Be kind to Shreveport
The Independence Bowl was played Sunday night in obscurity. The crowd was listed at 41,567, and maybe that’s accurate. I don’t know. I didn’t watch.
But has a college football bowl game ever had such little going for it in terms of national attention?
Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech, on a Sunday night, opposite the San Diego-Denver showdown for the AFC West.
This was a mighty fall for the Independence, which has scratched its way up the ladder of bowls. In recent years, Shreveport has hosted some of the biggest names in college football. Oklahoma. Alabama. Nebraska. LSU. Colorado. Notre Dame. South Carolina. Texas A&M. Mississippi.
The Independence has been very, very good to our state schools. Shreveport brought OU back to the bowl business in 1999, and though the 7-4 Sooners probably deserved a better slot, OU fans turned out en masse, perhaps 30,000 strong, for the game against Ole Miss.
Then in 2006, OSU returned to the bowl business after a one-year hiatus, playing Alabama in Mike Gundy’s second year as head coach. The Cowboys beat Bama in a thriller in front of a huge OSU turnout.
The game was a great stage for the Cowboys. How often does OSU get a fair shot at the likes of Alabama?
But the Independence got caught short this year. Neither the Big 12 nor the SEC produced enough bowl teams to fill the Independence berths, and ESPN negotiations put the Shreveport bowl against the NFL.
Truth is, there are some bad time slots for bowl games. Today is one. The Papajohns.com Bowl, matching Rutgers and North Carolina State, kicks off at 2 p.m. in Birmingham, Ala. What if OKC was hosting a bowl game at 2 p.m. today, maybe Northwestern vs. Kentucky? How much excitement would be zipping through town? Not much. Now you know how Birmingham feels.
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