Bowled Over

The Run For The Roses: So Close...

By Tom Danehy

WHO WANTS TO go to the stupid Rose Bowl, anyway? Just 'cause it has this $12 million payout, and a huge national New Year's Day television audience, and that ridiculous nickname of "The Grandaddy of Them All." That doesn't mean it's that big a deal.

Tucsonans are much more comfortable in San Diego, where they know everybody. This way, Tucsonans can go over and renew acquaintances with people they haven't seen since...oh, August, when school started.

Danehy Plus, Wednesday is the absolute coolest day of the week to play in a bowl game. That way, you can blow off the whole week of work. Bosses won't mind; no business gets done that week, anyway.

Take Monday off to travel; Tuesday, chill in San Diego (at the same hotel on Mission Bay where you spent the entire month of July); Wednesday, go to the game; Thursday, party like it's going to be 1999; then Friday, sleep in, watching sorry-ass UCLA play horrible Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Then, after all the California drunks are sobered up, drive back home on Saturday or Sunday to get ready to go back to work on Monday, when you'll leave early to get home to watch the (yuk, yuk) "national championship game" between the ridiculously lucky Florida State and the really average Tennessee.

Okay, enough of trying to put a positive spin on things. This college football situation reeks! The UA had the best season ever and it's like most Tucsonans blinked and missed it. The season snuck up on us and was over before we knew it.

Part of it had to do with the ridiculous TV coverage the Cats were given. They start off with a Thursday night game in Hawaii. That's okay, because Hawaii is awful, so it showcases the Cats on a night when there's nothing else on except some tail-end reruns of Must-See TV that you saw the first time or (ugh!) baseball.

But then they come right back a couple weeks later with another Thursday night game against another WAC opponent. Once is fine, twice is suspect.

After that, things get really weird. The UA-Washington game, which ended with Ortege Jenkins' guaranteed-lock College Football Play of the Year, is on at 10 o'clock at night on some cable channel. What did ABC run in its feature game that afternoon? No one remembers, but I'll bet one of the L.A. schools was involved.

The next week, in what was the Pac-10 feature game of the entire season, the Cats are again on cable at night, because that afternoon ABC chose to televise Arizona State bending over for a very mediocre Notre Dame team.

A couple weeks later, in another of the three biggest games of the year in the Pac-10 (Oregon-UCLA completing the trio), the Cats are forced to play Oregon at the bewildering hour of 4:30 on Halloween Night. The stadium is half-full, the ratings blow, and a whole lot of people miss out on seeing Cats administer the old razor-blade-in-the-apple trick to the Ducks, send them staggering back to Oregon.

Throw in a couple tape-delay jobs where you have to avoid the score all night and stay up watching the game until 1 a.m., missing Hank Lominac in the process, and you see how badly Arizona was treated by the TV guys. In fact, the only decent TV time all year for the Cats was in the last game of the year, the post-Thanksgiving matchup with ASU, and even that was on cable.

Is this any way to treat the sixth-ranked, 11-1 team?

So now all that is left is for Arizona to play Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Some fans are hyped, but playing this particular Nebraska team is like dating Marilyn Monroe. In her current state.

Nebraska was a dominant program for much of the '90s. But then long-time coach Tom Osborne, who has a Ph.D. in something (I think it's in Timing), stepped down and the Huskers splattered.

Or maybe his Ph.D. was in math. "Let's see, I stopped doing serious recruiting four years ago. I think I should retire right about-NOW!"

Still, there is that Nebraska mystique. The Holiday Bowl had a chance to take 11-1 Kansas State, which beat Nebraska earlier in the year, but passed.

By the way, did Kansas State get the shaft or what? At or near the top of the polls all year, they lose a double-overtime game to a very good Texas A&M team, and they not only miss out on the national championship game, they end up in the Alamo Bowl! Poor dudes. There'll be more mariachis in the half-time show than people in the stands. And the game will be televised on the local cable-access channel.

Finally, let's admit it: This is what we deserve for rooting for UCLA, a school we all despise. No way they were going to come through for us. And wasn't that a hideous display of football against Miami? I think the Bruins' luggage made it to Florida, but their defense was rerouted to Cleveland.

Worst of all was that on one of the Hurricanes' countless touchdowns that day, UCLA only had 10 men on the field. Where was the 11th man? He was probably on his cell phone with his L.A. bookie, trying to get a bet down on Miami. Idiot that he was, he figured that since he was on the East Coast, three hours ahead, the game hadn't even started yet in L.A.

Happy Bowling, Everybody. TW

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