Today's college football bowl slate too much


WALLA WALLA - When I first started paying attention to college football back in the 1960s, there were five major bowl games and a couple of others that filled out the New Year's Day television schedule.

The Rose, Orange, Sugar, Sun and Cotton bowls were, of course, the big ones. And they were all played in warm-weather climates.

Growing up in Big Ten country, the Rose Bowl was always the crown jewel because it annually matched the champions from the Big Ten and the Pacific 8 Conference. And it very often determined who finished first in the final national rankings.

I can clearly remember being huddled around our oil stove - snow piled several feet high and the temperature stuck near zero right outside the frost-painted window - as I watched in envy shirtsleeved fans as they reveled in the Southern California sunshine.

The Rose Bowl, most everyone knows, is the oldest of the bowl games. The first was played in 1902 and Michigan defeated Stanford 49-0.

The Orange, Sugar and Sun bowls didn't make their debuts until 1935, followed by the Cotton Bowl in 1937.

The Gator Bowl, in 1946, and the Citrus Bowl, 1947, are the only other bowl games introduced in the first half of the 20th century that are still being played to this day. The Citrus Bowl is now known as the Capital One Bowl.

There were many other attempts to establish bowl games during those early years, but none survived. The most successful of those were the Bluebonnet Bowl, which was played from 1959 through 1987, and the Camellia Bowl, which ran from 1961 to 1980.

Then, in 1968, the first Chick-fil-A Bowl was played in Atlanta, followed in 1971 by the inaugural Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. They're both still played today, and the Fiesta Bowl has evolved into one of the new big-five games, the other being the BCS Championship game that debuted in 1998.

For the record, the Cotton Bowl and Sun Bowl were demoted to secondary status.

But it was in the 1970s when the floodgates began to open. The Independence Bowl joined the ranks in 1976 and the Holiday Bowl followed two years later. The 1980s saw two more postseason bowl games emerge - the Outback Bowl (1986) and the Insight Bowl (1989) - with no fewer than seven more established in the 1990s.

Since then, 15 additional games have been added to the college bowl schedule, boosting this year's total to 35. That includes the Ticket City Bowl in Dallas and the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, which will debut this year.

This glut of games begins Dec. 18 when the University of Texas-El Paso meets Brigham Young University in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque and concludes Jan. 10 when Oregon and Auburn square off to decide the national title in the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.

But if that doesn't satisfy your college football appetite, not to worry. There's the East-West Shrine Classic on Jan. 22 and the Senior Bowl on Jan. 29 to round out the postseason schedule.

But if you are anything like me, enough is enough and too much is plenty.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the way it was when Washington beat Minnesota 17-7 in the 1961 Rose Bowl and then the Gophers returned to Pasadena and defeated UCLA 21-3 in 1962.

Sans the snow and cold weather, of course.


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