Back in August I made an early New Year’s Resolution to ignore football and baseball. Being from Texas and a Rangers’ fan ignoring baseball wasn’t so hard but being from Texas and ignoring football can get you booked for the state hospital. I have largely succeeded and freed up a lot of newspaper time for basketball and a sudden interest in soccer. But sometimes an event happens that transcends personal prejudices and last night’s bowl game between Boise State and Oklahoma was one of those times. No one needed to understand the history, rules, or context of that game to fully appreciate it. It was as simple as all good stories dating back to the original David versus Goliath story. Here are a few of my thoughts from the game:
All Hail BCS: If it was not for the BCS, despite all of its silliness and criticism, this game would have never happened. So last year the BCS gave us a winner of a Championship Game and this year’s bowl game to remember. Not bad.
An early March Madness: The joy of every March is watching a number 1-3 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament fall to a Wichita State or a George Mason. College bowl games never give us those warm and fuzzy underdog moments. Finally, we got our March Madness moment in a bowl game. I will not belittle the quality of Boise State but the reality is that the Boise State’s of the world do not beat Oklahoma on New Year’s Day.
Ridiculous to Reality: One of these days I plan to write a series of books based on ridiculous statements I have heard at sporting events, concerts, church services, etc. The premise is that no lack of experience or information will stop people from spouting their opinion or asking a ludicrous question. (Kind of like this blog). In light of this, I guarantee you that their were thousands of people in the stands and at home telling their TV screens or whoever was eavesdropping that the “Statue of Liberty” play would work for that two point conversion. Lo and behold, someone actually ran the play. I don’t think I have ever seen that play in a college game much less in the biggest play in Boise State football history. Boise State just became America’s team because they used that play, the same one that millions have suggested to no avail over the years.
America’s Team: The beauty of the Boise State win was through their liberal use of trick plays. 98% of college programs would have run a fade pattern or a run up the middle for the two point conversion. Few teams have the guts to gamble their coaching career, their booster money, and their legacy on a trick play. Great job Coach Peterson (I don’t even know his first name).
Short list of available coaches: Every year, college or pro, Bob Stoops gets mentioned for job openings, especially at high profile jobs. His assistant coaches have taken head jobs at Texas Tech and Kansas. But, from top to bottom, the Oklahoma staff was out-coached by the Boise State staff.
Five Star Recruits: The announcers (see below) kept talking about the Five Star recruits of Oklahoma versus the cast offs of Boise State. Oklahoma, probably more than any other team in the nation, recruits for speed at virtually every position. The profile of an OU player is fairly consistent – good size and speed. When you treat players like pieces of meat or race horses you may get left with players who are deficient in other areas of football ability. Though possessing fine athletes themselves, Boise may have an advantage in recruiting talented football players rather than track stars and sometimes that can make a difference.
Fox: Everything Fox does is over the top. That is a given. But one thing that Fox does that I appreciate is their obsession with showing crowd reaction. If we were watching last night’s game on ABC we would see the same five fans on each side the entire game. Fox consistently finds the best anguished, shocked, and elated faces. The rollercoaster of emotions showed in last night’s game was exhausting but essential to the larger story.
Three’s A Nightmare: Ever since Howard Cosell donned his yellow Wild World of Sports jacket, TV sports executives have been trying to recreate 1975 by using three announcers in the booth. It does not work. The list of the best three man announcing teams starts with Cosell, Meredith, and Gifford and ends with Marv Albert, Steve Jones, and Bill Walton with only Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and Al Leiter in between. Last night, Tom Brennaman, Barry Alvarez , and some guy named Charles Davis teamed up for the broadcast and it stunk. Brennaman tries too hard to make bold, definitive statements and Charles Davis was talking incessantly and performed the ultimate sports clichÃ© by apologizing for using a sports clichÃ©. Coach Alvarez had some insightful things to say, especially about the coaching decisions in the last five minutes of the game but he had to blurt them our or repeat them in order for it to be considered in between Davis’ chuckling rah-rah. Fox, dump Davis and give us more coach.
The Prestige: If you are going to have sideline reporters make him or her have some legitimacy. It seems that ESPN and CBS pick five new pretty faces each year to stick in front of their cameras. Is this a reality series we are missing on Bravo? I mean I hate Jim Grey but at least when he is making up crap I pay attention. Much kudos to Fox for using the veteran Chris Myers instead of the Maxim Girl of the Month.
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