There is nothing like college football on Jan. 1 to ring in the New Year, but don’t ring this Sunday because only the NFL will be home.
Deck the halls with bowls of folly as college cedes its traditional day to the religious celebration known as “Tim Tebow versus Kansas City.”
No Jan. 1 college games this year — now that’s sacrilege. But let’s get over it. Look, it’s already been an oddball bowl season. Louisiana Lafayette used an “illegal stemming” call to beat San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl.
Illegal stemming sounds more like an infraction a Rose Parade official would call on a float.
Missouri’s mascot, Truman the Tiger, accidentally dropped the trophy Monday before the Independence Bowl. The crystal shattered into tiny pieces before Missouri could joyously hoist it to dozens of fans celebrating victory against North Carolina.
The paid attendance in Shreveport, La., for that game was announced as 41,728, but on TV it looked more like the Indy Bowl “500.”
In other news, Craig James of ESPN recently announced he was running for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Also, before Santa went down the chimney, UCLA players went “over the wall” in a timeless but tired tradition new coach Jim Mora hopes to end along with 50-0 losses to USC.
Is the NFL really so powerful, though, as to force the colleges off Jan. 1?
The answer is no, it just seems that way. College football historically has not played on Jan. 1 Sundays, although Nebraska and Miami did in the 1995 Orange Bowl.
The Tournament of Roses has never staged its parade or game when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday. That decision dates to an 1893 “never on Sunday” parade edict that had to do with not wanting to frighten horses tethered outside local churches.
Oregon and Wisconsin will play the 13th Rose Bowl game contested on Jan. 2, and the first since 1995. The unlucky Oregon omen is the Ducks were 38-20 losers to Penn State in that game.
Penn State also lost when it capped an undefeated season by finishing No. 2 to national champion Nebraska. The teams couldn’t play because Penn State was contractually obligated to Pasadena, but the controversy ultimately led to the creation of the Bowl Championship Series.
And that led to the Rose Bowl being played on Jan. 3 in 2002, two days after the parade, when Miami trounced Nebraska for the BCS title. The Rose Bowl was contested on Jan. 4 in the classic 2006 title-game matchup of USC and Texas.
The good news about Oregon-Wisconsin this year is that we can money-back guarantee you this game will be better than the first Jan. 2 Rose Bowl — played in 1922. Oregon and Wisconsin have the nation’s No. 3 and No. 4 scoring offenses, averaging a combined 91 points per game.
On Jan. 2, 1922, California scrummed Washington & Jefferson to a scoreless tie in the last Rose Bowl played at Tournament Park. Cal was a heavy favorite only a year after its “Wonder Team,” led by Brick Muller, roughed up Ohio State, 28-0. Washington & Jefferson, a tiny Pennsylvania school of 450 students, was not supposed to stand a chance.
One West Coast sportswriter quipped before the game, “All I know about Washington and Jefferson is that they’re both dead.”