Happy New Year! All of us here at Dawg Sports send our best wishes to everyone for a healthy and prosperous 2007.
It has been a very full weekend's worth of football, with regard to which I had a handful of random observations, for whatever they might be worth:
- Yesterday, Joe Paterno won his record-setting 22nd bowl game. In a related item, JoePa was declared the Coca-Cola fan of the game for his performance in the Outback Bowl, and, because the 80-year-old coach was wearing his Penn State blue, he won a year's supply of Bluebell ice cream. Honestly, what possible credit does Coach Paterno deserve for the Nittany Lions' victory? He was up in the booth, he wasn't wearing a headset, and, when the camera panned to him every five minutes, he appeared to be reacting as an observer rather than a participant. At no time did he even seem to be interacting with his assistant coaches. I believe it is now official: Joe Paterno has passed Bobby Bowden as the (figure)head coach most totally irrelevant to his program.
- The E.S.P.N. makeup crew must have taken the weekend off. On Saturday, Doug Flutie's nose looked like Jack Nicholson's after Roman Polanski got done with it in "Chinatown" and Sean Salisbury appeared to have been awakened from a deep sleep and sent directly onto the set in a drunken stupor after crying over the loss of a beloved pet.
- My son, Thomas, got a miniature Georgia football uniform for Christmas, complete with a child-sized helmet. In a moment of three-year-old silliness, Thomas put the chin strap over his mouth in an effort to elicit a mock-incredulous reaction from me, and I obliged, rolling my eyes and declaring, "It's a chin strap, not a mouth strap!" At the moment the words "mouth strap" passed my lips, I realized that I sounded just like Lou Holtz discussing an Agatha Christie play.
- New rule: Virginia Tech no longer will have to play teams from Georgia if teams from Georgia no longer will have to play West Virginia. Deal?
- Nothing drives me battier than a commentator choosing the most inopportune moment to force the square peg of a major bowl game into the round hole of his insipid advocacy of a Division I-A college football tournament. Near the end of the Fiesta Bowl, one of the nimrods in the booth injected an asinine observation about the "clamor" for a playoff. Uh, dude, an up-and-coming mid-major program that has never quite been able to get over the hump was moments away from winning the biggest game in the program's young history over a storied traditional power in a thrilling contest. That is not the moment to be shilling for a system that would have rendered such a game either impossible or meaningless.
- The Gator Bowl went as badly as it possibly could have gone for Chan Gailey. He didn't get the win, but his backup quarterback played well enough to raise more than mildly serious questions why Taylor Bennett hadn't been starting in place of Reggie Ball long before the boneheaded senior quarterback became the first academically-ineligible Georgia Tech signal-caller to be denied the opportunity to start a Gator Bowl in recent memory.
- Thomas isn't the only one who came away with a first-class Christmas haul. Check out Doug's gift tally. For my part, I got "Talladega Nights" on D.V.D. and, for the first time, I saw the scene at the conclusion of the end credits in which Ricky Bobby's mother and his sons discussed the symbolism of William Faulkner's "The Bear." After viewing that scene, I may have to revise my position that "The Dukes of Hazzard" is the greatest movie ever made. Your notions of what makes a fine Christmas gift are the subject of the latest poll question.
- I mentioned before how inconsequential Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno have become to their respective programs' fortunes. Rather than continue serving as the co-Queen Elizabeths of college football, they should retire and co-star in a remake of "Grumpy Old Men," with Bobby in the Jack Lemmon role and JoePa playing the Walter Matthau part.
- First, the scroll read, "Cardinals fire Dennis Green." Then, the scroll read, "Falcons fire Jim Mora." Would anyone have been surprised if the next news item to appear at the bottom of the screen had read, "Cardinals hire Jim Mora" and/or "Falcons hire Dennis Green"?
- The B.C.S. is almost always controversial going into the bowl season, but there is almost never a legitimate dispute coming out of the bowl season. In 2000, 2001, and 2004, Miami, Oregon, and Auburn, respectively, were reduced to arguing, "Florida State/Nebraska/Oklahoma shouldn't have been the team that went and got hammered by Oklahoma/Miami/Southern California; we should have been the team that went and got bludgeoned into submission in the national championship game!" The rest of the time, the would-be contenders take care of themselves. I have all the respect in the world for the Michigan Wolverines and their fans, but, after the Rose Bowl, you can stick a fork into any argument that the Maize and Blue got jobbed out of a trip to Glendale, 'cause it is done.
- For anyone seeking further proof that West Coast fans do, in fact, take their football seriously, I would call your attention to the fact that, after I asked whether Karl Dorrell was the West Coast Ray Goff, I almost immediately received replies from What's Bruin, Dawg? and Bruins Nation.
- In addition to her other virtues as a sideline reporter, Bonnie Bernstein is a helpful indicator of the climatic conditions at the game she is covering. Not only will she don a horrible hat to combat the cold, but, if Bonnie is sans headgear, her hair is an unerring guide to how much humidity is in the air.
- When the Yellow Jackets were 9-2, many skeptics doubted Chan Gailey's ability to keep his string of consecutive five-loss seasons alive. Those naysayers should be ashamed of themselves and they owe Coach Gailey an apology.
- You know what would be even better than Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno co-starring in a remake of "Grumpy Old Men"? The Manning family starring in a production of "The Lion in Winter," with Archie as King Henry II, Cooper as Geoffrey, Peyton as Richard Lionheart, and Eli as John. Picture Peyton, in Act I, Scene 2, saying, "You hardly know me, Eli, so I beg you to believe my reputation: I'm a constant quarterback and a sometime pitchman and I will be king." That's good stuff right there.
- Need yet another reason for opposing a playoff? Here's a good one: goony-bird nut-burger left-wing crackpot Ralph Nader is for one. I told you a college football playoff was just plain communist!
- Finally, I believe I saw on "SportsCenter" that, after scoring the Fiesta Bowl-winning two-point conversion on a brilliant play call that used Bob Stoops's scrupulous attention to detail against him, Ian Johnson proposed to his girlfriend on the sideline. I have to give credit to the Boise State running back . . . popping the question after clinching a victory in a B.C.S. bowl game probably outshone even my marriage proposal to my wife, which I prefaced with a karaoke rendition of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love." To those Dawg Sports readers who are married despite the colossal amounts of time they waste on the internet reading weblogs, I put this inquiry: "How did you propose to your spouse?/How did your spouse propose to you?" Your answers go in the comments below.