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Battling the boring bowl bonanza

New Year's Day has always been a big day for football fans but the landscape of the college postseason has changed so much that we hardly notice Jan. 1 anymore. We can't tell it from any other day without a calendar. I can remember back to the days of the "Big 4" where you had few viewing choices around your fatback and collard greens.

Back in the day, one had to choose between the Sugar and Cotton Bowls in the afternoon or get up and down and flip the channels back and forth. In the evening, there was the Rose Bowl and the late night game was the Orange Bowl. Your warm-ups were pretty much limited to the Gator Bowl and the Sun Bowl.

That all started to change with the advent of the Fiesta Bowl and when the old Tangerine Bowl was upgraded to the Citrus Bowl, now named after a credit card. The Lions Club of Georgia got into the act with the Peach Bowl, and we started to wonder if a nuclear accident occurred spraying the college bowl business with radioactivity. It literally grew like a baseball slugger on steroids.

Once television executives figured out there was big money in sports the bowl business really took off. We now have what, 119 bowl games? Sorry, I'm wrong. That's 119 major college football teams. Any off those with at least a break even record now qualify, and usually get selected for some bowl game somewhere.

I love football so I don't have a major problem with this bowl surplus but it does bother me when a team enters the regular season finale with a 5-6 record but calls itself salvaging its' season if it can earn a trip to the GMAC Bowl. How is losing only six games with a chance to lose seven salvaging your season? How can GMAC sponsor a bowl when they struggle to finance automobiles?

I won't get to watch any bowl games on New Years Day because I will be attending one. The Georgia Bulldogs are playing in the Credit Card Bowl in the place where credit cards go to die, Orlando, Florida. I suppose there are more high dollar attractions in central Florida than any other piece of earth that I know of. If there is a bigger money pit anywhere I hope Georgia never plays in a bowl game there.

Disney World absolutely does not interest me, especially during the holidays, but it does interest my wife. I have vowed to take her to at least one of Mickey's parks while we are in Florida even if she has to drag me kicking and screaming. Not really, I'll put on my best game face and head to the Magic Kingdom with a smile on my face. She deserves at least that.

I've made it a point not to watch all of the bowls so as not to overdose on games like Buffalo vs. Connecticut in the International Bowl played in Canada. How did Houston, Tex., lose the Bluebonnet Bowl somewhere along the way only for us to end up with a game in Canada? Maybe margarine sales fell off while Bell Helicopters got a big government contract. The Bluebonnet was sponsored by a margarine manufacturer wasn't it? Yes there is a helicopter bowl.

This bowl business has become really big. From a handful of games named for common plants to a rash of games named after money. That's the American way. And we thought the economy was bad. Heck, when the good times return we might really end up with 119 bowls, some of them played on other planets. It'll only take one TV set on Mars to do it.

Web posted on Thursday, January 01, 2009

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