Posted by: furmanbisher | December 18, 2011

Feeling Bowled Over?

So, how do you like your bowl game? Rare, medium, or over-cooked? I almost said “unnecessary,”  while trying to think if there were ever as many unnecessary bowl games as the crop we have coming up this wintry season. It started up right after noon in Albuquerque last Saturday and winds down right about midnight in Mobile 22 days later. Thirty-four games in between, and the rarest of these is the Fight Hunger Bowl, appropriately named because the coaches of both teams have been fired, and where is their next meal to come from?

UCLA fired Rick Neuhuisel, but graciously allowed him to stay on long enough to get butchered by Oregon in the Pac-10 championship game. And that came about because the real champion, Southern Cal, was serving out a sentence. Ron  Zook wasn’t nearly that lucky at Illinois. His team won its first six games, then lost the last six in a row, and was already out of the door. So between them, these “bowl” teams have lost 13 games, but press guides down the road will proudly refer to the two as “bowl” teams.

I covered my first bowl games in Jacksonville in 1947, when the Gator Bowl was growing some hair on its chest. Oklahoma played N.C. State—no contest—in a high school “stadium” of solid cement, with a few added bleachers. Not long since the turn of the century I began taking my bowl games by television, and even though we have two bowls coming out of the state this year, I shall continue my abstinence, much as I always enjoyed going to the Sun Bowl.

El Paso gives you a real taste of the cowboy life, with Texas on one side of the Rio Grande and Mexico on the other. I suppose the Rio Grande still separates them, but sightseeing in Juarez doesn’t appeal to me as it once did. What you don’t realize is that the Sun Bowl is the fourth oldest of the bowls. It sort of slipped into life after the Rose, the Orange and the Cotton while not a lot of people were paying attention. And, I’ll have to confess to you that some of the first Sun Bowls were played between tidy  little colleges, and in some instances, between high schools. But, it was still the Sun, and a bowl through the eyes of the El Pasoans.

Now, let’s see, I think there are 34 bowl games now, from the Gildan New Mexico Bowl to the All-State BCS Bowl, which is an Alabama-LSU rematch in New Orleans. There are bowl games with names that sound like filling stations and butcher shops. They’re even playing one in Yankee Stadium. Once, I covered one in the old Polo Grounds, between Utah State and Baylor. A few over 9,000 frozen fans showed up. It called itself the Gotham Bowl, but Gotham wasn’t very interested.

Oh, well, of the Unnecessary Bowls out there now, and there will probably be even more next year and the next, as long as such sponsors as Meineke Car Care, Autozone, Little Caesar’s, Belk and Beef O’Brady keep picking up the tab. I’ll continue to take mine in the living room…medium-rare if given the choice.

Posted by: furmanbisher | December 15, 2011

Santa’s Bag of Bits

These are a few things you may register on your mind in between Christmas shopping missions.

—–The prolonged salutations in the passing of Larry Munson, “Voice of the Georgia Bulldogs,” reminds me of an old headline writer for the New York Daily News on the death of John Garfield, the actor found dead in his girlfriend’s bed. After days of one story after another referring to the actor’s career and his affairs, that wearying old editor headlined another story: “John Garfield Still Dead.”

—–Don’t know if you realized this, but when Gary Stoken, the match-maker, got Georgia to play Boise State in the season opener in the Georgia Dome, he had to sweeten the pot: $1.7 million to Georgia, $1.4 million to Boise State, and University of Louisville $500,000. Why Louisville? Because UL had to give up the date it had with Georgia. Do you suppose the matchup really covered all those pay-outs?

—–Through all the charges leveled at Jerry Sandusky, the embattled former line coach at Penn State, there were six males sons living in his home, most of them adopted, I’ve read. There’s something strangely amiss in this story—a man with six sons allegedly fouling the lives of other young males in around the Penn State athletics department? Just a puzzling situation that runs through my addled mind.

——What puzzles me about Tiger Woods and his Chevron Challenge is that this “silly season” tournament is allowed to be included in the World Golf Rankings. And did you notice that the day after the latest event, the Chevron corporation announced it was withdrawing its sponsorship?

—–Don’t know if you saw this response from Stewart Cink, when someone questioned him about Tiger Woods’ state of affairs recently: “I don’t know him now,” he said. Wonder if that doesn’t speak for several of his Tour contemporaries?

—–Most of you are too young to remember the day when no contact was allowed between coaches on the sideline and the players on the field. But it was true in times of the leather helmets and strapped-on hip pads. Helmets today are equipped with receivers for sideline messages. What happens if the wireless fails for whatever reason? In Paul Johnson’s case, he delivers the play into the ear of a substitute, then whisks him onto the field.

—–Then down through the chimney came ol’ Saint Nick, with a heigh-heigh-heigh and a ho-ho-ho! Yes, I’m working towards ho-ho-ing through almost a century’s worth of Christmases….who would have ever thought?


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