With Hawaii’s victory over Washington the NCAA draws the curtain on its 2007 regular season and leaves us all in a state of suspense that may never truly reach resolution. Last week’s disorder pales in comparison to this week’s chaos that can be best summed up with the joke: How many #2s does it take to make it to the national title game? For those wishing to see an implosion of the Bowl Collusion Syndicate, we couldn’t have asked for anything better. I want to hear Myles Brand and his comrades explain how they will determine this year’s national champion.
Today heralds the announcement of the anointed two that will do battle in N’Awlins on January 7th. Let the debate begin as to who should play in that game. Aren’t you glad you have the Clipboard and other sites to voice your opinion?
What’s crazy is the number of days between actual games for the two teams that will play for the national title; today until then numbers thirty-six.
The bowl season begins on December 20th with the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (man, they should add the reciting of that bowl to the list of DWI tests). Navy will play a representative from the Mountain West conference in that opening bowl. In all, thirty-two bowls will take place in nineteen days.
This dizzying number of ‘bowl’ games may seem crazy, but I enjoy the contests. Don’t know if this is rational thought or some holdover from the ‘70s when we had four television stations, and sports’ events occurred as frequently as a lunar eclipse (yeah, I know I’m exaggerating – it just seemed like it). I remember spending New Year’s Eve huddled in front of a little black and white (because my parents-crib for the hipsters- had Guy Lombardo on our only color set) watching two teams that I knew nothing about play in the Bluebonnet Bowl just because I loved the games. Now I enjoy an occasional December contest for the competition and a chance to learn about a team I might not know too much about. Also, I consider the fact that for many of these student-athletes they will play their last game in one of these bowls – an otherwise meaningless game on the national scene represents the culmination of a very long individual journey through inter-scholastic sports. A successful sports’ career is something to celebrate, and the bowls afford that opportunity.
It is with that spirit of celebration that bowl games originated. Bowl games started in 1902 when the Tournament of Roses decided to add a football game to its celebration of a new year. The University of Michigan hammered Stanford 49-0 in that inaugural bowl. The game was so lopsided that tournament organizers opted for chariot races the following year. College football returned to the Tournament of Roses in 1916, and in 1923 the Rose Bowl, on its current site, was opened to great fanfare. USC topped Penn St. 14-3. Only WWII could move ‘The Grand Daddy of Them All’. Oregon St. beat Duke 20-16 at Duke Stadium in Durham, North Carolina in the 1942 Rose Bowl.
Others followed: the Orange and Sugar Bowls in 1935, the Sun Bowl-which would take the name of John Hancock from 1986-96 before returning to its original name – began in 1936. 1937 saw Texas Christian top Marquette in the first ever Cotton Bowl. The following year the Blue-Gray Classic, pitting all-stars from the former Confederacy against those all-stars of the remaining states, took place for the first time. This Christmas day game continued until 2001 when a lack of funding signaled its demise.
In 1947 the Tangerine and Gator Bowls joined the fray. The Tangerine has become known as Capitol One. The Liberty Bowl followed in ’59, the Peach in ’68, and Fiesta in ’71.
Bowls have come and gone: the aforementioned Bluebonnet and Aloha to name a couple. From 1948-52 the Ice Bowl took place in Fairbanks, Alaska. Yes, they played those games on or around New Year’s Day – Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! There was even a Gotham Bowl that took place in 1961 and ‘62. It took two years to figure out that not many denizens of NYC would care to attend a New-Year’s- Day-outdoor game in Yankee Stadium.
Since 1936 the Associated Press (AP) has awarded a national champion. This collection of writers, former players, and other members of the media has been acknowledged as one, if not the most, prominent poll. In 1950, United Press International (UPI) first assembled the coaches’ poll. UPI gave way to the USA Today/ CNN poll in 1991.
Until 1968 the NCAA crowned its champion prior to the bowl season. Then in response to controversy created during the bowls the AP first moved to a post-bowl season poll. The UPI followed suit six years later.
Eleven different years the AP & UPI have awarded different champions: 1954, 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1991, 1997, and 2003.
Our present system was born in 1992 when The Bowl Coalition started. Interesting to note that collusion, conspiracy, and gang all qualify as synonyms for the word coalition. In 1995 the Bowl Alliance went into effect. The BCS first awarded a national title in 1998 when Tennessee defeated Florida St. 23-16.
So tonight as we cozy up to the set and watch the BCS selection show that is kinda like the March Madness selection show, we will wonder if this year’s scenario will engender change. I’m reminded of a local television show of my youth: ‘Bowling For Dollars.’ Contestants were brought into a television studio and given two rolls. If the bowler managed two strikes she/he won the cash. An abbreviated game elicited a financial reward. Funny…we sorta have the same thing in college pigskin – one game gets the trophy, and it’s all about the cash.
Rebounds & Put backs: sad to read of Evel Knievel’s death. I remember setting up ramps in the driveway and clearing empty milk gallons on my bike – still have a twinge in my elbow from one of those failed attempts.
Even hall-of-fame coaches make mistakes. Just ask Joe Gibbs who cost the ‘Skins 15 yds. as he called back-to-back timeouts to freeze Bills’ PK, Rian Lindell.