One of the knocks on the Big Ten recently has been their performance in bowl games. Nowhere was it more starkly evident than just last season, when the conference went 1-6 in bowl games. Iowa was the only team to notch a win, prevailing over utterly hopeless South Carolina.
(”What’s with this football here, eh? Who are these guys in the pads? I want my Jeter!”)
But the gripe from the BXI has always been that aside from the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, the bowl games are essentially road games. The Rose Bowl date with the Pac-10 is in Pasadena, a scant couple miles from the USC campus. Up until this year, three of the conference’s bowl slots were in Florida - SEC country, basically - and the others were in Texas and Arizona. As a matter of fact, in none of the 7 games was the Big Ten team closer to the bowl site than their opponent. It usually wasn’t even close.
The Big Ten is looking to level that playing field just a little bit, though, and reports are that they’re looking hard at a site in New York. One tiny problem, though - there’s going to be lots of those guys in that picture above.
The NCAA is an odd organization. You can’t give an athlete a ride to the airport without it potentially being seen as an “improper benefit,” but football players going to a bowl game can legally be given all kinds of crap with no questions asked.
And, examining the list of the schwag that’s being handed out, the sting of going to the Poinsettia or Humanitarian Bowl is somewhat offset by the sweet gifts you’ll get for showing up.
After the jump, a look at the best and worst bowl gifts.
All last-minute 11th-hour college football playoff protest lock-in petition candlelight vigils have failed, and the BCS has already declared who will play for the national championship. Sorry, Texas, Alabama, and Utah — two other states, Oklahoma and Florida, are going to the BCS Championship. Is it the right one? Meh, probably. But if we had playoffs, it might’ve been something weird like Texas Tech and Penn State. Yuck.
Looking at the BCS games:
• We have two teams outside the top 10 that are in the BCS? Well, hell, put ‘em in the same game! Unlikely Big East champion Cincinnati and ACC winner Virginia Tech will see each other in the Orange Bowl.
• This might be hard to believe, but Ohio State is in the Fiesta Bowl. This is not a repeat from 2006, 2003, or 2002. Honestly, why even have bowl contingency plans for these guys? They’ll play Texas.
• The last time Utah played in a BCS game, they got set up with BCS fall boy Pittsburgh and massacred them. This time they’ll get a slightly better challenge, facing off against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
• And the Rose Bowl. Hey, sure.
Now to go through the rest of the bowl games, one by one, in painstaking detail. Okay, just a couple interesting ones:
• Really? Does Charlie Weis wearing a lei this year represent anything that should happen in a fair and God-governed just world? The Irish went 6-6. Instead of schlepping off to some obscure game in Boise or Houston, Notre Dame gets the Hawai’i Bowl. No-foolin’ not-snowing beach-humpin’ Hawai’i. Since they play the local football squadron, odds are the Rainbowless Warriors will probably whump them, as is the local custom.
• Boise State, by going perfect, gets the high honor of playing not another strong power-conference team, but probably the next strongest mid-major, TCU, in the Poinsettia Bowl. Perhaps one of the most recently-created games will be the locale of the best non-BCS game. If nothing else, the bowl game will be a step up from 2006, when TCU smashed Northern Illinois by 30.
• “We beat the guys in the national championship game!” “Really? Because we beat the guys who beat the other guys in the national championship game!” It’s Ole Miss and Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
• The MAC got five games. Five games? Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, too? Eek. As for Ball State and Tulsa, who both were supposed to roll in as the MAC and C-USA champs, respectively, they will lock helmets in the GMAC Bowl in a battle of Elisha Cuthbert-style sloppy seconds.
If I missed your favorite team’s game, I’m sure I did it for a good reason and/or to protect you. But no, seriously. Your team has a great shot to win the game. Here’s the master list of every single one.
Yes, the Giants and Titans also clinched the NFC East and AFC South divisions respectively, but the Arizona Cardinals also gave themselves a division championship by virtue of not being the Seahawks, 49ers, or Rams. They’re 8-5, a record which isn’t even guaranteed an AFC Wild Card spot. Six of their wins are against losing teams. Against winning teams, they give up over 32 points a game. The Arizona Cardinals win the NFC West, everyone. The lone argument in favor of implementing a bowl system in the NFL.
In other fuss-trating news around the lower 48:
“I’m very frustrated on the way, particularly today’s game unfolded,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy kinda said. That’s how the Packers’ official site transcribes it, but ‘R’ you sure about that ‘R’ in the word “frustrated?”
So here’s a fun one. Carolina Panther Jeremy Bridges was arrested — perhaps a first in NFL history — over a dispute involving champagne. THE ROCK HILL (SC) HERALD reports when it was uncorked, some other diners got sprayed. Although it doesn’t say in the story, I think you can assume what ensued. FOOD FIGHT!
Say buh-bye to Varitek, Red Sox fans. His agent says he will decline arbitration with Boston, and will talk with other teams. Of less consequence, Paul Byrd won’t accept arbitration either. The Boras has spoken.
Oh, yes, the Lions are still 0-something. The DETROIT NEWS looks at the depth chart, finds a little-known playmaking receiver named Calvin Johnson and asserts they have to throw it to them more if they’re going to win a game. Interesting idea!
Like we could go an entire Speed Read without previewing the upcoming NAIA football championship game. Mighty Carroll College, from Helena, Montana, has won five of six championships. The Saints opponent is the plucky University of Sioux Falls Cougars. Both teams’ colors are purple and gold. Oh, how embarrassing to wear the same dress to the debutante ball!
With another college football season down the drain, SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY gets an update on the annual argument for playoffs.
(U. of Georgia president Michael Adams tells one of his famous fish stories)
University of Georgia president Michael Adams has sent a letter to NCAA head honcho Myles Brandadvocating an 8-team playoff. In the plan, the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls would serve as quarterfinal contests on New Year’s Day, with the semifinals the following week and the title game the week after.
We wonder if Adams would be pitching this idea if it was his 2-loss Bulldogs at the Superdome last night instead of 2-loss LSU. Although he says the chances of his idea succeeding are “50-50″, other school leaders don’t share his optimism.
In case anyone missed it or found something better to watch, LSU beat Ohio State 38-24 Monday night, becoming the first 2-loss team to win the BCS championship.
The defeat prolongs the agony for the Buckeyes, who lost in their 2nd straight BCS title appearance, and knocks the Nuts to 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games.
The photo above features OSU cornerback Malcolm Jenkins reacting to an interception that he thought was a Pick-Six, but was just a pick. The INT was big enough news for his hometown paper in New Jersey to run a story all about it.
EVERY DAY SHOULD BE SATURDAY has got to close the beaches, as another victim has fallen to that terror of the sea - jet skis:
Virginia Tech linebacker Vince Hall may not play in tonight’s Orange Bowl, thanks to a banged-up knee from scurrying around on a Sea Doo. Hall’s injury was suffered in the surf on Sunday during a team beach outing.
VT trainer Mike Goforth told the ROANOKE TIMES, “They were playing around in the water and Vince went to take a step and banged it a little bit. It’s real stiff right now. I’m not going to push him at this point.”
The key to the Cowboys’ victory was the play of their QB Zac Robinson, who went 15 of 20 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 64 more yards and two more scores.
Gundy knows a little bit about being a quarterback jack-of-all-trades for a bowl game. While under center for OSU in the 1988 Holiday Bowl, Mike actually received a pass on a trick play from the one & only Barry Sanders.
Sadly, Gundy only made it as far as the 1-yard-line before Sanders found the end zone on the next play. 19 years later, it appears Mike has shown no irrational outbursts anger about missing out on a trick TD. You know why?
Crikey! The guys from Tennessee and Wisconsin sure can put away the Bloomin’ Onions:
The NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN serves up the news of the Volunteers & Badgers chowing down before facing each other on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl. The sponsoring steakhouse set up a welcoming meal on Wednesday for the two teams in Tampa.
When the plates were cleared, 5,500 pounds of food were working their way through the digestive systems of the boys from Knoxville & Madison.
Among the amounts gorged upon were 750 pounds of steak & chicken, 900 ribs, 700 Caesar salads, 1,300 slices of chocolate cake, 85 gallons of BBQ sauce - and the piece de resistance, 950 Bloomin’ Onions.
Hope the Tampa-area Walgreens had enough Pepto-Bismol in stock for the morning after.
The ex-NFL QB, ex-ESPN analyst and semi-successful restauranteur visited the Bulldogs in Memphis as they were preparing for Saturday’s Liberty Bowl contest against Central Florida.
Theismann currently resides in the Tennessee city, and has been friends with MSU coach Sylvester Croom since their days together in the pros. Joe told the ‘Dogs to “relish the moment” of taking part in post-season play and “cherish the friendships” built during their collegiate careers.
Oh, and to boycott “Monday Night Football”. And are they hiring in the MSU media department back in Starkville? (OK, maybe not the last two.)
We’re not sure if Joe also told the Bulldogs to break a leg.