Man requires food, water, shelter, love and, once a year, 13 straight hours in front of an array of radiation-emitting television sets, watching every New Year's Day bowl game. Preferably with a bag of fried pork rinds.
Four minutes late for the first game. Not a good start. Perhaps inviting the valet parking attendant inside for one last Singapore Sling last night was not such a good idea. Still, at my home in Denver, I am well prepared: I've got four TVs and more junk food than Home Alone, and, best of all, I talked the local Sharper Image store into lending me one of their $2,000 vibrating, massaging, stereo-equipped reclining leather chairs for the day.
"Who would actually buy a $2,000 vibrating, massaging, stereo-equipped reclining leather chair, anyway?" I asked the store's assistant manager, Steve.
"Dan Issel, for one," Steve said. "Charles Barkley. Actually, we sell a lot of these. I bet we sell 30 or 35 a year."
They are wonderful. Excpt tjey mske you wrte loke thi$.
O.K., I'm ready. The first game is the Hall of Fame Bowl from Tampa: Tennessee versus Boston College. Unfortunately the game is not even 10 minutes old and already the hype is hurting my ears. ESPN color man Joe Theismann is making the Vols' quarterback sound like the second coming of Johnny U. "Write this name down," Theismann says. "Heath Shuler. Put it in a drawer somewhere and save it. Because I've seen a lot of quarterbacks in my time...." Me, too. And Heath Shuler is very definitely one of them.
In one hour I've watched 40 commercials. I estimate I will watch more than 1,000 before the day is over. Still, I hope I only have to hear once about Dristan Juice Mix-in. Sounds lovely, no? On today's brunch menu, we will be featuring eggs Benedict, salmon croquettes and Dristan Juice Mix-in. Enjoy!
Now is when it gets zooish. The Hall of Fame Bowl is still going on, and the Cotton Bowl starts in five minutes, followed by the start of the Citrus and Blockbuster bowls both within the next half hour. Not that it matters. Of the eight games today, seven have all the history and importance of Moose Lodge meetings. Only tonight's Sugar Bowl between No. 1 Miami and No. 2 Alabama means a thing.
Logic has never been within a par 5 of college football. Schools play great football until the end of November, and then, when their players are at a peak, they take December off. Then they come back, and in one colossal, gluttonous bacchanalia, they play eight games in one blotto day. The system is so stupid and confusing that it is usually left for 138-pound sportswriters to decide who is national champion.
I would rather date Beano Cook than watch any more of the Hall of Fame Bowl. Boston College is getting the last sacrament from Tennessee at this point, 31-7. Luckily there is always ESPN's sideline reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch, an actual doctor, who, when giving the details of a sideline injury, sounds like a correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine. After describing one player's injury by rattling off befuddling medical terminology, he threw it back to the booth. Said Theismann, "Does that mean there's something wrong with his wrist?"