Leather Lungs & Fire Batons

January16/ 2000

.. BobLee reports on his Meineke Memories and “the Bowl situation” in general. Saturday in Charlotte was a day well spent.  The game was a doozie.  The weather was quite acceptable for Dec 27 and I reconfirmed a few undeniable truths.

Meineke Memories …

  •  I never buy a bowl ticket from the school allotment.  That is a scam run by every bowl to force the most loyal fans to buy the crappiest seats.  I was on the 40 in the upper deck.  How high was I?  I could look DOWN into Hugh McColl’s old penthouse office at BoA.

• It was a darn fine exciting game.  Bowl games, like All-Star games should be offensive explosions.  This was like a pinball video game in the first half.  Intrepid sideline reporter Lee Pace said “ebullient” on one occasion.  Lee would never say “ebullient” for a regular season game ….. it’s a bowl game word.  Big words and trick plays are a trademark of bowl games.

• This WVU team were BCS Bowl veterans having beaten Oklahoma & Sam Bradford just a year ago.  That UNC came within a point in a “pick’em contest” speaks well for Butch’s Boyz.  Yes, I know ECU whupped’em in G-Vegas in September.  I choose to ignore that fact because …. I can.

• Kudos to both fan bases for wearing their colors and creating a “game frenzy” environment.  As for WVU’s “first down finger-wiggling thingy” …. Every school has its unique silly fan thingy …. and thinks other schools’ thingys are sillier than theirs.   The intellectual coefficient of Aye Zigga Zoomba is debatable.

• I’ve been meaning to mention this all Fall.  The UNC Marching Tar Heels are much much much improved over 5-6 years ago.  Kudos to my former adversary Jeff Fuchs for the appreciated turn-around.  Anyone who knows Jeff, please send him this.

• Butch has UNC well on track to be a consistent Top Twenty program.  If he can squeeze by on $2 million for a year or so, he can quiet his critics.  He IS a mercenary but need not remind us every few months.

• Sitting directly behind me was a certified 4-L fan …. “leather lunged loonie loser”.  He was, alas, “one of ours”.  He cheered vociferously at our big TD plays.  He loudly cussed and berated our coaches/players on any less than stellar plays.  He called T.J. Yates an “idiot” on that series right before the safety.  He called John Shoop more than a “idiot” on numerous plays.  I gather he doesn’t care for our Defensive Coordinator very much. ….. you’ve all encountered this loser’s ilk.  Losers do “breed” however.

He had two young boys with him about 12/13 who bore a slight resemblance.  I glanced back at them during one of his ^%$#@* tirades.  They had the saddest most embarrassed looks and moutheds “we’re sorry”.  Please don’t make your kids apologize for your public behavior.

Cheap Watches and Fire Batons ….

It’s always been “about the $$$$”.  In the beginning it was Southern merchants wanting to draw “snowbirds” and their $$$ to their cities over the Christmas holidays.  Staging elaborate festivals around intersectional college football games seemed a good idea.  Name the events after fruit (Oranges), flowers (Roses) or commodities (Sugar / Cotton) created marketing awareness.

The “Granddaddy of them all” began in Pasadena CA in 1902 “in the shadow of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains”.  When you hear Johnstown PA you think “flood”. When you hear Pasadena CA you think “Rose Bowl”.  Give that civic tub-thumper back in 1902 a big huzza.  It worked.

From four regional games that had legitimate prestige and relevance thru the middle of the 20th century; it got out of control in the 80s.  Football fans woke up one day to 30+ games including the infamous Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl in Shreveport LA.  Every bowl game has a ubiquitous corporate sponsor these days but none will ever top “The Weedeater Bowl” for sheer ridiculousness.   This year’s MagicJack Bowl deserves a place at the “bwaahahaha” table for sure.

Unlike Mount Rushmore which has never been cheapened by umpteen knock-offs, Bowl Games are now more prolific than out-of-wedlock kids in an NBA locker-room.   120 college football teams begin competing for bowl invites each September.  By the first week of December fully 50% of them will have “earned” one of the 60 coveted spots in 30 games thru their excellence and or mediocrity.  Teams that do not “earn” a bowl invite share the shame of the shy kid in high school who did not contract an STD by banging the skanky cheerleader behind the bleachers.

From being among sports most coveted awards akin to a Masters invitation, “bowl invitations” have become little more than Little League participation trophies.   “We played in the 2006 Studebaker / Boll Weevil Classic” is equivalent to being the 4th runner-up in the Miss Apricot Festival.  No wonder most bowl watches never leave their boxes.  And another thing …. Every week the PGA Tour has “a Classic” somewhere.  Whats with that?  Like “most unique”, calling every week’s golf tournament “a Classic” is as bad as calling every freakin’ Judge “The Honorable ____”.

Certain bowl traditions have endured.  (1) The aforementioned cheap watches …..  (2) The team arrival at the local airport met by camera-hogging politicians.  The mayor’s daughter sings The Battle Hymn of The Republic while twirling a fire baton.   Fire batons and bowl games just belong together in a strange symbiosis.  Oh. and …. (3) Rival players participate in some “eating contest” involving the local culinary delicacy.

Other than the top 6-8 games …. and everyone knows which those are …. the remaining 20+ bowls are played before ever-dwindling “crowds” with the TV cameramen under strict orders to NOT do wide shots of the stadium.  The key phrase is “we donated tickets to local youth organizations” which is bowl-ese for “we could not give’em away”.  It should be noted that games played in a participating team’s immediate neighborhood tend to draw very well …. Duh!  As much as I enjoyed my day in Charlotte, I would not have traveled to any other bowl with the possible exception of Atlanta and that would have been to support long time buddy Tilden Martin.

The proliferation of “big screen HDTVs” means more and more aluminum fans at bowl games.  That once-in-a-lifetime Christmas in Boise has never become a “tradition unlike any other” beyond the State of Idaho.

Bowls serve three purposes.  (1) Every coach worth his buy-out clause has his agent insert a “bowl incentive clause” in his contract.  If he reaches that magically 6-6 level of mediocrity and earns an invite to “who cares which one” it means cha-ching to his bank account.  (2) The goggle-eyed Lunatic Fringe at XYZ school gets immediate bloviating rights over their hated rival.  Even if the hated rival earns a bowl bid too, “ours is better” goes without saying but it WILL be said over and over on “the boards”….. (3) One and as many as five players will be “sent home” from the bowl for “violating team rules” which is more bowl-ese for “sneaking one or more skanky gals into their hotel room” and getting caught doing it.  With a Miami ot FlaSt, “five” is a base level for “bowl suspensions”

From the original intent of filling empty Sunbelt hotel rooms, Bowls now simply fill up December TV schedules.  How many James Bond and/or Clint Eastwood Film Festivals can we endure each year?  Give me a choice of Pussy Galore or Weber State vs Florida Atlantic I’ll choose Goldfinger’s Miss Galore EVERY time.

Coaches do love the fifteen extra practice days and 4th string deep-snappers apparently cherish the cheap watches.  Otherwise the whole “bowl thing” passed absurd about a decade ago and hasn’t slowed down. ……  You want common sense?  I’ll give you common sense.

Take the bottom twenty Whozit Bowls and move’em all to Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and Phoenix …. in big domed stadiums.  (Jerry Jones’ new one in DFW has a retractable dome)  Schedule them back-back-back …. Three /day in the same stadium.  Noon, Five & Nine.   Sell “all day” tickets.  See three games on one admission.  All the cities named have plenty of hotel rooms and are easily accessible.  All have local culinary delicacies for the perquisite “eating contests” and plenty of skanky gals to sneak into hotel rooms.  Each team brings its 5-10,000 hardcore traveling fans, the stadiums are sold-out.  Cameramen can scan the stands for hotties without fear of the dreaded aluminum.

Between games. The Kilgore Rangerettes and Up With People can do a stirring tribute to whoever invented the Weedeater.


What in the world is MagicJack?


My addiction to CSI-Miami is an established fact.  Add NCIS to the list.  I’ve been a casual fan of Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team for some time but am now willing to pledge my troth.  The similarities w/ Horatio & his team are obvious.  It’s a formula concept.  So what?  Abby and Ducky are my faves.  Ducky’s early days with U.N.C.L.E prepared him well to be the deliciously eccentric Dr Mallard.  Surely you’ve seen the show.  If you try to escape Law & Order 24/7 you can’t miss it.
As with CSI-Miami, the weekly plots are secondary to the team chemistry and loyalty of the characters with each other.  Imagine an office situation with such camraderie?

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