Long about late October, I began to have misgivings about college football, v.2010. “Something is amiss”, I thought. “This just does not feel right”, my gut was telling me. Sure, my beloved Crimson Tide had already faltered in their quest at perfection, part 2. There were weaknesses in the team and I feared more losses. But that still was not at the root of my discomfort. I sensed fundamental problems – a loss of balance in the force.
Last night the bowl announcements were finalized and this morning I decided to have a look and see what was in store to feed my college football appetite. Much like a feast prior to a long period of fasting, bowl season helps me make it through until August. It did not take long for my suspicions to be confirmed. Things have gone terribly wrong this year. I fully expect to see dogs and cats playing together when I am on my way home this evening. Someone please reassure me that Santa will still come this year!
All three service academies are playing in bowls. This is 2010, not 1910! Surely, the abundance of bowls is partially to blame for this phenomena but, Really!? The Middies and Falcons certainly deserve something for their troubles this year with 8-3 (going into the matchup with Army) and 8-4 records, respectively. The signature win for the Naval Academy is against a 7-6 Notre Dame (you will see a theme develop here). For your troubles you get to travel all the way across the country and play the locals. Air Force’s quality win is actually a 3 point loss to Oklahoma. Congratulations flyboys your reward is playing a 6-6 Georgia Tech. First team to complete a pass gets bonus points. Army is a middling 6-5 going into the Navy game with the big win of the year against, wait for it… Rutgers.
There are two games to start us off for the season on December 18th; DECEMBER 18TH!!!!; Now, admittedly, this has much to do with having entirely too many bowl games but, look at these choice matchups. Two 6-6 powerhouses get us started out in New Mexico as our old friend Mike Price takes his UTEP Miners across the border to face the indescribably bad BYU Cougars. After that appetizer, settle in for the main course served up on the blue turf. Fresno State will return to the scene of an earlier season beating to face a Northern Illinois squad who will be without the coach who guided them to a stellar 10 wins (against the likes of Temple, Buffalo and a Minnesota team so horrible the Big 10 may decide to go back to 11 teams after adding Nebraska).
For the "Thank God I am Not a Boise" fan in all of us. Since we all know the rough value of a spread quarterback in the SEC, let us now calculate the value of a field goal kicker. The MAACO bowl out in Vegas will pay out $1 million. Compare that with a BCS payout of $17 million. You can do the math either way. The kicker cost Boise $16 million or they should have bought one for the cost of a quarterback and made $15.8 million more (just pay Daddy and tell him to act like said kicker doesn’t know). And for their troubles they will get the Utes who were exposed as a fraud by TCU.
I don’t know about you but my Christmas Eve will not be complete until I sit down to partake in some Tulsa v Hawaii action! The Warriors suit up for their annual stay at home festival (after being banished from the mainland for post-season eternity on account of embarrassing themselves in New Orleans) against a team apparently rewarded for being the second tallest midget in C-USA and (honk if you are a member of the club) beating Notre Dame.
Since the Big 10 is unable to fill their number 8 spot (wow, think OSU, Wiscy and MSU might be over-rated?) we get to see the #1 team from the MAC (Toledo at 8-4) match up against Miami’s little brother (FIU) who is sporting a 6-6 record. Joy to the World! Get me some pizza and let’s spend the next three hours debating how many people are actually in the stands (over-under for this one is 30,000).
Actually, some of these games seem appropriate. Hey ‘Cuse and KSU; while everyone else is whooping it up in FL or some other tropical locale bring your 7-5 marks up and enjoy the warmth that is and outdoor venue in the Bronx on December 30th. East Carolina, we couldn’t find anyone else to take this crappy gig so here you go...a nice trip to our nation’s capital to play in a decrepit stadium abandoned by all but MLS against the team from just up the road (UMd). Out in El Paso, we’ll all drink enough tequila to pretend that this is actually a game someone might want to see as Notre Dame takes on Miami. Maybe it will be enough to convince us it is 1988 and then we might actually care. Georgia, as punishment for embarrassing yourselves all year you are banished to an outdoor game in Memphis against a C-USA team (UCF) coached by your former nemesis, George O’Leary. Since Nebraska cannot seem to close the deal and because they are one of the few programs to suffer the indignity of losing to Texas this year they have been shipped off to the west coast to help Sarkisian’s 6-6 Huskies get more recruits from SoCal.
But I sense some redemption. Tennessee v UNC and Florida v Penn St sound attractive – four or five years ago. Oh well, I will keep looking for something.
Biggest oddity to me: there are two bowl games in the State of Alabama. It is not so much that they are in Alabama but where they are played and the matchups offered. Let’s see here, GoDaddy brings their advertising to a glorified high school stadium to feature something called a Blue Raider against Miami (the other one – who may in fact be better). And BBVA Compass attempts to disguise the fact that they are a Spanish financial institution by sponsoring whatever the SEC can scrape from the bottom of the barrel (in this case, Kentucky) against the Fighting Wannstedt’s aka the NUMBER 5 TEAM FROM THE BIG (L)EAST. Now I have a soft spot for the “Old Gray Lady". But come on….she is less like a gracefully aging and still attractive cougar than she is a gravelly-voiced 70 year old who is still smoking two packs a day with one hand and pulling on the oxygen mask with the other.
Biggest crime of the year; bigger than Cam - seriously. UConn is playing in a BCS game. If this does not shame the BCS into changing the formula then nothing will. Just look at the schedule that got them to 8-4. The only teams they played even worthy of mention were Michigan (a win) and West Virginia (a loss). The rest is a who’s-who of college football irrelevance.
And to cap all of it off I have to endure watching the ticks play for the MNC. If it were any SEC team but the ticks or UTenn I would be pleased to see the SEC bring home the fifth straight. My prediction is a beat-down of the Ducks by the ticks but we shall see - if I can bring myself to watch. Hey, I know! This could be my diet plan. Vomit watching the ticks celebrate.
One of the few redeeming virtues of the bowl season - I like the Tide matchup. MSU is 11-1 and shares their conference championship. If my beloved Tide shows up and takes care of business, I can at least have that as my consolation for this weirdness. That would set the table for next year when college football will hopefully return to some sense of normalcy (AU at 7-5, Bama competing for SEC-CG and MNC, Big East completely ignored, Pac-10 put back in their cage, etc...)