The Ottumwa Courier

December 29, 2012

Too many meaningless bowl games?

‘A few good fans’ say nonsense

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — That “Bowl games: It’s a show about NOTHING” column I wrote a few weeks ago makes more and more sense with each bowl played so far in the 35-bowl-game lineup.

But, I’ve heard some push-back from “a few good fans” who say that’s nonsense. Too many meaningless bowl games? Maybe not.

I mean, that Northrop Grumnan Military Bowl Thursday night — where else are you going to get two of our finest military academies — San Jose State and Bowling Green — to square off? The Military Bowl trophy was on the line for heaven’s sake! These were our best and brightest officers, our future military leaders, squaring off on the gridiron. Weren’t they?

Have you ever served in the military? Have you ever put your life in the hands of a San Jose State fan, and ask him to put his life in yours? Then you probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

And while you’re thinking about that, think about this — the Military Bowl (previously known as the Eaglebank Bowl), had a recorded attendance of 17,835 tickets sold — though one estimate had the crowd less than 7,500. Not showing off — not falling behind — right there in that meaty part of the curve.

I’m a fair guy, but the magnitude of these bowl games is making me absolutely crazy. I rooted for San Jose State in a sports bar 20 feet away from Bowling Green fans who wanted to kill me. So don’t think for one second you’re gonna come down here with your playoff talk and make me nervous.

And yet some of you want to get rid of this meaningless bowl system for a playoff! Well, I say, Son, we live in a world that has meaningless bowl games. And those bowl games have to be played by teams with mediocre accomplishments from mediocre conferences. Who else is gonna play in them? You? ... You?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom watching these meaningless bowl games — because they’re on TV! You weep for Bowling Green and you curse San Jose State. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Bowling Green’s loss, while tragic, probably saved lives — because people were watching it on TV instead of being out involved in some risky behavior, like returning gifts.

And my existence as a meaningless bowl game viewer, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at playoff parties, you WANT me watching those meaningless bowl games. You NEED me watching those meaningless bowl games.

We use words like interim head coach, empty seats, 6-6 records, and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl ... we use these words as the backbone to a season spent winning a few games and losing a few. You use ’em as a punch  line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to college football fans who rise and sleep under the mediocre entertainment value and meaninglessness I provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it.

I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a remote control and get a beer and some popcorn from the kitchen, maybe some cheese and crackers, and man up and watch the Belk Bowl. Either way, I don’t care what you think you’re entitled to. Playoffs ... seriously?

So, you want a playoff proposal, is that it? I’m here to help anyway I can. You can have all the playoff proposals you want. You know, we can keep the meaningless bowl games for the teams left out of an eight- or 16-team playoff, much like the NIT in basketball. People will watch them anyway — because they’re on TV! But first you have to ask me nicely.

You see, I can deal with the bullets, the bombs and blood. I can deal with the hokey corporate sponsor names like the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. I can deal with the unsold tickets sent back, the inadequate Sun Belt Conference refs, and an incoherent Lee Corso on ESPN wearing a Minnesota Gopher mascot head saying, “Not so fast my friends!” I can deal with the the cabin fever over the holidays, the sub-zero Iowa wind chills, and the cravings for jalapeno-cheese deer sausage during commercial breaks.

I don’t want playoff money and huge TV ratings and I don’t want meaningful playoff brackets. What I want is for you to stand there in that sissy third-ranked Florida Gators sweatshirt, and you with your fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks mouth, and extend me some freakin’ courtesy. Sure, you may have been left out from a legitimate shot at a national title because of no playoff system. But you gotta ask me nicely!

Q: Did you order the meaningless bowl lineup schedule?

A: I did my job, I’d do it again.

Q: Did you order the meaningless bowl lineup?

A: You want the truth?

Q: I think I’m entitled. Did you ...?

A: You can’t handle the truth!

Q: I want the truth! Did you order the meaningless bowl lineup!?

A: You’re darn right I did! You happy? You’ll watch them anyway — because they’re on TV!

Playoff advocates: OK, we’ve heard enough. Place the meaningless bowl advocate under arrest. He has rights. You have the right to remain silent. Any statement you do make can be used against you by a college football fan in a court of law.

Meaningless bowl game viewer: I’m being charged with a crime here? This is funny, that’s what this is. You just messed with the wrong meaningless bowl fan! You people. You have no idea how to entertain a nation. All you did was weaken a country’s 35-bowl-game system today!

Matt Brindley is a nighttime editor at the Courier.