The View From Here: Bowling
By Ken DeLaat
The rich 9 year tradition that marks the St Petersburg Bowl was upheld when Mississippi State eked out a win over Miami of Ohio to finish the year with a winning…..what’s that?
6-7 you say? And Miami ended up the same with the loss?
Well, truth be told out of the 40 bowl games involving 80 teams there have been more than a few who came in or left with losing records. In the soaked-with-tradition Quick Lane Bowl (3rd year) Boston College improved to 7-6 while Maryland fell to 6-7 in front of...
...a rousing crowd of 19,000. North Carolina State went to 7-6 with a win over Vanderbilt who also ended 6-7 at the Camping World Independence Bowl.
In fact ten bowl games involving 20 schools (or rather football teams attached somewhat loosely to schools) were played before a single team in the top 25 played and after #25 Navy was sunk by Louisiana Tech (that’s Tech, not State) in the Armed Forces Bowl there would be 6 more bowls before another ranked team made an appearance.
That was the Military Bowl where the #24 Temple Owls had their wings clipped by Wake Forest who finally found a bowl to take the Demon Deacons after they forged a mighty 6-6 record, their first non-losing season in 8 years.
When North Texas lost to Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Really?) they finished 5-8. Yes, they lost 3 more games than they won and yet, played in a bowl game.
I get it. It’s about recruitment and extra practice because who can turn down a recruiter from a team that just triumphed in the Belk Bowl and that extra practice for the famed Foster Farms Bowl can give you an edge in the conference for next year I suppose.
Being old and more than a bit curmudgeonly I recall when Big Ten teams were only allowed one bowl game, the Rose Bowl. Michigan was screwed out of even going to any Bowl game in 1973 when they finished 10-0-1 tying Ohio State 10-10 then having the Big Ten AD's vote for the Buckeyes to go to Pasadena because U-M QB Dennis Franklin was injured and they figured OSU had a better chance of winning. Sparty’s J. Burt Smith and Wisconsin’s AD and former Wolverine Elroy, Crazy Legs, Hirsch, voted against them.
UCLA, 9-2 no bowl. LSU, 9-3 no bowl. Arizona 8-3 no bowl. Minnesota finished 3rd in the Big Ten (when there were actually ten not fourteen teams) at 7-4 and no bowl.
It needed to change to give deserving teams a shot at the postseason but 80? Seriously? Are there 8 teams you’d set aside time to watch play, much less 80?
This year the Big 10 conference sent 10. Yes, the 10th best team in the Big Ten went to a bowl. Heck, even 6 teams went from the MAC conference including my beloved Chips who finished second from the cellar.
I haven’t watched any. I’ll take in the Orange Bowl because Michigan’s in it and the Orange always has a good halftime show and Western is playing in the Cotton Bowl so that’s a must but I have no interest in some arbitrary playoff system where the winner of the Big Ten gets shut out while the team that did not even play in the conference championship is in. If that’s what it is, fine, but don’t place any meaning in conference titles then.
Collegiate football in Division One is not populated by student athletes but primarily by semi-professional athletes who aspire to play pro football and also some who attend real classes. It is rife with corruption, cheating, misrepresentation and obscene salaries to coaches and their staff and equally obscene amounts of money to support the programs while college tuition skyrockets.
To call it a college sport is a joke.
But if you like watching and none of the above concerns you there’s a feast of football remaining. If you missed the classic Cure Bowl, the pageantry of the Potato Bowl or the revelry of the Russell Athletic Bowl?
Have no fear.
Saturday at 11am you can grab your coffee cup and whet your appetite for the games ahead by taking in the Taxslayer Bowl pitting Georgia Tech the 5th place squad (out of 7) in the ACC’s Coastal Conference against Kentucky who will be defending the legacy of their 4th place finish in the SEC East division.
“Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead.”- Erma Bombeck