IRVING, Texas — Vikings-Packers, NFC showdown last Sunday afternoon, and during a break in play, here came the likenesses of Landry Jones and Johnny Manziel on the screen.
Then Troy Aikman began talking about the Cotton Bowl quarterback derby, and all of a sudden, it seemed just fine that the OU-Texas A&M showdown is one of only two bowl games not televised by ESPN's family of networks.
ESPN is the master of hype, but it has many a mouth to feed.
Fox — Big Fox — has OU-A&M, and the Sooners and Aggies get all the love during Fox's NFL broadcasts.
“Yeah, you get talked about by a Hall of Famer, it's always pretty cool,” Landry said this week at the Omni hotel in Las Colinas, the Cotton Bowl's headquarters. “I think it's cool that he got to talk about us and this whole game.”
The Cotton Bowl's move away from Jan. 1 and to a Friday night following New Year's Day gave it a prime-time slot for television and a good calendar spot for traveling fans. And Big Fox embraces the game.
“I'm always watching the (Dallas) Cowboys play,” said A&M safety Steven Terrell. “Every time I see that commercial, it kind of gets me going. Gets me ready for the game. They've been building it up, building it up.”
ESPN has the contract of every bowl except the Cotton and the Sun Bowl (CBS). Most of ESPN's games are on ESPN. The Gator and the Kraft Fight Hunger bowls were on ESPN2, the Capital One Bowl was on ABC and the Heart of Dallas Bowl was on ESPNU.
Some events not televised by ESPN can be cast to the dungeon, since ESPN seems to set the agenda for the nation's sporting priorities.
But nothing can eclipse the NFL. ESPN is out of the NFL business from Week 17 on, thus FOX spent Sunday promoting Landry and Johnny Football and the renewal of a rivalry that appeared over when A&M jumped to the Southeastern Conference.
“It's like we're playing an NFL playoff game, the attention they're giving to this game,” said OU center Gabe Ikard. “It's a cool experience.”
This is OU's biggest bowl game since the 2008 national title game. Since then, the Sooners have played in the Sun Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl against Connecticut and the Insight Bowl.
“It's just been interesting to see how this game's dynamic is so different than any other bowl game I've played in,” said Landry, who is 3-0 in bowl games as the OU quarterback. “It's been fun, and everyone around this place is really excited about playing it.”
None of Landry's three previous bowls registered on the national scale. This one does, thanks to Big Fox and Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.