Of football bowls and the Heisman
Published 11:25 pm Thursday, November 30, 2023
This column is about football, or rather the Heisman Trophy and bowl games. I’ll start with the Heisman.
As most serious football fans know, the Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the best football player in the country, not the guy who on a national championship team. Although, that has happened in years past when more deserving athletes were passed over because the winner was either on a national championship team or headed to the championship.
It’s also not supposed to be awarded to someone who played for a favorite team, ala Paul Hornung, who quarterbacked a 2-8 Notre Dame football team in 1956. Just as a note on that: Johnny Majors, who played quarterback for an undefeated Tennessee team and Jim Brown, an all-around running back and player for Syracuse, were also candidates that year. Brown would go on to become an NFL legend.
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This year, there are several good candidates for the Heisman and in the interest of transparency and disclosure, I have a favorite. He plays for my alma mater and only leads the nation in total offense, among other things. I hope he wins it; he deserves it.
Now to the bowls.
According to Google, there are 43 post-season football games. That’s a bunch of football to be crammed into December and early January. Trying to keep up with who is playing where and against whom can confuse the brain.
When I was growing up, back in the days before cable, satellite service and streaming, there were three television networks and six bowls: the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sun Bowl and Gator Bowl. The networks divided coverage and all of them, with the exception of the Sun Bowl and occasionally the Gator Bowl, were broadcast on New Year’s Day.
New Year’s morning began with the Tournament of Roses Parade and swung right into the bowls.
Then somewhere things began to change. Suddenly we had the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas; the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.; the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.; and others. It was like a dam had burst and post-season bowls were flooding the gridiron landscape. No longer would we watch six traditional New Year’s Day classics. We now had other bowls to whet our appetite for the Jan. 1 classics. And now, with the college football playoffs, the traditional bowls have been made playoff games leading to the National Championship Game, which is not a bowl but for the sake of tradition should have a name. How about the “We Made It” Bowl? I know it sounds silly, but there are some strange bowls out there. Let’s look at a few.
One is my favorite, The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, formerly the Humanitarian Bowl, which is played in Boise, Idaho. This is no slap at Boise, but who wants to play a bowl game in the winter in Boise Idaho? How about the Wasabi Fenway Bowl played at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., or the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York. Fenway and Yankee Stadium are great places for to watch baseball. But football?
Most of the other bowls are located south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and I’m sure folks are grateful for that. As for me, we’ve got a month left of college football and my recliner is ready.