’t have a rivalry without it. It’s what makes you spend way too much money on nflshop.com.
So, in keeping with the NFL playoff season, I’ve organized my own playoff season in the ULH (Universal League of Hate). The “universal” is because hate transcends sports and level.
San Francisco (Giants): Also pretty simple. I’m a Dodgers fan. Thus, I am required to hate the Giants. It doesn’t hurt that Bo bby Thomson killed the Dodgers’ hope with “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” Barry Bonds even exists, much less wore a Giants uniform, that the Giants have all too often eliminated the Dodgers on the last day of the season and are the current World Series champions.
Atlanta (Falcons): The Falcons, historically the fritterer-awayer of talent (remember Pat Sullivan?), are the Saints natural division rival, and the enmity (yeah, I know fancy words) has increased every year since the teams first played. Falcons knock the Saints out of the playoffs, Saints beat the Falcons on the road. Etc. It’s always the damn Falcons.
Dallas: Perennial powerhouse of hate. Yeah, yeah, Super Bowls. Staubach. Dorsett. Smith. Blah, blah, blah. Everything’s bigger in Texas. So’s the hate, which started when the Cowboys proclaimed themselves to be “America’s Team.”
Florida Gators: You might think that because I’m an SEC fan, and Ole Miss grad, that I hate Florida because I have to. Nope, I hate them because I WANT to. Reasons: Spurrier, Tebow, the 1990s, and last but not least the ever-prissy Chris Collingsworth. Chomp, chomp my ass, Florida.
Ohio State: For the simple reason that no college football team in America (besides Notre Dame, of course) can consistently be ranked in the Top 10 EVERY YEAR based on … well, nothing, considering that every year, OSU starts out in the Top 10, then about Week 4 loses A Game They Shouldn’t Have Lost and plummets to where they belong – hanging on to a Top 25 spot like everybody else. And by the way, what exactly does a guy have to do to get one of those zillion buckeye thingies on his helmet? Lace his shoes?
STILL IN THE HUNT
Philadelphia (Eagles): Sort of hate by association on this one – I hate the fans. Of course, it’s not hard to hate people who boo Santa Claus. As my daughter would say, “What is WRONG with you people?”
Boise State: Look, a team in the WAC (Weak Ass Conference) who plays on BLUE FIELD and tries to act like they belong in a discussion about the national championship gets automatic hate points. Automatic. They’d be a Wild Card easily if they played in a real conference (like, say, the SEC).
Atlanta (Braves): Again, the fans. I really got nothing against the team that Hank Aaron played for. But, jeez, what a bunch of spoiled brat fans. They act bored at a PLAYOFF GAME (the ones that show up, I mean), that stupid “Tomahawk Chop” has got to be one of the dumbest fan-participation inventions ever, and they even stole the chant from Florida State. Oh, and the team’s uniforms look like the pajamas of a 7-year-old boy.
Monday Night Football crew: Ok, it’s just Ron Jaworski. Who died and made him Terry Bradshaw (without the Super Bowl rings)? Like most football fans, I love me some MNF. I can even tolerate Chucky being in the booth. At least he was a head coach, and he has a Super Bowl ring (unlike anybody else in the booth, RON!) Tirico plays the straight man well. But they all have turned the weekly lovefest that is usually a Monday night game into four hours of the intolerable Jaworski and enough ass-kissing to rate a Chapstick sponsorship.
Finally, after reading/hearing Tucker Carlson’s comment re: Michael Vick, there’s a new candidate in the field. In case you haven’t seen/heard, it’s here, via the Orlando Sentinel: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/sfl-carlson-michael-vick-executed-122810,0,315229.story
Carlson is so disingenuous on this – “I’m a Christian …” Riiiiight. That’s kinda like saying, “Many of my friends are black.” And, Tucker, one does not “murder” dogs. Kill, yes. Put down, yes. Hell, cut in half with a shotgun blast, yes. But murder is the crime of killing a PERSON especially with malice aforethought. Now, I know Scruffy and Mr. Barky Von Schnauzer are cute and cuddly and have personalities, but they aren’t people. Period. To use the word “murder” in the context of Vick’s crime is disingenuous, low, and smacks of pandering. And then to elevate this issue to capital murder – which is what he did with the “execution” utterance, because only capital murder or murder under certain special circumstances qualifies for the death penalty, or “execution” – is a vain attempt to be intentionally controversial.
So, Mr. Christian, what WOULD Jesus do? I’m thinking something along the lines of “Go forth and sin no more” rather than “He shoulda been executed.” But I could be wrong.
Down goes Frazier!
Like him or hate him, Howard Cosell could call the hell out of a fight. No technical mumbo jumbo, no overanalysis of the obvious, just the emotion of the moment.
Ok, this has nothing to do with commentary, but I’m a bit of a uniphile when it comes to football. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with uniforms, new, old, traditional, throwback, etc. This link (decidedly a favorite because it features Ole Miss) boasts the best five college unis. I don’t agree with Texas being among the best, but I’ve always liked the Michigan look.
For the worst (and you’ll get little argument from me on this one, especially Oregon), see the link on the page.