Welcome, sports fans, to my annual NCAA college football rant. With the exception of the Army/Navy game, the college football season is over and the postseason is only two weeks away. On Saturday, December 17, the college bowl season will kick off with the New Mexico Lobos and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners facing each other and the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. After that will come the Hawai’i Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl, the Raycom, AutoNation Cure, the Poinsettia and the Famous Potato Bowl’s, among others. I call these the “Pepperoni Bowls,” for no good reason other than to poke a little fun at their averageness. But don’t let that lead you to believe that I look down on those bowls. In fact, quite to the contrary, I love those bowls. In fact, I love them much better than the Snob Bowls that will be played later in the season.
There are many equally good reasons for my affection for those bowls, but the primus inter pares is that I love the kids who are playing in them. With the exception of a few of the Power Five teams who have fallen upon hard times, you will see teams from North Carolina Central, Grambling, Appalachian State, Toledo, San Diego State, Houston, Univ. of Central Florida and Arkansas State, among a host of others, lining up on the field for what is one of the biggest days in their athletic lives. These kids will play their guts out on that field, and for that I salute them. This is what they signed up for. The kid from Arkansas State knew that he would never play for a national championship, but he put his heart on the line every single day during the season in order to be chosen to represent the Sun Belt Conference. And when Arkansas State lost to FCS opponent Central Arkansas and started out 0-4, their season looked like it was over, and over badly. Instead, they rallied, put away one challenger after another and fought their way into their Pepperoni Bowl. Do you think that those kids are one iota less pumped than someone from Alabama who has been a stud all his life, who’s path to the NFL is already in sight, and who’s academic performance is, well, not part of the conversation?
I have already heard the snot-nosed talking heads chattering about how we should do away with the Pepperoni Bowls and go to a 16 team playoff scheme for college football. I really wonder why they are saying that. It isn’t like any of those sycophants are going to be sitting in the stands while the Pepperoni Bowls are being played. They will be in New York, or Los Angeles, or licking boots on some sideline in Columbus, Seattle, Tuscaloosa, or wherever the hell Clemson is. Those worthy members of the chattering class won’t be in the stands watching the Pepperoni Bowls, and those stands will probably not be filled with fans either.
What will be in those stands however will be scouts from the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and a lot of other NFL teams that truly suck and are looking for bargains to be found and drafted in the late rounds. You know, the Dak Prescotts and people like that who come up to the bigs out of the Pepperoni Outlands and make a monumental impact on NFL teams’ performance? A few scouts for the Seattles and New Englands and Dallas’ and Detroits will be there too. How do you think that they stay on the top?
So that’s it. A short speech for me, as it turns out. I am as excited as I can be to be entering this wonderful time of the year. Talented, motivated, gut-busting athletes will take this opportunity to show off their skills. Fans may not fill the stands, but they will fill chairs in front rooms, sports bars and man caves, and they will watch and cheer for these blue collar kids who are saying “I can do this too.” This, to me, is when it really counts, and I cannot say enough or be prouder of these kids who answer the puerile blathering of the talking heads by pouring their blood, sweat and hearts out onto the fields of the Pepperoni Bowls. I’ll watch them over the Chosen Ones any day of the week.