Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bowl Season: Wyoming Crashes the Party

So, the New Mexico Bowl between Wyoming and Fresno State was actually a pretty exciting game in the end - ugly, but exciting. If you like bad coaching decisions offset by inept special teams, this game had it all.

The question, of course, is how I could be led to care about a game between Wyoming and Fresno State at all. I have MOCK!, my colleague and fellow blogger (, to thank for it. He invited me to join him and his friends/cousins in a college bowl pick'em group. It's a small group with only six members. I only know one of the other guys as he is also a music teacher. I had an uneven day yesterday. We all picked Fresno State so we all came up goose eggs on that one. I did pick Rutgers over Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl, though, so that will help.

I will not go on too long about how ridiculous the bowl games are. Many people have written very eloquently on the subject. I do think that the BCS is an absolutely absurd way to pick a national champion. However, the one thing more absurd is the United States Congress spending any time whatsoever legislating upon the matter. I think it was dumb for them to get involved with steroids in baseball, too. Come on, there's nothing more important for all of you to be doing with your time?!!

The fact of the matter is that as long as the bowls continue to make gobs of money for everyone involved, they're not going anywhere. So, we might as well enjoy them for what they are. It's not a tournament. It's more of a three-week, nationwide football festival. I had friends in the University of Maryland marching band back in the day and I know they really enjoyed bowl games. They provided a chance for a free vacation in a warmer locale. Hawaii was the best case scenario, of course.

The New Mexico Bowl was born in 2006, primarily a means of assuring that at least one of the state's two FBS schools would be invited to a bowl game when eligible. Unfortunately, both the University of New Mexico (1-11) and New Mexico State (3-10) fell well short of the 6-6 win-loss threshold this season. Wyoming was not considered by the clearly useless experts to have much of a chance. The Cowboys did play horribly, as expected. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for me, the Fresno State Bulldogs played worse.

I had a more natural rooting interest in the St. Petersburg Bowl (in its second year of existence). I spent two years of graduate school at Rutgers and have been absolutely astonished by their rise to prominence over the past few years. During the two years I was in New Brunswick, the Scarlet Knights won a total of five games. There was much discussion of whether they actually belonged in the Big East conference or even Division I-A. But this season marked the fifth consecutive bowl appearance for Rutgers. They're finally capitalizing on being the largest university in one of the nation's most populous states. You'd think they could have a better men's basketball team, too, but one thing at a time.

If I were to build a football or a hockey team around a single athletic skill, it would be speed. You can't hit a player if you can't catch him. Rutgers is a very fast team and UCF always seemed about a step behind them.

I think the camera angles can do a lot to enhance a football game. The higher vantage point used in the New Mexico Bowl, and that most typical of football coverage, is great for watching plays develop. However, the lower angle used in the St. Pete Bowl is much better for exhibiting the skills of the athletes. There is not a sport in the world which benefits more from television than does football so I'm sure they've explored all of this. But I think the lower angle makes for a more exciting game.

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