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Randy Hollis: Randy Hollis: Number of bowls increase, interest wanes

Published: Saturday, Dec. 18 2010 11:01 p.m. MST

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UTEP vs. BYU boxscore

Three down, thirty-two to go. So many bowl games, so little time.

And, unless you're a football junkie, so little interest in so many of them.

BYU's rousing victory over UTEP on Saturday kicked off the 2010 college football bowl season — a total of 35 postseason matchups which, once upon a time, were the reward for having a successful season.

And nowadays? Well, not so much. After all, one-fifth (14) of the 70 teams involved in this year's bowl games, including the Cougars, came into postseason play with 6-6 records.

I'm not sure what Webster's dictionary would offer us as a definition of "mediocre," but I'm guessing that from a team sports perspective, a .500 record probably qualifies as "mediocre."

Citrus bowls. (Michele Beschen) Citrus bowls. (Michele Beschen)

That means half of those .500 teams, or 10 percent of all the schools that went bowling this year, will wind up with sub-.500 (Webster would refer to this as "losing") records of 6-7.

Of course, schools such as BYU that finished their regular seasons strongly have a reason to want to keep playing. After a shaky start, the Cougars came on strong the last half of the season and capped their campaign Saturday by blasting the Miners in the New Mexico Bowl — which, in its short existence, has somehow managed to hang onto the same name.

College coaches love bowl games, because it gives them an additional 3-5 weeks to work with their players as somewhat of a winterized version of spring practice — another great college football tradition that only a coach could love.

And long-suffering schools such as Utah State, which hasn't been bowling for almost two decades, would likely be delighted to play in any bowl game, any time, anywhere.

I was talking with our longtime D-News Jazz/NBA writer, Tim Buckley, a couple of days ago, and we were reminiscing about those good old days when you could actually count the number of bowl games on both hands (along with a toe or two).

Back in the day, none of the bowl games were played after New Year's Day, and Corporate America hadn't come along to take over and turn the Tangerine Bowl into the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl or the Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl.

We'd never heard of — and I'm not making any of these up — the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl or the Roady's Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl or the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl or the ...

Well, you get the picture.

Thirty years ago, only the top two-dozen or so teams in the country went bowling. The bowl games had nice, short names like Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta, Gator, Peach, Tangerine, Sun, Liberty, Bluebonnet, Independence and Holiday.

Then, in the mid-'80s and 1990s, we started adding a lot more games and a lot more corporate names, and the bowl games began sounding more like somebody was reading the business directory of the Yellow Pages. Most of them have changed corporate sponsors numerous times over the past 10-20 years or so, making it tough to remember which game is being played when and where.

Many more of them came and went, some lasting only a year or two, others fading away after decades of existence.

But this much we do know: When Utah battles Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (formerly the EA Sports/Sega Sports/Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl), we'll still have 30 more of these suckers left. And at least a half-dozen of them should really be interesting.

So pass the chip dip ... and go Utes!

e-mail: rhollis@desnews.com

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