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Chip-Dipping With College Football’s Biggies

January 12, 2011 Chip-Dipping With College Football’s Biggies

The Hundred Years War <> was a series of battles between England and France from 1337 to 1453, lasting 116 years…………it began when King Edward III of England claimed the throne of France and invaded the northwest of France. Edward’s successor, Richard II, continued fighting, as did Henry IV, who deposed Richard. Henry V took on the war, defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt and became the regent of France……….with Auburn’s bromidic triumph over Oregon (or, as one Duck player called his institution, “The University of Nike”) in the “Tostitos BCS National Championship Game,“ AKA- The Fiesta Bowl…….a seemingly longer event, the college football season, has finally come to an end, right as the NFL Playoffs near their tumultuous conclusion…… evening that began with crusty ESPN analyst Lee Corso wading around shoeless in a rubber pool with toy ducks and ended with the past-prime Brent Musburger telling America, “This one is for all the Tostitos!” now ranks as one of the most cloying evenings in big-time college football history………, I was in Lake Placid on February 22, 1980, when Al Michaels asked Americans “Do you believe in miracles?” as the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team concluded its colossal upset of the Soviet Union, so I have heard the best……, I have heard the worst, but not live. The Scottsdale Snoozer cum late-August/early-September-like tilt drove me away at halftime to my local PBS station, where I enjoyed a ninety-minute documentary on the end of the Civil War and General Ulysses S. Grant……….I  grabbed my remote and punched over to the Worldwide Leader in time for the replay of the game-winning field goal and Brent’s unfortunate punch line……….it’s been quite the season for The Brentster, who worked his way to the front pages earlier this year with his comments about steroids and pro athletes under medical supervision……… “Here’s the truth about steroids: They work,” he said in a story reported by a University of Montana student paper. “I’ve had somebody say that, you know, steroids should be banned because they’re not healthy for you,” he told the students. “Let’s go find out. What do the doctors actually think about anabolic steroids and the use by athletes? Don’t have a preconceived notion that this is right or this is wrong.” Musburger said negative stories about steroids are mainly the fault of “journalism youngsters (who likely munch on Tostitos, too) out there covering sports who got too deeply involved in something they didn’t know too much about.”………… ESPN <,+Media,+Music/ESPN> ‘s BCS “National Championship” game drew 15.3% of U.S. TV households, down 11% from last year’s Alabama-Texas game and the lowest “title” game rating in three years………but the able spinmeisters in Bristol, and good ones they are, quickly reminded us that the game earned cable’s biggest ever audience ever…….true, but no comfort to the millions who don’t have or cannot afford cable packages in their homes……..but this is not to dwell on Musburger’s efforts to stay in tune with the 18-34, hip demographic as he ages, nor linger on the ragged game itself……….I’m just wondering today where this all is going in college football……….ESPN trotted out its NFL Monday Night Football broadcast team for the Virginia Tech-Stanford Orange Bowl game, suffocating viewers with relentless commentary about the draft status of key players, their potential of “playing on Sundays,” and more about the Andrew Luck options as the Stanford QB was facing a decision on returning to school or “coming out” as the NFL draft’s likely #1 choice and untold riches………within a short period of time, I was rewarded and stunned when the young man announced that he was returning to school next year……his dad told the media, “It’s kind of old-school, I know, but he went to college with the idea of not leaving until he got a degree,”…..say what? And this after Troy Calhoun renewed his commitment to the special program at Air Force and shunned the lure of the NFL……..But the status quo returned soon enough, and with a vengeance……..Rich-Rod ousted at Ann Arbor, the five (suspended for next year’s first five games) Ohio State players played…….Jim Harbaugh to the 49ers for $25 million, rejections of Big Blue by Harbaugh and Les Miles (and a new, seven-year extension at LSU for the former CU assistant to boot), what will Cam Newton decide this week? What was Phil Knight’s reaction to the Oregon loss? And a louder than ever level of yammering about the BCS, its validity, and everything else………..TCU coach Gary Patterson, the leader of maybe the best football team in the nation this year, took the high road after his Horned Frogs knocked off Wisconsin in dramatic fashion to finish #2 behind the Tigers and watching the Fiesta Bowl………”Of course, I would have liked a shot to play them,” he said. “You want to play at the highest level. But the rules were we played in the Rose Bowl. It was a great venue and we played a really good Wisconsin team. You always wonder what might have happened, but the teams playing Monday night were deserving.”………of course TCU is off to the Big East Conference after the coming season and the chance to automatically qualify for a BCS slot in the years ahead……..soulmate Utah, also the object of BCS disrespect, is also leaving the Mountain West for the PAC 12 with the Colorado Buffaloes…….despite the clamor, the system is likely to remain unchanged and further erase old-school boundaries between big-time college football and its parent NFL, which gets its players (“student-athletes”) every spring from a well-crafted farm system……….my favorite quote comes from an old friend, BCS chief executive Bill Hancock, as he chatted with reporters about the system…….”At its heart, the BCS is a group of schools collaboratively doing what is in the best interest of their students,” he said in Phoenix before the big game……….. “I want to ask you to remember that college football really is national treasure. We are very lucky to cover it, administer it, play it, coach it and play b-flat clarinet in its marching band.”  Yikes!……..How I daydream for the good old days when we had New Year’s Day and the Bowl biggies, like Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Rose………how we waited anxiously for the final AP and UPI polls to see who was #1………….the 15 bucks a month that the players used to get for laundry and incidentals……….Bud Wilkinson, Chris Schenkel and Keith Jackson………..but we are told we must preserve the bowl system (all 35 of them over 25 days)…….thankfully, it’s almost Happy Hour. And, later tonight, a re-run on Comedy Central of The Onion’s new Sports Dome.

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee for a quarter century, through thirteen Games from Lake Placid to Salt Lake City. The Omaha, Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City’s Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant. Reach him at: <> and read more of his columns at <>

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