A few musings about the busiest part of the bowl season, the preliminaries to the BCS title game:
PRIVATE THOUGHTS: This bowl season is defined by the success of private colleges and universities, several that have not had much football success in recent years. The following private insitutions were victorious in their bowl games: Brigham Young, SMU, Baylor, Rice, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Tulsa and Syracuse. And Notre Dame is playing Alabama for the national championship.
RETRO: Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time since folks were playing sans helmets (1915). Northwestern won a bowl for the first time since no-facemask headgear. (1949).
THEY HAVE HIGHER PRIORITIES: Army, Navy and Air Force all lost their bowl games.
EXCITEMENT: Iowa State fans purchased about 15,000 tickets for the Liberty Bowl. Northern Illinois took 26 busloads of students to Miami for the Orange Bowl. Baylor sent three busloads of students to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl.
ALREADY A HIT: The most show highlight of the bowl season will be the plastering hit South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney placed on Michigan’s Vincent Smith. When I first saw it, all I thought all that would be left of Smith was the outline of his uniform on the turf. It’s a good way to introduce himself to the world as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate for 2013.
THE REPLACEMENT REFS SURFACE: Clowney’s hit occurred after a fourth-down attempt fell clear short of the measuring sticks and the referee, looking straight at the chains, signaled first down ... UCLA was awarded a touchdown on the final play of the game against Baylor when replay showed the Bruin receiver was well short of the end zone,
EXCITING GAMES: Several on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day: Clemson-LSU, South Carolina-Michigan, Stanford-Wisconsin.
MOST MENTIONED NAME DURING BOWL SEASON BY THE TV PUNDITS: Wisconsin interim coach Barry Alvarez.
BEST PLACE TO HEAD FOR A BOWL GAME DURING AN ICY CHRISTMAS SEASON: Florida. The state has hosted or will host seven BCS bowls.
BIGGEST CONTRAST IN BANDS: Tie between the Rose Bowl (Wisconsin’s classic, precisioned and traditional marching group and Stanford, a roaming SNL skit with musical instruments) and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Air Force, the classic military band and Rice (see Stanford description).
BEST OLD-SCHOOL MAXIM: In almost every case, the victorious team had the fewest turnovers.
NO MONKEYING AROUND: As motivation for his team, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald brought out a stuffed monkey in the locker room, symbolic of the Wildcats’ having the monkey on their backs for the school’s nine-game postseason losing streak. After the victory over Mississippi State, Fitzgerald allowed his team to beat up and ripped apart the stuffed animal in the locker room.
INTRODUCING THE MAYAN STYLE TO CLOCK MANAGEMENT: LSU’s Les Miles.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com)