Monday 9 January 2007 we had a bowl game. A major college football bowl game, between the so-called #1 and #2 ranked Division I + BCS ranked teams. For the so-called mythical National Championship. A whole bloody week after New Year's Day.
I guess you can say that I am peeved.
When I was a lad growing up, New Year's Day was a Big Deal. There was the Rose Parade in the morning and then the football games started. Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl... NBC made a grab one year to inject in an extra more morningish bowl game, the Fiesta Bowl, but that wasn't so bad.
It wasn't New Year's until I got to see the Nebraska Cornhuskers play in the afternoon. And the Big Ten's beefy Midwest cornfed linemen would likely as not get trounced by those West Coast types... USC, UCLA. "Mommy, what's a Boilermaker?" "They're engineering students from Purdue." Ah, the Big Ten. Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State... Funny how until I started looking at colleges, I didn't even know there was a Northwestern University, let alone a Big Ten football playing Northwestern. (grin)
But this drama all unfolded _ON_ New Year's Day. Like it was supposed to. Occasionally, things would get all bolixed up when New Year's hit on a Sunday, and there was still a discussion "should young college men play football on a Sunday." When I was growing up, I knew there was an NFL -- the Buffalo Bills were nearby, I had relatives who spoke of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers were a legend, as were the Bears and a few other teams. But we didn't watch NFL football. That didn't come til college, where it was Something To Do in the dorm on a Sunday. Instead, Real Pro Sports were played in the National League and the World Series.
So pretty much, except for walking over to the stadium and seeing the second half of high school games with the Medina Mustangs, football consisted only of those perfect New Year's bowl games.
Then this BCS crap got started and Got People Thinking. And derailed the system. First they monkeyed with the sanctity of the Big Ten-Pac Ten Rose Bowl rivalry. Then they started putting the BCS bowl games on featured primetime slots other than New Year's.
And January 2007 is when it all got out of hand and melted down.
#1 Ohio State lost in a lopsided palindromic score to #2 Florida. Now to understand the true horror of this, you have to consider the following: (1) Yet another Big Ten meltdown when it comes to the Big Game. (2) Living in Michigan, next to the fervor of the fans/zealots of the maize-and-blue, there are the people of the buckeye. (3) With a very few exceptions, I hate all teams from California and Florida. (The exceptions, if you care, are typically rooting for Stanford in anything, and it was fun to watch the San Francisco 49ers during the Joe Montana and what's-his-name years which followed.)
And finally, (4) the local Grand Rapids Press ran a piece noting that Ohio State played their entire regular season schedule in 56 days ending on Saturday 25 November 2006. The BCS National Championship game was 51 days later. Any wonder that they might not in as good a shape as their competitors, who'd played what, two more weeks after they did?
The Rose Bowl
Previously #2, I think the Michigan Wolverines were #4 going into the Rose Bowl. I forget now... did anyone from that team actually show up for the game against USC?
The Best Bowl Game End Goes To...
I ran across the ending of the Boise State game. Nothing else to add, except to smile at all those devotees of the traitorous BCS system.
And The National Champion Is...
I'll stick with the Grand Valley State University Lakers. I live in Allendale Township, the Lakers have been great the last few years and they've nailed down the Division II National Championship again in fine fashion. I'll even forgive them for beating up on my graduate school, Michigan Tech, earlier in the season.
All other talk of a National Championship in Division I is meaningless until they put in a playoff system.
One Last Bowl Game
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the International Bowl, held in Toronto at the Rogers Centre (Skydome) on Saturday 6 January 2007. Western Michigan University, my current school, and the University of Cincinnati. Unusual game -- the Cincinnati Bearcats ran off 24 unanswered points. Ugh. Painful. Almost all of them in the first QUARTER. Yikes. Time to slit the wrists and go on home. But then, the WMU Broncos sucked it up in the second half and ran off 24 unanswered points of their own. My god, the game is TIED! Bearcats kick a field goal, it's 27-24. WMU lines up for a field goal with like less than a minute in the game... and wide right. Okay, so we lost. It was a major effort to not fold and quit, and considering that the team was in the bottom of their conference just the other year, I am very proud of them. And Toronto got a good crowd and it sounds like they'll do another American NCAA football bowl game again. And Rick Dipert, if you're out there and ever find my blog, congratulations on your alma mater beating my employer!
Now, lest you think I'm a hypocrite, let me tell why I don't object to a January 6th International Bowl. (1) It's not a BCS game with National Championship implications, it's just a new first-time bowl game fitting into an available weekend slot. No attempt to milk the system and stretch it out. (2) WMU hadn't started classes yet, so the players would be back for Monday.
There. I feel much better now.