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Bowl Week 2006

And now it’s Bowl Week. Christmas is over, as are all of those nondescript bowls placed before the holiday in order to flesh out programming on the Deuce. It is now time to get down to the brass tacks of bowling.

There were all of those so-called ‘lower-tier’ bowls. They are called that for a reason. Given a choice between watching a couple of directionals slug it out or watching again the Bond movies some otherwise-obscure cable channel trots out every holiday, I will go with 007 every time. The only real drama to be had was how many ECU fans would get arrested for rowdy behavior at the Pizza Bowl. It seems they hit the over/under on the button.

Of course, it could be said that all of the other bowls save one are meaningless. Only the generically-named ‘BCS Championship’ game has any bearing on the overall scheme of things [why isn’t this the Corn Chip BCS Championship?]. The major difference is that the upcoming games are played between recognizable teams from recognizable leagues and most do have a bit of history and tradition behind them [well, there is the one played in Toronto , certainly an exciting vacation destination in early January].

The other difference is that my team is playing in one of the upcoming games. That would be the Chicken Bowl in Atlanta . It is also the one I will be attending later in the week, which tends to pique my interest. We will be leaving early Friday morning and hopefully the Russian who is traveling with us will keep the griping about what he perceives to be an insufficient rate of speed along I-85 to a minimum. Arriving safely is of a much bigger concern than whether we are going slower than he used to traverse the Siberian tundra in a dog sled.

In between now and the trip south, I will be paying a little attention to the bowls played, since a chunk of them will number among the competitors the eight ACC teams that qualified for bowls and were thus invited.

The first will be the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco . Florida State finds itself in that one due to that crackerjack 6-6 record. Bobby Bowden pronounced himself pleased with the destination, claiming that he was tired of playing all of those decades of bowl games close to home. Most of his fans seem to feel otherwise.

Thursday will present us with the Independence Bowl, one that still holds a soft spot among quite a few Tech fans. It was where this current run started. Alabama will be playing in this one. I’m sure Tide AD Mal Moore will come out of hiding long enough to tell ESPN that the coaching search is proceeding with all due deliberation and they will get the guy they ‘really’ want most any month now, hopefully by the time the 07 season kicks off. Perhaps on the field Moore will have a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Nick Saban.

ESPN passed on the Texas Bowl, as will undoubtedly virtually all potential viewers, even those that do get the NFL Network. When you have to move heaven and New Jersey landfills and toxic waste dumps in order to have a bowl game televised in your home state, it certainly provides a strong testimony to the attractiveness of Li’l E bowls. There are losses to the Cousins, then there are losses to the Cousins that really sting.

As we travel Friday, hopefully ESPN radio will be within earshot somewhere along the SC/GA border in order for us to hear the Music City Bowl, another of which I have fond memories from the time Tech participated.

This year’s game has Clemson playing Kentucky, a contest between one of the ACC’s ultimate football school against for decades the SEC’s sole claim to basketball glory. They are playing football, meaning you have to like the Tigers. Maybe Oliver Purnell will tangle with Tubby in the NCAA’s to balance things out.

Maryland will play Purdue Friday night in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando . I have a sneaking suspicion that about all I will see of this one is snatches that might be available on televisions in Atlanta bars. Just a hunch.

Saturday the bowl games kick off with the Muffler Bowl in Charlotte . There will likely be more people watching this one via the satellite perched on top of the Clubhouse than will be in BoA Stadium. The odds seem pretty good that Coach For The Day Frank Spaziani will not accompany Fredo back to Boston but instead head straight for Raleigh .

For some unknown reason, the Blue Bowl in Boise is being played at night. Snicker. Enjoy, Canes.

The Main Event, at least as far as I am concerned, will take place Saturday night in the Georgia Dome. Considering how many hotel rooms Orbitz tells me are still available within very close proximity to Dolphins Stadium, the Chicken Bowl will be the only one played by an ACC team to a full house. Tech sold every ticket it could get its hands on, meaning there should be about 25k Hokies in attendance. We won’t be completely swallowed up by all of the Dawgs attending their home bowl game.

Frank Beamer will be trying for the sixth time to win a second straight bowl game, something that he has never done in compiling a less-than-stellar 6-7 bowl record. Well, the previous five losses were to guys named Tennessee , Nebraska , Florida State [twice] and California . With the exception of Cal [how did that happen, anyway?], Frank hasn’t exactly been losing to Temple .

Frank has approached game preparation this time around with a very casual attitude. The chances are slim that any Tech players will suffer from fatigue when they hit the floor of the Georgia Dome. This is in direct contrast to Georgia , where Mark Richt, who suffered the ignominy last year of actually losing to the Cousins in a bowl game [the numbers of coaches with that black mark on their resume are few]. Richt has responded to that embarrassment by increasing the scale and intensity of this year’s practices. We shall see what method turns out to have been the best for this game. Or, we won’t, as what is likely to be a close defensive struggle could turn on some blunder such as a turnover or special teams snafu.

In any event, this week the bowl games have gotten a lot more interesting. Hopefully there won’t be too many people watching them all on television who will be constantly reminded during ESPN commercials that they ran up, before Christmas, serious amounts of credit card debt. The week after Christmas, a time when many swear off credit cards, does seem an odd time to present something called Capital One Bowl Week.

The Clubhouse Tailgate will be celebrating the bowl extravaganza in Atlanta at the Chicken Bowl. Hopefully, most who have expressed interest will be able to join us and relieve the pressure on Larry and Clota by bringing me something to eat. See you at the Marshaling Yard.

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