Amazing what college football bowl season has become
December 20, 2016 3:00 AM
by Scott Schettler
Who would have thought the bowl menu could not create the excitement of any given weekend of NCAA conference games. Or for that matter, some season-opening non-conference matchups generate more energy in the sportsbooks than the ridiculous 40 bowl games we’re now treated to.
It began with eight, ten then 12 bowl matchups that really presented the very best teams. It was exciting. The Rose, Orange, Cotton, Gator, Sugar, Peach, Fiesta were mostly dream matchups. Also the Sun, Tangerine and Holiday Bowls were legitimate. No 5-7 or 6-6 team could get within booing distance of a Bowl.
They can now because 80 teams are needed to fill imposters like the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (payout $155K) or the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (payout $200K).
Bowls in the planning stages include the Melbourne, Dubai, Ireland and Toronto Bowls among others. Leave your booze and girlfriends home for the Dubai Bowl. Reminds me of the 2007 BYU/UCLA Las Vegas Bowl where I joked with the beer stand guy who was shunned by the BYU crowd.
A clear National Champion was usually the correct call back then. Except in 1969/70 when Penn State finished back-to-back 11-0 seasons and President Richard Nixon named Texas, also 11-0, the National Champion. Probably should have been co-champs.
The most thrilling Bowl Game in NCAA history? Easy call: The 1980 BYU/SMU Holiday Bowl in old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
BYU had never won a bowl game in their history and it looked like another Bowl loss. They couldn't handle SMU. With just four minutes left in the game, SMU had a 45-25 lead. BYU fans started leaving the stadium and that enraged BYU QB Jim McMahon who promptly threw a touchdown pass. BYU recovered an onside kick and quickly drove down the field, ending the drive with a one yard TD run. SMU's lead is now just six, 45-39.
BYU forced a Mustangs punt on their next possession. The Cougars blocked the punt and took over on the 41 yard line with seconds left.
McMahon threw two incompletions then launched a Hail Mary (sorry BYU) into the end zone as time expired. Smothered by four defensive backs, Cougar tight end Clay Brown leapt above them all and fell to the ground with the ball and a TD.
With the score tied at 45 they convert the extra point and win 46-45. BYU scored 21 points in the last 2:33.
Most bettors who had BYU threw their tickets away or ripped them up. We had a record number of lost ticket claims to honor. I was running The Cal-Neva in Reno at the time.
Jim McMahon was a maverick refusing to take his head rag off on the bench or give up his Harley. He drove the good folks of BYU crazy. When asked later, while with the Chicago Bears, what his best day was at BYU he responded, “The day I left.”
Take care, and check out my new web site – www.wiseguys.com – exclusive to GamingToday.