Scooter Hobbs column: Saved by bowls of junk food
Published 8:12 am Saturday, January 6, 2024
The College Football Playoff will come to a head Monday with Michigan and Washington squaring off for something approximating a national championship game.
It promises to be entertaining football fare.
And that’s all fine and good. Congratulations in advance. Well deserved, Wolverines or Huskies or whomever.
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But the real winners of the college football’s postseason have already been crowned.
Drum roll … but it’s the bowl season itself, back on solid footing.
Yes, yes, you’re all winners! — and not in a participation-trophy sort of way.
But this may well be the season that saved the bowl system, whether all the opt-outs and portal surfers want to play in them or not.
It seems all the self-important blowhards babbling on about “meaningless” games finally met their match.
This may be the year that America’s sporting public realized it can’t live without a minimum of 40-something bowl games, even at the risk of ridicule — and, yes, even those bowls that have no bearing on who wins the national championship.
So there’s a crisper hop in the bowls’ step these days, a newfound confidence after they sent gridiron highbrows slithering off in retreat, probably to a dark, dank culvert somewheres.
They lost. Get over it.
But long live the bowls.
It took some creative thinking, out of the box, so to speak. But it certainly appears that henceforth the bowls and the College Football Playoff should be able to carry on and co-exist, for the betterment and good cheer of all mankind.
It wasn’t easy. It appears there was a lot of trial and considerable error.
Or maybe it was blind luck.
But it was playing out before our very eyes. They were proving, with each passing Myrtle Beach or Camellia Bowl, you can have your playoff, even expanded to 12 teams beginning next season, and still relish the bowls.
The CFP may be the serious business of the holidays, the sporting version of a furrowed brow and a somber almost political presence. And that’s fine. Let them build it up with all due solemnity. The rest can be Fun-Fun Football, with something less than peace on Earth at stake.
That’s what we were watching this bowl season, and it was quite an epiphany.
And, at the end of the day, well, you can thank junk food, mostly.
We learned that, going forward, if you want to call yourself a real bowl game, you better have something to eat to dominate the discussion. Make it the sillier the better, preferably messy and dumpable on the winning coach when the clock strikes zero.
It wasn’t a totally new development, of course. Best I can remember the Famous Idaho Potato (and is there any other kind?) Bowl got things started several years ago. But dumping French fries on a coach is starting to look pretty tame these days.
We all thought the Duke’s Mayo Bowl set the bar impossibly high a couple of years ago with the winning coach’s Mayonnaise Bath, which is as gooey as it sounds, while the bowl has had to fight accusations that the mayo has been cut with oil to lighten the load.
It’s become all the rage.
This bowl season, if the Frosted Flakes weren’t flying at the Tony the Tiger Bowl in El Paso, they were throwing avocados and Cheez-Its in Orlando or dumping coffee grinds in Charlotte.
It was nuts.
All those tax preparers and auto dealers and dot.com sponsorships didn’t have a chance anymore.
LSU played in what — as all of us in my precinct got tired of typing — used to be known as the Outback Bowl. The Tampa Bowl appeared to be basically giving up. A bloomin’ onion seems almost too dignified for this new order of bowling and it’s now the ReliaQuest Bowl, whatever that is (probably venture capitalism of some sort).
They’ll need to rethink things, of course.
There were others. But in the end there was a clear leader when the bowl season sugar and starch and most of the cheese had cleared.
It was back to Orlando (where else?) where the Pop-Tarts Bowl went straight over the top. Nobody could remember who played in the game, and nobody cared, after you got to witness the world’s largest edible mascot, an imposing Pop-Tart which had to be prepared in the world’s largest toaster to remind us what makes this the greatest country in the world.
The two semifinal CFP did their best. Both came down to the final play. But there was no topping that.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org