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College football’s last gasp in Birmingham

By Hunter Ford
Are you getting nervous yet, college football fans?

If you are a college football junky, the bowl season is a great time. Yet it causes pangs of withdrawal because the season will soon be over.

Two more college games remain to be played at Legion Field in Birmingham before the door slams shut on the 2008 campaign.

In the wake of the circus of the SEC Championship game, the SWAC Championship game will be played this Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Old Grey Lady.

In a clash of Tigers, Grambling and Jackson State will meet in a rematch of last year’s SWAC title, which was won by Jackson State in an offensive shoot-out. The SWAC title game and the annual Magic City Classic, between Alabama A&M and Alabama State, are probably the best annual sporting attractions in a dying Birmingham sports scene.

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Too bad that Birmingham can’t get its act together and build a new sporting venue. But when your chief executive is facing jail time and your sewer system has more holes than Swiss cheese, what are you going to do? Maybe we could put the dome on a septic tank. The annual Septic Bowl. Great!

It’s hard to believe that the first two SEC championship games were played at Legion Field back in 1992 and 93.

Birmingham will add to the gluttony of the present bowl season with its Bowl.

This year’s Pizza Bowl will feature Rutgers and North Carolina State. I can’t wait. I hope it’s as memorable as last season’s epic contest between…? Who played in last year’s Pizza Bowl. Do you remember? Didn’t think so.

I love college bowl games, but they have become more ridiculous and less appealing each year for the past two decades. The number of games has gotten so out of hand that the bowls can barely find enough teams to fill them.

The antiquated conference tie-ins limit the number of truly stellar games.

Alabama’s consolation prize, the Sugar Bowl against Utah is hardly exciting. The Crimson Tide should be able to play Texas, Penn State or USC. Any of those meetings would have had super story lines.

Alabama has never beaten Texas in a handful of games and hasn’t played the Longhorns since the 1982 Cotton Bowl following the 81 season. Alabama is barely ahead of USC in all-time bowl victories. A tilt with Penn State would revive memories of The Goal Line Stand. Can you believe Joe Paterno is still the Nittany Lions’ coach?

Consider this Bowl Season’s monumental contests.

We have Rice and Western Michigan in the Texas Bowl. What, Texas couldn’t find a corporate sponsor? The Independence Bowl, which usually matches the worst teams from the SEC and the Big 12, had to settle for Northern Illinois and Louisiana Tech for this year’s classic.

I feel sorry for Vanderbilt. The Commodores last went bowling in 1982 when they visited Birmingham for the now defunct Hall of Fame Bowl. Vandy started the year strong but trailed off at the end, finishing 6-6. The Commodores were invited to stay home and play Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. How funky is that name?

I wish we could go back to the good old days when bowls only needed one name, like Gator Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose, or Sugar. There was no dot com behind them.

Who’s playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl this year?

Yeah, I don’t care either.

3 thoughts on “College football’s last gasp in Birmingham”

  1. Firstly, as far as Birmingham is concerned, the door should be permanently closed on the Blazers’ program. What an embarrassment…

    I know I may be crossing the line on this one, but U$C is in fact barely trailing Alabama in all-time bowl wins, but if we were to have played/play the Big-10 champion year in and year out, we’d have us an untouchable bowl winning streak going on right now that no one could rival.

    Oh… the pain! One more game and it’s over… NOOOOOOOOO!

  2. again, in protest of the bcs, i’ll watch one bowl game: alabama’s.

    if enough folks quit watching, it hits their bottom line, ratings and ad money.

    i know. i’m pissing in a hurricane. but, dammit, in today’s ethical desert, a fella’s got to stand for something. i’ll work on my t/a.

    (oh wait, i lost my job! no money)

    on birmingham, i was raised in the smoke city. i remember the old vulcan, molten steel flowing at sloss, the puppy’s tail wagging on the 1st ave viaduct billboard, christmas window shopping downtown with my mom and dad. (at night no less!) but alas, those days are a wisp in the wind of my memory.

    around 1980, b’ham started becoming a black hole for sporting ventures. (along with a lot of other things) the vulcans, americans, stallions, fire, barracudas. (forgive me if i forget one, there were so many!!!)

    i was there for the first sec championship game. the “bone” game pat dye threw us. the untold numbers of tournament basketball games at the bjcc.

    i got out in ’96. moved to the piney woods of blount county.

    not long after i was driving about 300 yds. behind one of those tractor trailers that have become so infamous for losing those coiled steel loads. right in front of me. it was a miracle no one was killed. 4 in the afternoon.

    i took it as a sign that the less time i spent in birmingham, i better off i am.

    and with every new day comes another headline that validates that thought.

    rip, vulcan.

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