Piggish for Pigskin

Holiday football reveals a new Colorado ailment.

So much for local color. Elsewhere, there was no dearth of pomp and pageantry. To the delight of most Coloradans, the Nebraska Cornhuskers finished off an unusually dim 7-7 year with a loss to underdog Mississippi in the Independence Bowl, and Washington (home to generally despised ex-CU coach Rick Neuheisel) blew a seventeen-point lead to eventual winner Purdue in the Sun Bowl. Football fans with virtually nothing on their plates (except ham) flipped on the boob tube at 10 a.m. MST on December 31 to watch Boise State and Iowa State contest the ill-named Humanitarian Bowl -- direct from the tropical splendor of Boise, Idaho. The game was played on a blue-painted artificial field in a steady downpour of freezing rain, before a crowd of, well, hundreds. One of the TV announcers was suffering so badly from laryngitis that he probably needed a week of recuperation in, say, Grand Forks. Boise State (aka the Broncos) won. Wearing orange and blue, of course.

Minnesota, Wake Forest, Fresno State and Michigan all pulled off bowl upsets -- but you already knew that -- while Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia administered thrashings to their respective opponents, Louisiana State, Washington State and Florida State. Some of this we might never have known -- at least not first-hand -- had a fiscal dispute between Denver's Channel 7 and the AT&T cable-TV people gone unresolved. The ABC affiliate had threatened to yank its programming off cable on January 1. Alas, the beef was settled at the eleventh hour, and -- for better or for worse -- five big-deal bowl games were saved from local banishment.

In his way, so was O.J. Simpson. To the evident discomfort of university officials, the former Southern Cal running back and accused wife-murderer popped in, uninvited, at one of his alma mater's Miami practices for the Orange Bowl, grinning and hugging and -- if we don't miss our guess -- telling the current Trojan players to get out there and kill Iowa. In Pasadena on New Year's morning, a brief glimpse of the annual Rose Parade revealed a float the size of Rhode Island that looked like a rotating mechanical village atop a birthday cake atop Anna Nicole Smith's breasts. It had been awarded a trophy for "exceptional merit in multiple classifications."

There's more. Preliminary to the Biggest Bowl Game of Them All -- last Friday's Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State's freshman running back, Maurice Clarett, loudly complained that the university had failed to provide him an airplane ticket to attend a friend's funeral. But Clarett was on hand for the Buckeyes' unlikely, referee-aided upset of number-one Miami. And just in case you were snoozing in the recliner during the aforementioned Continental Tire Bowl -- you may want to know that West Virginia Governor Bob Wise demanded a post-game apology from University of Virginia President John T. Casteen. Never mind the score: Virgina: 48, West Virginia: 22. During the halftime show, a Virginia student pep band took dead aim at West Virginia's rep as a socially challenged backwater with a skit based on TV's The Bachelor: In the parody, the "contestant" from West Virginia was gotten up as a hillbilly complete with pigtails, bib overalls and a gift for square-dancing.

Thus does the glorious pageant of the gridiron continue apace, even as we half-blind indolents lounge in our living rooms.

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