Bowls Become Absurd

LITTLE ROCK — Ten games into the bowl calendar, there was the ultimate absurdity.

On Dec. 28, it's Oklahoma State vs. Alabama in Shreveport. The loser will be just that, seven times over. Each team is 6-6 and the matchup will get more attention than usual because once-mighty Alabama will have hired its fourth or fifth or sixth choice as a head coach or the search will be on hold while No. 5 or No. 6 coaches a bowl game. Wonderfully descriptive, ignominious comes to mind. The Independence Bowl is not singled out for such a slam; Shreveport just happens to be the site with the .500 teams. New Mexico, Florida State, Minnesota, and Iowa are other bowl teams that will be 6-7 if they lose later in the month. Such are the dangers of adding a 12th game to the regular schedule and finding a spot for any six-W team. With the addition of the national championship game, there are four new bowls this year, which means 64 teams are competing in the postseason. More than one-third of them have lost at least five games. In fact, the participants have lost a total of 235 games. I remember when a bowl game was a reward for a splendid season. Also down for the count is the idea that the games are at locales easily identifiable as destinations. There are five games in Florida, including two in Orlando, and three in Arizona. San Diego is double dipping and that's easy to understand, particularly if you twice played golf in shorts in the days leading up to Arkansas' 18-17 victory over Arizona State in the 1985 Holiday Bowl. But, the new bowls include the New Mexico Bowl and the International Bowl. The former is in Albuquerque where the average temperature on Dec. 23 is 35 degrees. International means just that — the Jan. 6 game is in Toronto where the average temperature that time of year is 21. The Motor City Bowl in Detroit must have been such a hit that prospectors pushed north, looking for more gold. Can Anchorage be far behind? Back at the top of the bowl calendar, I worked my way south, looking for a reason to watch something prior to Jan. 1. Desperate for a fix, a college football junkie could dead-pan the following: • TCU-Northern Illinois, if you don't watch the first one, you can't watch ‘em all. • BYU-Oregon, Brigham Young quarterback John Beck has the No. 2 efficiency rating in the NCAA. • Troy-Rice, Arkansas opens against Troy in 2007. • South Florida-East Carolina and Central Michigan-Middle Tennessee, should help the kids with geography homework. • New Mexico-San Jose State and Tulsa-Utah, traffic will be terrible on the Saturday before Christmas. • Arizona State-Hawaii, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan could challenge Darren McFadden for the Heisman. • Florida State-UCLA, checking the Seminoles' offense post-Jeff Bowden. • Oklahoma State-Alabama, history in the making. • California-Texas A&M, Aggie jokes work well on New Year's Eve. • Rutgers-Kansas State, Rutgers' defense is team personified. • Clemson-Kentucky, the Wildcats return to the Razorback schedule in ‘07 and junior quarterback Andre Woodson had some impressive numbers in ‘06. • Missouri-Oregon State, Mike Anderson is competing against Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel for the adoration of Tiger fans. • South Carolina-Houston, just to watch Gamecock wide receiver Sydney Rice. • Minnesota-Texas Tech, the over-under is 50 on pass attempts by Tech's Graham Harrell, who threw 561 during the season. • Maryland-Purdue, Maryland's Testudo is in the finals of the National Mascot Challenge to be decided at the Capital One Bowl. • Navy-Boston College, a coach who was mentioned for the North Carolina State job vs. the team of the coach who was hired. • Iowa-Texas, once in the national title picture, how will the Longhorns play only 80 miles from home? • Virginia Tech-Georgia, Frank Beamer and Mark Richt, two of the best. • Nevada-Miami, a blue field on a big screen is the perfect backdrop for a New Year's Eve party. Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media's Arkansas News Bureau. e-mail:

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