This time the television commentators got it right. The Utah-Navy game in the Poinsettia Bowl "set the bar awfully high for the rest of bowl week."
Utah won, tying Boston College's record of seven consecutive wins in bowl games. And the game the first of the bowl season was a nice gift not only for University of Utah fans but for college football fans who have grown weary and wary of the hype and conflicts-of-interest in the BCS. One expects the UCLA-BYU Las Vegas Bowl also will be filled with the same excitement and gritty performances.
Years ago, many true-blue (or true-red) college fans decided they'd rather watch university teams play than the pros. A certain arrogance and self-absorption has contaminated the pro game. Sadly, much of those same attitudes have crept into the BCS bowl games. Big money and big media have skewered things to the point where fans are disgusted. And when sports fans are disgusted they do what any consumer would do: They look elsewhere.
And this year, a good place to look is the "lesser bowls." Many have more to offer than the big venues. Even within the BCS ranks fans can decide if they want to watch two teams play for the national title who got soundly thumped by unranked teams during the season, or watch undefeated Hawaii take on Georgia in the Sugar Bowl for what some call the "true national championship."
In other games, last year's Cinderella, Boise State, plays East Carolina on Dec. 23 in the Hawaii Bowl; over-achieving Central Florida goes against Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29; and Urban Meyer's Gators run up against the bedeviled Michigan Wolverines on New Year's Day in the Capitol One Bowl.
Fans who have had it with the BCS can find plenty of action to console themselves.
Eventually, the BCS will change. The way it is now is no way to run a business. And college football, more than ever, is a business these days. Until then, however, hard-core "gridders" can find plenty to cheer about in games where the BCS has not extended its ugly tentacles.