Bowl Week Starts in Earnest
I love bowl games, and I don’t understand college football fans who don’t. Largely-equitable teams, on neutral fields, during the holidays when we often have plenty of time to watch. What’s not to love?
Anyway, the weekend kicked off a string of 20something bowl games in a week’s time. Observations from the first wave:
Motor City Bowl:
1. Did Howard Schnellenberger really once coach at OU? I mean, how could that have happened?
The Colonel, of course, is one of my all-time favorites. More interesting than every OU or OSU coach since, combined. Now Schnellenberger is 6-0 in bowl games, after his victory over Central Michigan. None of those bowl wins came as a Sooner.
Schnellenberger’s Florida Atlantic Owls doused him with Gatorade after the game, ruining a very nice suit, and lifted him for a little shoulder ride. I was happy for him.
2. The Motor City MVP was the Central Michigan fans and the bowl organizers. Did they really draw 41,000 fans for this low-level bowl in a downtrodden city?
Meinke Car Care Bowl:
1. By far the worst name in bowldom. Not even close, really. Papajohns.com Bowl is a way better name, and it stinks.
2. But this Charlotte bowl had West Virginia’s Bill Stewart, everybody’s favorite coach. The man who charmed us all at the Fiesta Bowl last year got a 31-30 victory over North Carolina, then showed his humanity with his downhome, on-field ESPN interview after the game.
“We love ESPN,” Stewart said without a hint of bravado. “Call us anytime. We’ll play any day you want.”
Every coach in America should study Stewart’s simple openness and honesty. He ought to give seminars at the coaches’ convention in January.
Stewart was asked about his detractors at West Virginia, and while he admitted there was some critics, he said, “But I know most of them.”
3. UNC coach Butch Davis blew this one. Up 29-24 after late-third quarter touchdown, Davis ordered an extra point. He should have called for a 2-point conversion.
This isn’t the NFL, where two yards are hard-earned. In college, 2-point conversions are manageable for inventive offenses. Some day soon, some pioneer will start going for two after every touchdown and others will follow.
But Davis blinked. When you’re up five, a coach must ask himself this question. What’s more likely? That both teams keep scoring touchdowns? Or that the opponent starts kicking mutiple field goals? In the NFL, maybe the latter. In college, no way.
You’re up five, particularly as the game hits the home stretch, and you’ve got to try to get back ahead by seven. Davis didn’t, West Virginia scored and won 31-30.
4. Noticed John Blake on the Carolina sideline. You see the Tar Heels coming up on recruiting lists, even out here in Oklahoma. I think Blake is a valuable member of Davis’ staff, which has done a very good job reviving UNC football.
5. It’s not surprising that West Virginia’s Pat White is the first quarterback to go 4-0 in bowls as a starter.
Think about it. We’re only talking about since 1972. In those 36 years, how many quarterbacks started as freshmen? Not many. How many of those started four years? Fewer. How many of those made it to four bowls, especially in the days before the proliferation of all the bowls? How many won all four bowls?
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