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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Friday, January 8, 2010
The Decline of Civilization, Part 1 – The College Bowl System

Here we are ¼ of the way through January and what do I notice on the TV at the gym last night?

College football.

My kids are amazed (or just bored to tears and hoping my stories will lead to ice cream if they feign interest) when I tell them how the bowl system worked when I was their age.

First in the old days there were fewer bowls so getting invited to one meant something; unlike today where college football is more akin to the NBA and NHL in that more than half the teams get to go to some form of post-season. Nothing watching Wyoming play in front of less than 25,000 at the “New Mexico Bowl” and needing double OT to avoid having their record fall below .500.

Hey look at the bright side Wyoming fans; you dug deep and beat the likes of Florida Atlantic and Weber State to just get those 6 wins you needed to be bowl-eligible. Unlike say those losers at Michigan in 1972 which lost only 1 game all season, but in those days you had to win the Big 10 title to even go to a bowl and since that 1 loss was to Ohio State.... well too bad so sad Big Blue, you stayed home.

Second there was a rough ordering to the quality of bowls in that the closer the bowl game was to New Year's Day, the better it was. You started off with your Independence and Blue Bonnet Bowls in December, then your Sun and Holidays Bowls toward the end of the month, and then early New Year's Day you had the Gator Bowl until you finally got down to the real meaty bowls played by conference champions like the Cotton, Rose, Orange, and Sugar. In later years you had some party crashers with bowls that managed to squeak in and play early in the day like the Fiesta and Florida Citrus but those were still quality games.

Family tradition would dictate that my mother would kick my brother and me out of the house by half-time of the Cotton Bowl for an hour of exercise in the yard; otherwise we would be in front of the TV for a good 12 hours that day. Family tradition also dictated that this one hour of exercise would be filled with a rousing game of football; they still talk about my impersonation of Earl Campbell that led to my brother getting his face split open and the resulting trip to the hospital for stitches.

Anyway in regard to rough ordering of bowls.... so what we were they playing the other night, nearly a week past the Rose and Sugar Bowls and long past when your HOA requires you to take down your Christmas lights? The GMAC Bowl featuring Troy State and Central Michigan. That game was the warm-up for the national championship?

I know it's all about money, both in terms of the number of bowl games and stretching them out to fill ESPN's television schedules but are we really better off as a country for giving a mediocrity like Wyoming or Texas A&M a bowl payout or allowing traditions like the “New Mexico Bowl”to exist? Couldn't Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank satisfy their nefarious urge to over-regulate the economy by instead stepping in and stopping this nonsense.... okay maybe not Nancy and Barney but you get the idea.

At the rate things are deteriorating, one day in the distant future my boys will be telling their children about the good old days of the “St. Petersburg Bowl by Beef 'O' Brady” and when the bowl season ended before pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training