Honestly, I really tried to get excited about Auburn vs. Oregon.
Let’s get this out of the way right upfront. As a fan of the college game, I was excited to see two teams other than the usual list of suspects take the field Monday night. No offense, but the best part of the game was having a pair of teams involved that, save for the real loyalist of the game and/or the programs involved, most of America had little clue about.
On the surface, it gave this BCS Title Game new allure. One team wearing shoes originally designed to have the words “Eat At Joes” in flashing red on the side. Announcers using specially designed graphics to show people where this place “Oregon” is located. Attempts made to have us believe that fans in those party tents were actually able to see the game in 3-D after hours of being lubed up on anything alcoholic available since the imbibing began Sunday afternoon.
However, something was amiss in both the lead up to the game and the actual meeting itself.
Talented young players? Check. Sold-out stadium with obscene legal and scalped ticket prices marked up to provide the seller with enough green to purchase 2-3 gallons of gas? Check. Uses of the phrase “Student-Athlete” just enough times to leave college football rookies in the audience believing every player actually knows where the campus bookstore is located? Check. Coaches giving short cliché answers in every on-field interview? Check. A late run where not even players on the field knew what was happening and had to be told from the bench? Check. Last second winning score designed to insure even those bored by the first half would stick around to justify those high advertising rates? Check and check.
OK, so where was my excitement level? Why is it that a repeat of the first two installments of “The Cape” seemed eminently much more entertaining?
No matter how hard a college football junkie will try to explain it away, there is no escaping the fact that this matchup to many was sub-par on the marquee level. When most people think about an institution of higher learning in Oregon, they find themselves wondering how much book learning it takes to cut down a field of trees. Talk about Auburn and some may still wonder how that kid Bo Jackson is doing these days, and isn’t Auburn where you go if Alabama is full?
Lighten up, Tigers and Ducks. You both earned the right to be there.
This actually was one of the more exciting Title games in recent memory, helped along by more than a few instances of interesting play calling in that second half.
But for me, this game was just that. Another game. Cheapened in many ways by the weeks leading up to it, and the reality that every other Bowl game is treated as little more than the red-headed stepchildren of a forced marriage.
Lighten up, redheads. We are all still stunningly attractive and intelligent people.
The run up to each game just seemed to be background white noise. Sure, our favorite teams were going bowling. Yes, the next generation of NFL talent was on display (AJ Green, Cam Newton Da’Quan Bowers, to name just a few). We got a peek into some great old rivalries (Miami-Notre Dame), watched two distinct generations of outstanding coaches play mind games (Urban Meyer vs. Joe Paterno), saw three programs being birthed into the world of “big time” college football (UCF, USF and FIU), and as always saw at least one team make their case for a National Title they weren’t allowed to compete for (TCU going 13-0 with a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl).
The preceding paragraph was not paid for by boosters for any Florida athletic program. They just happen to be the State that, on the whole, has more and better college football talent than any other US land mass.
Live with it. Move on.
But 35 Bowl games over three and a half weeks? Really? Not just the physical number of games, but the laughable distribution of what was once supposed to be a reward for an outstanding season.
UTEP not only went 6-7, but they were hammered by BYU. They didn’t deserve to be there. Seven other programs entered the bowl season and exited with losing records.
Boise State captured the imagination of a college football nation more than prepared to see a “little program” shoved down the collective BCS throats. When they lost late in the season to erase their undefeated mark and make the overlords breathe that sigh of relief, they were relegated to a very minor bowl in a city where no one cared unless surgically enhanced females showed up naked at halftime.
The NCAA, ever mindful of that lucrative and never-ending flow of lucre from the TV networks, boosters and advertisers, allowed Cam Newton to play in the Title game despite the ongoing investigation into what he knew and when he knew it about his father and Auburn cheating the eligibility rules. There are still plenty of questions about the incidents, and Newton has been cagey at best at times regarding his innocence, and as noted this investigation is far from over. But remember, this WAS the National Title game we’re talking about.
That rug this one was shoveled under must be big enough to drive a Buick into it.
One week before Ohio State was to play Arkansas in the showcase Sugar Bowl, the NCAA suddenly “modified” it’s rules allowing QB Terrelle Pryor and four of his teammates to take part. All five were found guilty of breaking rules about additional cash, handed five-game suspensions, only to have these suspensions lifted for the one game after Sugar Bowl officials made their whining as public as possible.
And for the cappers we have yet another politician, this time the Vice President of the United States, calling for a college football playoff. In case you haven’t noticed it, and to the delight of those involved you probably haven’t in this time of American wasteful spending, there is now a Political Action Committee (PAC) consisting of Democrats and Republicans finally agreeing on the need for immediate action.
Supporting candidates who favor a college football playoff system.
Nice to see that spirit of bipartisanship is working for critical issues.
Bowl season isn’t fun anymore, for a lot of people. This is the first year I can remember talking to and hearing from loyalists, journalists, rabid fans and plenty of backers for programs that were even in a bowl game this season about how boring the payoff had become. Sure, it was great to be invited. But there just wasn’t the unfettered joy about watching a game unfold that had been there in the past.
A pathetic and greedy over saturation of bowl games. Rules being changed at the last minute to ensure no loss of ticket buyers and broadcast revenue. The conspiratorial and potentially illegal nature of insuring only a select few schools can compete for a title. Mismatches featuring teams where fans would have to travel across the country to take in the game, all during one of the worst economic crises in history. The self-serving fanning of playoff flames from those seeking only to raise their own public profile, knowing that no matter how high the rhetoric level, nothing will change until the BCS, NCAA and TV networks decide it will.
Our elected officials wasting time, money, energy, air and brain cells clamoring for change in something as petty and narcissistic as a college football playoff system, systematically taxing and overspending their constituents into oblivion.
Remember when the college football Bowl season was actually fun and interesting at the same time?
What a shame “The Cape” can’t make that reappear.