Okay, I’ll preface by saying this one’s a little odd, since it deals with football and I’m hardly a knowledgeable football fan. Nevertheless I figure it will be short and probably interesting since this is from the perspective of the opposite of the football fan.
Anywho, as far back as 1985 (I think), my Dad took us all to football games. Specifically Texas A&M football games. Suffice it to say that early introductions to the A&M campus more or less constituted the neccessary brainwashing to convince me and my sister to go to A&M. I remember being particularly impressed at eight years old to see that even the scoreboard of Kyle Field was a large building.
A&M went to the Cotton Bowl three years in a row, from 1986 to 1988, and we went to it one year, 1987 (the one out of the three where A&M lost). At this point in time, the Cotton Bowl was seen (if I recall correctly) as the Super Bowl of college football (in the south anyway). Somewhere along the line, the Cotton Bowl, as a bowl game (it’s also the name of the stadium in Dallas where it’s held) kinda went downhill. I don’t recall exactly when but it might have coincided with the neighboorhood the Cotton Bowl was in turning into a ghetto (or perhaps it was always that way).
In any event, at some point in time another thing happened – bowl games started getting sponsors. Like I said earlier this is all from memory, but suddenly one year it was no longer the “Cotton Bowl” it was the “Mobil Cotton Bowl”. Mobil has since sold the Cotton Bowl to Southwestern Bell, so it’s the “SBC Cotton Bowl Classic” (though I’m not sure when the “Classic” showed up). The “Sugar Bowl” is now the “Nokia Sugar Bowl”, and in 1998 A&M went to that while I was in the Aggie Band. Amusingly, the scoreboards in the stadium had some permanent ads for a different cell phone company, which were covered up during the game (we saw the original ads during a rehearsal).
Now I’m not some prude that thinks advertising is an evil thing, but it has given way to some embarassing gaffes in the past. The best one I can remember is the “IBM OS/2 Fiesta Bowl”, which showed commercials for OS/2 during the breaks. I just wonder what they were thinking – that the armchair quarterbacks of the world would change to something called OS/2 because they sponsored a bowl game? I mean, “IBM OS/2 Fiesta Bowl” just doesn’t roll off the tongue.
Now changing gears for a second, Texas A&M is simply put not doing so well in football this year. Apparently A&M had never lost at Kyle Field versus a conference team since they switched conferences to the Big 12 a few years back. They’ve lost four times at Kyle this year. And despite being the “Winningest Coach in A&M History”, fans are now calling for the head of R.C. Slocum on a stick. He’s like the Mariah Carey of football at this point. Popular consensus is that he’ll still have a job next year but short of a miraculous comeback that will be it for him. A&M got a new President this year and he apparently has a goal for A&M to become National Champions in three years. I wonder why no one thinks it might be the players’ fault that the team sucks. Apparently since A&M isn’t the “named school” for Texas (the University of Texas is), the best players don’t seek them out first.
But this past weekend A&M won a game at Kyle Field versus Oklahoma State. This wouldn’t be too significant, save for the fact that it helps Slocum hang on to his job a little longer, and the fact that Oklahoma State was the #1 ranked team in the country and A&M’s never beat a #1 team before. Now Oklahoma State can’t be the National Champions and A&M might go to a bowl game.
Dad explained it once to me how they determine the “National Champion” and now I don’t remember, but you basically have to be either #1 or be #2 at the end of the year and beat #1 or something like that. In any event, A&M hasn’t done it since 1939, and that was the only time they did.
But tying this back into the bowl theme, it used to be that there were only a few bowl games, and you only got to go to one if you were good that year. Now it’s like belts in wrestling – there’s a ton and now it seems as if the bad teams just go to the crap bowls. So since A&M wasn’t even in bowl running says something about how bad it was doing. Last year A&M wasn’t doing so bad but they went to a pretty bad bowl – the DiscountFurniture.com Bowl. Suffice it to say, it was embarrassing simply because of the name of the bowl. I don’t know if DiscountFurniture.com took over an existing bowl and ditched the name or if DiscountFurniture.com just didn’t bother with a “real” name, but it might as well have been a porn company sponsoring the bowl. In their defense, Discount Furniture is actually a chain of very big time furniture stores and not some fly by night dot-bomb.
But in any event, Saturday’s victory probably bought Slocum one more year of employment (at least).
Still, if A&M does go to a bowl game this year, let’s hope it’s not the FreeOnion-Loaf.org bowl in Minute Maid Park or some crap like that.