What I Loved and Hated from the College Football Bowl Season
Well done, college football. Well done by all.
This year’s bowl season proved to be quite the ride, although sadly it has come to a close. A magnificent run of performances culminated in one of the greatest national championships ever played—and the end of the BCS era.
Florida State and Auburn put on a show, and you needed to be reminded that breathing was acceptable and encouraged during the final five minutes of game time. Before the season shut down in thrilling fashion, however, there was bowl brilliance everywhere.
To celebrate it all, the weekly Love/Hate column has returned for a special bowl game edition. And it is special. There was Steve Spurrier exorcising his troll demons, Johnny Manziel testing football physics, an Alabama fan hoping to capture flight, a nasty stiff arm you wanted no part of and so much more.
Before we close the book on the season, here’s what I loved and hated about the college football bowl series.
LOVED: Steve Spurrier's Expert Clemson Trolling
On Steve Spurrier’s business card, right beneath the part where it says, “South Carolina Head Football Coach,” and just a notch below the part where it states his current golf handicap, it says, “Trolling Expert.”
Well, we can only assume this label exists on the Ol’ Ball Coach’s calling card—and if it doesn’t, it probably should.
After winning the Capital One Bowl, Spurrier felt it was the right time to call out the Clemson Tigers and Dabo Swinney, because there really isn’t ever a wrong time in his eyes. So he took it.
HATED: To Get a Kenzel Doe Stiff Arm
Steve Spurrier’s expert trolling wasn’t the only notable moment of the Capital One Bowl. Wisconsin’s Kenzel Doe delivered a stiff arm straight out of NFL GameDay '98.
Do you remember this game? If you do, you might recall just how magnificent it was when you hit the stiff arm button at the right time. The distance it would send the defender flying shortly thereafter was always impressive.
Doe’s effort on his 91-yard kickoff return was a trip back in the old video game time machine. Boy, I’d hate to be on the other end of that.
LOVED: Johnny Manziel's Magic
For people tuning in to Johnny Manziel for the first time, (a) what is wrong with you, (b) no, seriously, what is wrong with you, and (c) this is basically what he has been doing his entire college career.
OK, so his play against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl might be his most outstanding yet, but it’s tight near the top. This is a weekly experience.
We’ll be watching this one well after Manziel is gone, which would appear is happening soon. He's off to destroy the “this won’t work in the NFL” narrative that will be loud and clear.
Good luck with that.
HATED: Brent Musburger's Intro
Brent Musburger is one of the true pros in the business and my favorite announcer of all time. In fact, it really isn’t close.
His smooth delivery, vast football knowledge and love of all things gambling create the perfect combination for a broadcast. It’s like he’s talking directly to me.
Unfortunately, however, Musburger didn't have his brightest moment at the start of the BCS National Championship Game. Well, unless he and Kirk Herbstreit swapped names and forgot to tell somebody.
If that is the case, I’ll apologize right now. If not, then we’ll just give Brent a mulligan on this one.
LOVED: ESPN's "Megacast" and This Called Fake Punt
The love will be handed out in multiple directions here, and deservedly so. ESPN’s “Megacast” broadcast of the BCS National Championship provided ample viewing options and opinions from head coaches, and it turned out to be brilliant. It may actually change the way football is consumed down the line.
The benefits of such broadcasting tools were on display when Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin accurately called Florida State’e fake punt in the second quarter with ESPN’s Matt Millen, Chris Spielman and Tom Luginbill.
Nicely done, gents. And I can’t wait to see more of this in the future.
HATED: To Be Kicked by an Alabama Fan
By now you’ve probably seen this video a few dozen (hundred?) times. Maybe you’ve even seen this particular version cued up with Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." If not, you have now and will never forget it.
Let me just say that I don’t like fighting at all, nor should any scene like this be tolerated or accepted at a football game, or anywhere else for that matter.
With that being said, it takes a special kind of rage to cause someone to leave their feet and go for the knockout punch headfirst. She has since apologized to Nick Saban and should be available for spring practice.
LOVED: This Arkansas State Trick Play
And you thought the highlight of the GoDaddy Bowl was going to be the endless Jean Claude Van Damme commercials. Well, no, although they were good...and weird.
The highlight of the game was a trick play courtesy of Arkansas State, one it calls “Hide the Midget.” Yes, that’s actually the real name of the play, and the great Gus Malzahn originally designed it in his time at the school.
Arkansas State handed their 5'9" running back the ball and kept him out of view. The play went for 27 yards against Ball State.
HATED: To Be the Sugar Bowl Stage
Following their massive Sugar Bowl upset over Alabama, the Oklahoma players so excited that they decided to gather together—as one collective unit—and celebrate the win on ESPN’s postgame stage.
The moment was beautiful and spoke volumes about the team effort the upset demanded. It made sense for everyone to be in the same place at once.
And then the stage broke.
What happens when you put too many large men on a portable seating area built for four to six people?
This happens. Things break.
LOVED: Nebraska's 99-Yard Touchdown
It’s 3rd-and-14 and you’re inside your own 1-yard line. The only thing left to do is call a predictable run and pick up three or so yards to give your punter space to operate, right?
No, actually—at least not according to Bo Pelini.
Nebraska was put in this very situation against Georgia in the Gator Bowl and responded with a 99.5-yard touchdown after Tommy Armstrong Jr. found Quincy Enunwa streaking down the sideline.
It was a huge bowl victory for the Cornhuskers at a time when their coach needed it.
You could make the argument, however, that this was only the second-best Nebraska play of the bowl season. Bo Pelini interacting with his parody account on Twitter is the social-media equivalent of a 99.75-yard touchdown.
HATED: To Be Trucked by Logan Thomas or Jordan Zumwalt
The Sun Bowl was without question the hardest hitting bowl game this season, and these two hits in particular stand out above the rest.
The first slam was by quarterback Logan Thomas, who made Myles Jack—UCLA’s gifted linebacker and running back—look like a 165-pound corner when he tried for a tackle (seen above).
The second was Logan Thomas again, although he was on the receiving end of this hit from linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. It came with a 15-yard penalty and unfortunately knocked Thomas out of the game.
Note to self: Do not somehow end up in the Oklahoma Drill with Jordan Zumwalt.
LOVED: Dancin' Gary Pinkel
Missouri won the Cotton Bowl in thrilling fashion, which meant only one thing.
It was time to dance.
Taking a page out of Mike Gundy’s book—the man he beat about 30 minutes prior—Pinkel fired up the old moves machine and delivered an outstanding locker room showing.
The biggest thing here was he didn’t get out of his element. Oftentimes coaches operate in rhythms unfamiliar to their character, but not Pinkel.
Slow, methodical and downright smooth, he drew an 8.5 from the judges.
HATED: This Georgia Tech Fake Punt
My friends, you are looking at one of the worst fake-punt attempts in the history of the sport. It occurred in the Music City Bowl, and Georgia Tech was clearly feeling like it needed to establish some momentum.
The call itself wasn’t terrible, even though it wouldn’t have come close on 4th-and-11, but that’s not the part that makes this play special.
It’s the fact that Georgia Tech punter Sean Poole was tackled hard—really hard—by the grass.
No wonder Grass was a 3-star recruit.