Smaller bowl games pure joy

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Mike Bianchi
Monday, December 21, 2009
— The rage in college football is to keep getting bigger and bigger.

Bigger stadiums. Bigger conferences. Bigger bowl games.

But you know what?

Sometimes, smaller seems better.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but maybe, just maybe, there needs to be more bowls like the humble, hospitable St. Pete Bowl and less like the corporate conglomerate BCS behemoths.

“This bowl is a dream come true for us,” said John Swoboda, a UCF sophomore who was in the parking lot tailgating five hours before kickoff of Saturday night’s

45-24 St. Pete Bowl loss to Rutgers.

“It’s been a season to remember,” said fellow UCF sophomore Aaron Allen.

Unfortunately, Saturday night was a game to forget. UCF fans showed up en masse in St. Petersburg, but unfortunately their defense forgot to make the trip. Seriously, how does a Rutgers offense ranked 99th in the country score 45 points and gain 400 yards on a UCF defense that was the best in Conference USA?

Oh, well, another season passes without UCF winning a bowl game. Too bad the team couldn’t put on a better show for its fans, but, hey, the beer was cold in the tailgating lots and everybody seemed to have more fun than Tiger Woods in a roomful of Hooters girls. And isn’t that all that really matters at a bowl game?

Every time I cover one of these off-Broadway bowls, the more I become convinced that these games represent the true meaning of the holiday bowl season.

Maybe a bowl game

doesn’t have to come pre-packaged with ornate BCS ribbons and bows to be worthwhile.

What a refreshing change it was to hear—or not to hear—what we have come to expect from bowl season. We didn’t hear the clattering, clanging and clamoring for a playoff system. And we didn’t hear fans, coaches and players wishing they were someplace else.

“This is the bowl game we were hoping for,” UCF quarterback Brett Hodges said.

It didn’t matter that the St. Pete Bowl is about as far away from a BCS bowl as is symbolically possible. It didn’t matter that this was a football game played in a baseball stadium. UCF fans sold out three allotments of tickets and their fans made up an estimated 20,000 of the sellout crowd of 29,673.

What’s it say about college football when UCF fans and players were more excited about playing in the St. Pete Bowl than UF fans and players are about playing in the Sugar Bowl? The Gators, as of Friday, still had more than 5,000 Sugar Bowl tickets remaining from their allotment of 17,000.

It seems even in defeat, UCF fans have something UF fans headed for the Sugar Bowl wish they had:


Last updated: 12:07 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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