Part of the fun of the college football bowl season comes from all the goofy names that the specter of corporate sponsorship has given us. For instance, LSU and Alabama won't be playing for the national title, but rather for new insurance in the Allstate BCS National Championship. Likewise, Oklahoma State and Stanford will presumably be playing for a bag of chips in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Or at least, that's what the names would suggest. Obviously, they'll just be playing for trophies and big paydays.
But what if there were some measure of truth in advertising for bowl games, particularly those outside of the BCS mix? For these four bowl games, the storylines beneath provide plenty of fodder for new, if one-off, monikers.
Which bowl game features the most interesting storyline?
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
First of all, really? Taxslayer.com? Listen, I'm sure it's a useful product, but the Gator Bowl's usually a pretty respectable bowl game. They couldn't have attracted, say, QuickBooks or H&R Block?
Of greater interest, though, are the two teams set to meet on the field—Ohio State and Florida. You may recall that the Gators won two BCS titles with some guy named Urban Meyer as the head coach and that, coincidentally enough, some guy named Urban Meyer just emerged as the long-term replacement for Jim Tressel in Columbus.
Hmmm...coincidence? Is there ever such thing as a "mere coincidence" in college football? Chances are, there were more than a few folks (myself included) pulling for an Urban Meyer Bowl in South Florida.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
At long last, Texas and Cal will finally get to settle an old score—who really should've played in the 2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan.
As such, one might just as well refer to this year's Holiday Bowl as the 2005 Rose Bowl...Bowl.
The Longhorns ended up in Pasadena, where they beat the Wolverines in a 38-37 thriller behind an MVP effort from Vince Young. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears were sent farther south, to San Diego, for the Holiday Bowl, where they got creamed by Texas Tech, then coached by Mike Leach.
Still, you can bet there will be at least some bitterness from Cal coach Jeff Tedford toward Texas head man Mack Brown, who publicly lobbied for his team to earn an at-large berth into the Granddaddy of Them All and ultimately got his way.
Granted, the stakes aren't nearly as high, or the teams nearly as good, this time around, though the Bears ultimately had the last laugh, with Aaron Rodgers moving on to Super Bowl glory with the Green Bay Packers while Vince Young is struggling to keep the Philadelphia Eagles afloat.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Interesting that two teams with interim head coaches, Illinois and UCLA, will meet in the Fight Hunger Bowl, since that's exactly what Ron Zook and Rick Neuheisel will be doing, for themselves as well as their families, while they search for new employment.
In the meantime, the Fighting Illini and the Bruins will be led onto the field at AT&T Park in San Francisco by two guys who will be replaced in the coming weeks, Vic Koenning for Illinois and Mike Johnson for UCLA.
Hence, why not call this one the Lame Duck Bowl? Not a particularly new name for a bowl game—there have been plenty before featuring coaches on their way out—but an appropriate one nonetheless.
Especially since there figures to be more discussion about the coaching searches for these two programs than what goes on between them on the turf.
The real insight into the Insight Bowl is that Bob Stoops will be coaching against the school where he played his college football, once upon a time.
Indeed, Stoops, who played as a defensive back for Hayden Frye in the early 1980s, will lead his Oklahoma Sooners against the Hawkeyes, coached by Frye's successor, Kirk Ferentz.
Those sentimental ties won't likely prevent Stoops from unleashing Landry Jones and his talented Sooners on the 7-5 Hawkeyes, though you can bet there will be at least another word or two written or spoken about this Hawkeye Bowl and its participants.
And not just because one is vastly superior to the other.