Albany Herald Guest Columnist Furman Bisher
So, how do you like your bowl game? Rare, medium, or over-cooked? I almost said “unnecessary,” and if there’s never been as many bowl games as unnecessary as the crop we have coming up this wintry season. It starts up right after noon today in Albuquerque 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 Neuheisel, 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 an NCAA sentence.
Ron Zook wasn’t nearly that lucky at Illinois. His team won its first six games, reached the Top 25, then lost the last six in a row, and was already out of the door. So between them, these “bowl” teams have lost 13, but as it will read in their press guides down the road, both will proudly refer to themselves 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, 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 like 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 tiny 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 this year, from the Gildan New Mexico Bowl to the All-State BCS Sugar 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 more than 9,000 frozen fans showed up. It called itself the Gotham Bowl, but Gotham wasn't very interested.
Oh, well, there are 34 of the "Unnecessary Bowls" now, and there will probably be so next year and the next, as long as such sponsors as Meineke Car Care, Autozone, Little Caesars, Belk and Beef O'Brady's keep picking up the tab.
I'll still take mine in the living room.