2013 college football bowl schedule

Before getting to the 2013-14 college football bowl schedule and associated predictions and operations, a note on sponsored discourse. In this post-Musburger-for-all-the-Tostitos world, it is an unremarkable fact that the bowl games are not merely sponsored football contests but business entities in and of themselves, the sponsorship-style nomenclature– e.g., “the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl”– a mere reflection of the game’s less overtly monied past. Even the ostensible bastion of postseason intercollegiate purity now is known as “the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.”

When a bowl game is a business, and not merely a happening, there is an associated shift in the commercial advertising language referential to that business. The NFL’s decision to prohibit the use of “Super Bowl” by non-league advertisers, who now must offer you late-January deals on new televisions for watching “the big game,” provides a rough analogy.

I understand and accept the logic behind a business’ desire to control its portrayal in other business’ advertisements and insist on inclusion of a game’s full, sponsored title in that portrayal. What I do not understand is why the news media plays along. This week, I heard a local sports talk show talk about talking about Georgia’s appearance in “the Taxslayer dot com Gator Bowl,” and that’s far from the only example. I understand that some of the sponsors have integrated their names into the bowl games’ names in such a way that it’s difficult– or, where the sponsor’s name and the bowl’s name are one and the same, impossible– to say the bowl’s name without saying the sponsor’s name as well (e.g., the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Capital One Bowl, respectively). “Taxslayer dot com” is a mouthful, though, and everybody already knows the Gator Bowl. “The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio” is ridiculous to say, and things like “the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” “FedEx Orange Bowl,” and “Tostitos Fiesta Bowl” simply are superfluous. Why the sports news media feels obligated to append these sponsor names when discussing the bowls is beyond me, and you won’t find us doing it here, unless it’s something humorous like the Beef O’Brady Bowl or the RealOakFurniture.com Bowl.

Onto the bowl schedule, which begins this Saturday.   Continue reading

Beale Street recap: Vandy falls to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl, 31-24

After the Red Wings fell 3-2 to the Blackhawks at the United Center, I boarded a plane from Chicago early the next morning, and touched down in the land of the Delta blues, in the middle of the pouring sunshine. It was a beautiful New Year’s Eve day in Memphis, especially by my recently recalibrated Northern standards, and I’m not sure anyone could reasonably protest the prospect of tailgating outdoors in 60 degrees and sun on December 31st. Whenever I go to Memphis, I’m always (I write this as if I go there so often) struck by the lowness of the terrain. It isn’t just flat, it’s low. (Or maybe it was the lowrider dunebuggy of a rental car we had. It’s a tossup really.)

Hearing no reasonable or unreasonable protest, tailgate we did, the site graciously hosted and organized by the VSL Braintrust. After gorging ourselves on food, drink, and conversation, we made our way into the Liberty Bowl, which presents as large and grand but operates as small and comfortable. There’s an imposing fortress-like structure at the main entrance that would be impressively and confusingly lit at the end of the game, the moat area being a concourse that certainly felt like it was in the stadium but operated as a sort of DMZ for people to finish their outside consumables and proceed into the technical, ticket-taking entryway.

Once inside, I found myself in the best seats I’ve ever had for a sporting event of consequence. It wasn’t a surprise– I knew where the seats were– but there was something pretty neat about saddling up in the second row, right behind the Vanderbilt bench and about turning around and seeing a sea of black and gold stretched from end to end of the Commodore side of the stadium.   Keep reading…

Tuesday morning special

We normally do this on Mondays, but with the breakdown of this fall’s orderly football schedule, together with adverse outcomes in the two games I attended over the weekend and the opportunity to post the song below, I figured it was ok to wait until Tuesday this time.

On Friday, the Red Wings lost by a goal on the road to Chicago, and on Saturday, Vanderbilt lost by a touchdown to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. Recaps of both of those games will come later.

There wasn’t much of special note in the NFL’s final week of regular season play on Sunday, except that Steelers’ RB Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL and is done for the season, a literally crippling blow to Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl chances, especially considering Ben Roethlisberger’s lingering leg injury.

The traditional New Year’s Day bowls were played on January 2 this year, and Michigan State came back to win a triple-overtime game against Georgia in the Outback Bowl, much to the chagrin of commodawg and bpbrady. By the second half, it appeared that nobody wanted to win the game. The officials insisted that there had to be a winner, though, and two missed field goals by Georgia, including one the Spartans blocked in the third overtime, sealed the game.

The BCS games played yesterday were exciting as well. Oregon topped Wisconsin for the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl victory in over ninety years, and Oklahoma State beat Stanford in overtime for all the Tostitos in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tonight, the once-proud Sugar Bowl stakes its claim to irrelevancy when Michigan takes on Virginia Tech. Our bpbrady is there. Watch for him on tv, assuming he makes it into the stadium after a week in the French Quarter.

Liberty Bowl preview

After a couple weeks of silly bowl games and lamenting the defunctedness of the Baccardi Bowl, it’s come time to get into college football’s more serious postseason games. With the BCS bowls getting going on January 2 (there are no New Year’s Day bowls this year), New Year’s Eve provides a suitable appetizer, including Cincinnati and Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl, 2:30 pm Central time on ABC. Watch for me on the TV.

Rather than try to duplicate the good work already done by dedicated Vanderbilt bloggers and create my own full game preview, I’ll yield to more experienced voices below, after offering my own thoughts, in bullet-point format (it’s Memphis, after all):

  • While Vanderbilt was three plays away from a 9-3 record in the regular season, they finished 6-6, which still triples their win total from last year with essentially the same roster and bests their win total from the past two seasons combined. That said, a win on Saturday would give the Commodores a winning record on the season; a loss, of course, would give them a losing record. Coach James Franklin has hit this point in his preparation this week and I think it’s an important one. A season this good, comparatively speaking, cannot end with a losing record.
  • This is just the fifth bowl appearance for Vanderbilt, but this year’s senior class is the school’s first to play in two bowl games. At a school where nobody leaves early for the NFL (not even Jay Cutler), the seniors represent a strong, experienced group of leaders. They also have played for three different coaches (Bobby Johnson, Robbie Caldwell, and Franklin) in three years, so they have been through a lot together. After a win in the Music City Bowl three years ago, followed by two down years, the seniors seem to play for themselves as much as they do for Franklin and the future of the program. I think this bodes well for their performance in their final game.
  • As much as 2008’s Music City Bowl was a coming out party for quarterback Larry Smith, the 2011 season has been a coming out party for his replacement, Jordan Rodgers. The junior starter with a famous brother has been an offensive force this year, both as a rusher and a passer. Rodgers need not have a perfect total game for Vandy to win– other offensive options and tools are available– but he needs to avoid making the kinds of mistakes he did in the overtime loss to Tennessee.
  • Cincinnati is a relative unknown to me, and probably to you, something the information below should remedy. The two things that come to my mind are 1) they aren’t that far removed from Brian Kelly, so there probably is a talent residue there; and 2) their basketball team is made up of some hard brawlers, which may or may not carry over onto the football field. I just looked up their regular season record: 9-3. But they play in the Big East.
  • I’ve been to one other bowl game, the 2007 Rose Bowl. USC embarrassed Michigan that afternoon, and I was embarrassed to be associated with the state in which the losing team was located. I very much am hoping for a different result on Saturday.

History: Sensibly, the Liberty Bowl started in Philadelphia in 1959, but by 1965, it had moved to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis to host larger crowds and establish itself as one of the oldest non-BCS bowls. The People’s history of the Liberty Bowl is here.

Continue reading

Friday Delta Jam

Today’s Friday Jam comes to you from the road, where I’m beginning my reverse reinactment of the second third of the great blues migration. I will be in Chicago tonight for the Red Wings and Blackhawks, and I’ll be in Memphis tomorrow afternoon for the Liberty Bowl, where Vanderbilt will face Cincinnati. Given the recent spate of hockey head injuries, the most recent victim of which is Nashville’s Shea Weber, featuring Warren Zevon and Mitch Albom’s “Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)” in this spot didn’t seem quite right. The other selection never was in question, however, and I was happy to find this particular clip because it was the first time I’d ever heard the tune:

I hope that happens to me exactly, minus the rain and the catfish. I’ve caught catfish. I’ve eaten catfish. Various preparations. I’ve tried. I can’t do it anymore. And the pouring rain. It always seems to rain for the Liberty Bowl, but this year is shaping up just fine.