Lough: Bowl feast at just about right number

mlough@macon.comJanuary 2, 2014 

We are a nation filled with the memory challenged. For a week or so in early December every year, there is hemming and hawing, grousing and grumbling about the bowls.

We have too many. The matchups stink.

Blah, blah, blah. And then people watch.

OK, so folks, the alternative is substantially less football and an earlier end to the football season.

Ease up. Too many bowls and some yawn-inspiring pairings cost us nothing.

And we get more football, more entertainment. Did anybody expect the fireworks inside the Georgia Dome with Texas A&M and Duke to surpass any such show outside?

Central Florida? Who knew?

Plus, it helps aid fan bases in wringing their hands and allow for more chest-thumping about team and conference superiority. Gee, who wants less of that?

We’ve had the same number of bowl games, entering Thursday, decided by 20 or more points as last year, two fewer single-digit games, surprises, and people lying about how much they watch.

A year ago, only six bowls had fewer than two million viewers. More watched the Georgia Tech-Southern Cal bowl game than the LSU-Mississippi game in October 2012, for example.

We certainly don’t need more bowl games. In fact, we need about three fewer. But much less football, is that really advisable?

Especially in the South, which, unfortunately, isn’t much into most any other sport.

Drastically cut the number of bowls, and “any other sport” is next on the schedule, and with it, a level of moaning and “I just don’t like basketball.”

Around here, that’s too bad.

Mercer, for example, is amid perhaps the best run of any sport in school history in men’s basketball. Yes, we know that the history there in general is what it is.

But so is the present, and the present is a team that plays superb pure basketball, Wednesday’s stumble at North Florida notwithstanding, better than a lot of the big boys.

That goes back to another bout of discontent. People want the flashy stuff -- except when they don’t -- and note stereotypes.

The Bears have the flashy stuff and they have quality high-IQ basketball. Everything for the open mind.

Frankly, we have some pretty good college basketball on all levels within a fairly decent drive, between Mercer, Georgia College and, on the junior college level, Middle Georgia State and Central Georgia Tech. Fort Valley State is struggling, as is Wesleyan.

I can sit there and yell at a TV during a football game with the best of them, and the end of the season -- for some of us, there are three ends to football season: high school, college and pro -- is indeed a depressing time.

But just like that, the feeling is over. Bring on hoops.

For example, I can’t wait for the Florida Gulf Coast-Mercer men’s game at Hawkins Arena in three weeks.

You remember Florida Gulf Coast, the little basketball program from the A-Sun that more people know about than many football programs? That had its second-year head coach ride that wave to a big-time job at Southern Cal?

Actually, this Saturday night’s home game is pretty big, against a USC Upstate team that has already beaten Virginia Tech and South Carolina and is picked right behind Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer.

There’s anticipation if Mercer’s women can pull off the home upset in two weeks against Florida Gulf Coast’s women, the current A-Sun standard bearer, or do it two days earlier against defending tournament champion Stetson?

How many games in a row can Georgia College’s women win? They’re at 10 now and creeping up the national poll. Expect Georgia College’s men to be a big surprise in the Peach Belt and come closer to 20 wins than most expect.

We’ll hold off this chat about baseball until the weather improves, but it works then, too.

Meanwhile, we should, yes, bow our heads in a moment of silence when the clock reaches all zeroes on Monday after Auburn and Florida State, and be happy there’s no Taco Bell Bowl in Tulsa while embracing what else is now upon us.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com.

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