Sports Outside the Beltway

Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


Tubby Smith leaves Kentucky for Minnesota

Smith coached the Wildcats to a National Championship in 1998. From AP-

MINNEAPOLIS – With Kentucky fans dogging him after another disappointing finish, Tubby Smith is bolting the bluegrass for Minnesota. Smith will be introduced as the 16th coach of the Golden Gophers at a noon press conference Friday, ending a 10-year tenure in Lexington that seemed to be nearing an end even before Minnesota contacted him.

The Wildcats went 22-12 this season and made it to the NCAA tournament, but lost to top-seeded Kansas in the second round, turning up the heat on the coach of college basketball’s winningest program.

Smith led Kentucky to the national championship in his first season in 1998, but the Wildcats haven’t been back to the Final Four since, their longest drought since the NCAA tournament began. The team has lost 10 or more games in a season five times under his watch, prompting the demanding fan base to nickname him “10-loss Tubby.”

Anyone see Smith’s move as similar to Football coach Bill Curry leaving Alabama for Kentucky?

Kentucky Basketball like Alabama Football puts any coach in a high pressure situation. Smith is probably burned out and in need of a change of scenery. Gopher fans will certainly have lesser expectations than Wildcats fans have.


The Bowl Experience

I have never been to a live bowl game before. Although I always wanted to go, it just never came up and I never had the time or anyone to go with me. Living in the Northeast, it makes it kind of difficult to just up and get in a car and drive to the game and drive back after it’s done.

Well, 47 years later, I finally get my opportunity to attend a bowl game, firsthand. It was the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in beautiful and historic Nashville, Tennessee. If you’ve never been to Nashville, you must make a point of it, whether you like honky tonk music or not. It is truly a delightful place to go and the people are actually very accomodating (touristy places) and it’s a very clean city. Not to mention, that LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans is a 10-minute walk from downtown Nashville.

The University of Kentucky Wilcats played the Clemson University Tigers, in a classic ACC-SEC battle. Both schools got to the game in different ways. Clemson was supposed to vie for the national title, or at least an ACC crown, beating Wake Forest and then losing 3 out of their last 4 games to go 8-4. Kentucky was making it’s first bowl appearance since 1999, and had been on probation the last few years. This team went 7-5 and had an impressive win against Georgia and took Tennessee down to the wire, losing 17-12 at UT. At any rate, it was a great matchup of two potentially powerful offenses and suspect defenses at best.

Clemson was the favorite by 10 points and quite frankly, Kentucky seemed happy to be going to a bowl at all. They had not won one in 24 years and the fans were obviously ecstatic about going to Nashville, a short trip from the Bluegrass state by car. The bowl, which had done well in previous years, was a sellout on the first day and had a record crowd of 68,000 screaming blue and white and orange fans. The place was 60% or more Kentucky fans, but the Clemson faithful were to be recognized.

What’s better than attending college events where the pep band plays in your hotel lobby, a battle of the marching bands in the middle of Nashville’s busy club district and a pre-game breakfast at one of the town’s most historic restaurants? How about a 70 degree sunny day at the end of December? How about a great performance by an underdog Kentucky team? I must admit that my wife is an alum of UK and we did our best to wear as much blue and white as possible, sitting 15 rows from the field on the 30-yard line with the other UK fans.

It was, by far, the most exciting college football I have ever attended live. In fact, it was so memorable, I am hoping that UK makes it back to another bowl next year, no matter where it might be. Maybe Florida, New Orleans or who knows, a national championship? Oh well, wishful thinking, but the moral of the story is —- find out where you favorite team is playing (since there are so many bowls), get your buddies or your best guy or gal and hop on in a car, plane, train or whatever floats your boat and enjoy the many days of festivities. It’ll knock your socks off!


Bob Knight Ties Adolph Rupp

Texas Tech coach Bob Knight has tied Adolph Rupp on the all-time wins list and needs just four more to pass Dean Smith for first place.

Bob Knight Ties Adolph Rupp Texas Tech coach Bob Knight talks to his team during a time out in the second half of their basketball game with Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006. Texas Tech won 66-59.(AP Photo/Chris Graythen) Bob Knight shook hands with the opposing coach, put his head down and walked off the court. Victory No. 876, the one that tied him with legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp for second place on the career list and moved him within three of tying former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for the top spot, didn’t even get a mention from the public address announcer.

Texas Tech’s 66-59 victory at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night wasn’t followed by a ceremony. The thing that made it like so many of the other wins in Knight’s 41-year career was his usual gruff demeanor when he asked to comment on catching the late Rupp.

Knight reflected back on his playing days as a reserve on Ohio State teams that reached three straight Final Fours in the 1960s. “The thing I remember about Adolph Rupp is that one time I scored seven points against the ornery son of a bitch to help beat him,” Knight said, referring to Ohio State’s 87-74 victory over the Wildcats in the 1961 NCAA tournament. “That’s a lot bigger in my memory than this.”

You just have to love Bob Knight. Apparently, ornery SOBs win a lot of basketball games.



Eddie Sutton Retires, Replaced by Son, Sean

Eddie Sutton is retiring from coaching and turning the reins at Oklahoma State over to his son, Sean.

Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton, 70, will announce his retirement this afternoon at a 3 p.m. ET press conference in Stillwater, ESPN has learned.

He will be replaced by his son, Sean Sutton, who has been head coach designate for the past several seasons.

Eddie Sutton coached OSU for 16 seasons. He also coached at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky. He was the first coach to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He has coached in three Final Fours.

Sutton pleaded no contest May 5 to drunken driving charges for a traffic accident in which his SUV swerved, collided with another vehicle and then hit a tree.

Sutton, who underwent treatment for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center in 1987 while he was coach at Kentucky, has said lingering back pain was a factor in his relapse.

“The pain at times literally has been unbearable. … The pain was so bad that I took a lot of pain pills, but that didn’t seem to work, so I succumbed to temptation and went and bought a bottle,” Sutton said in a news conference five days after the accident.

A lousy way to end a legendary career.


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