News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 17, 2008

Amey Takes Aim: ’Tis the season for meaningless college football bowl games

By Andy Amey

TERRE HAUTE — I know you’re probably all wondering what you can get me for Christmas, so I am going to do you a favor. You don’t have to buy me anything this holiday season.

Patriotic American that she is, Jenny has provided our economy with its own stimuli in recent months, with multiple benefits for yours truly.

I now have several channels of hockey — up from none a year ago at this time — with many of them in high-def, which is pretty much the only way to watch that sport, and on a grander scale than I’ve been used to.

I have occasional access to a radio station that is all Grateful Dead, all the time, much of it live concert recordings.

And since holiday sales have rendered drinkable soda back in the Amey family price range, there can’t possibly be anything else of a material nature to improve my lifestyle.

My next mission is to restrain my excitement for another 48 hours or so — depending on what time you are reading this — for the bonanza that is the beginning of the college football bowl season.

Just think, in one glorious day we can watch the EagleBank Bowl, the New Mexico Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl. One of them is such a biggy that it has a corporate sponsor (or has its name been changed to the Taxpayers Bowl by now).

Maybe it’s a sign of my advanced age, but somehow I don’t recall any signature moments from any of those four bowl games. I’m confident that the bowl in Vegas will be a success financially, though, because who would the city rather see coming than the hard-partying fans of Brigham Young.

Are there too many bowls? Of course.

Are there some serious financial flaws that need to be worked out? Well, considering that what might be the best bowl of them all — Tuesday’s night’s Poinsettia Bowl, 10-2 TCU vs. 12-0 Boise State — has a payout of less than $1 million, quite a bit less than the Independence Bowl a few days later between 7-5 Louisiana Tech and 6-6 Northern Illinois, I would have to say so.

Do I want a playoff? Not that much.

To say that a playoff system would be any fairer than what we have right now is a dubious proposition, unless you let the entire FBS qualify. Somebody is going to get left out unfairly no matter what the scenario.

This year, for example, for a playoff to be legitimate somebody would have to beat Boise State and Utah (Ball State was in that list too, until the Cardinals beat themselves); you’d have to have every conference represented, which means Cincinnati and Virginia Tech would still be in it; you couldn’t leave out any of the three we-beat-you-but-lost-to-them Big 12 teams, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma; and you’d probably have both Florida and Alabama and both Ohio State and Penn State involved. Add USC, and you’ve got a 12-team bracket already — this year. Next year will be completely different, with a different number of worthy teams.

So I’m willing to call the Florida-Oklahoma winner the national champion (probably Florida, since Oklahoma has the Heisman Trophy winner this time). If somebody’s been picked on, it’s probably Texas, but I don’t work up much sympathy on a normal basis for the Longhorns and their fans — or for any of the other big-time football powers, for that matter. The advantage for me for not having a playoff is that every team plays just once more in this system, and I’m pretty sick of most of them by now anyway.

If I don’t get to watch TCU and Boise, in fact, my only bowl focus will be in keeping the Big Ten score. Seven bowl games, six of them with Big Ten underdogs, four of those underdogs by 10 points or more … it could be a train wreck, although Michigan did beat Florida a year ago.

Of course the Gators had the Heisman winner that day.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.