Fighting the media black hole of the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl this weekend the majority of college sporting events are trapped in anonymity. Here are some things you might miss.

Men’s basketball: Utah Valley at New Mexico State, Saturday 10 p.m. ESTObscurity Report new

The two best teams in the WAC will meet for the first time this Saturday night at New Mexico State. One of these schools will get an automatic bid come March. The other will be extremely bitter.

I know very little about Utah Valley’s basketball history and it turns out Wikipedia doesn’t know much either.

The Wolverines do have a perfect 7-0 WAC record, but the Aggies have only lost one home game this year (New Mexico No. 30 RPI). New Mexico State is the only WAC school with a Top-100 RPI at No. 71. Utah Valley is a distant 148 and is a bland 4-6 on the road. I’m taking New Mexico State in this one but the WAC Tournament Final is where it will get serious.

Men’s basketball: Toledo at Ohio, 7 p.m. Saturday

Toledo is having an impressive season at 18-2 and a RPI of 36. A win over Boston College and a hard-fought loss at Kansas is impressive but a loss at Ohio may cripple any at-large possibility.

Like the Rockets, the Bobcats have built an impressive record of 15-5 and a Top-100 RPI at No. 81. This is a coin-flip game as Ohio is 8-3 at home. Check out this blackout promo the Bobcats have.

I’m picking Toledo to win and play with urgency as this might the most difficult regular season game it has left. The MAC should be viewed as a multi-bid league with four teams in the RPI Top-100.

Women’s basketball: Notre Dame at Duke, 2 p.m. Sunday

Looking for something to do before the Super Bowl Sunday? Check out this top-3 duel between undefeated and No. 2 Notre Dame at No. 3 Duke. With Notre Dame in the ACC I’m sure No. 1 UConn is happy it no longer has to play this juggernaut in conference any more. The Fighting Irish is your problem now Blue Devils.

Look for these two to play a third time in the ACC Tournament Final. Whoever can take two out of the three meetings will more than likely secure a No. 1 seed in the big dance. I expect for Duke to hold serve at home thanks to $3 tickets.

If Duke wins I hope this player on the right will be a little bit more excited in her press conference.


Men’s Tennis: UCLA vs. Georgia, Sunday, 2 p.m. EST

Yes, we have our first ever men’s tennis mention here at the NC2A Nerd as No. 2 UCLA squares off against No. 3 Georgia.
Technically, this match is at a neutral site because they are playing at USC. Since that’s still in Los Angeles I have to call it a home match for the Bruins.

This match has the prestigious 10 a.m. local start time so it’s fair to question whether UCLA will be awake. I know I wouldn’t be. I’ll pick UCLA because I’m sure it’s a far better recruiting destination for international players. Los Angeles versus Athens is not a fair fight for some European tennis player looking to play in the states.

Advertisements

Arithmetic and Talent Shows

It was the first weekend of the year where college basketball had a complete monopoly on the sports world. Let’s take a look at some of the hilarious posts athletic departments did to grab publicity. Both good and bad. Sensor Scans

Gonzaga’s math problem

Gonzaga had a huge West Coast Conference win against BYU late Saturday night to give it the driver seat in the conference race. The game also featured this adventure in arithmetic from the school’s Twitter account.

In Gonzaga’s defense it can be hard to subtract 49 from 54 to get five when you’re live blogging in press row. I guess.

For future reference, schools should try to give only one stat per tweet as you can’t put a box score in 140 characters.

Fairfield’s talent show

MEAC member Fairfield had a very unique event involving all of its athletic teams. The school had its fourth annual student-athlete talent show Saturday night with the proceeds helping out a local family in need.

The result was a series of funny skits from all of the sports teams the Stags have to offer. Each show was judged off of its performance as the softball team made a solid try imitating Despicable Me. Here are the photos from the school’s Facebook page.

Fair softball

Have no idea what the Soccer team was doing here.

Fairfield soccer

But the winner went to the Men’s Cross Country team as it poked fun of the Winter Olympics. Here they are as the Jamaican bobsled team. I wonder what they did for Nancy Kerrigan?

Cross country fairfield

Nice job Fairfield, this would be a great story for the NCAA to make a commercial about. Because we all know the NCAA is there for student-athletes. Man, that last sentence was hard to type.

Morehead State gets fired up over a hard screen.

The level of passion for college basketball in Kentucky is beyond extraordinary. This counts for mid-major Morehead State in the Ohio Valley Conference. A player was hit on a screen against Tennessee State Saturday and caused this slice of awesomeness.

While most athletic departments just use social media for scores, stats and events; it is cool to see some emotion from one. Where else do you see “clobbered” and the sense of righteous fury in a basketball tweet? Keep up the good work Eagles.

Morehead State won the game in overtime 80-74 to improve to 14-8. With no quality wins out of conference, the Eagles will probably have to win the OVC tournament to get into the big dance but that’s a feasible goal for this team.

Texas Tech’s missing wallet

Women’s basketball teams sometimes have to do some zany things to attract fans but this has to be just plain nuts.

A wallet?

How vague is that? Here let me steal my roommate’s wallet and see if I can get some free books.

Product placement and elation at Hawaii

The Hawaii football team had a dismal 1-11 season but the basketball team is having a nice run in the Big West conference. With the game on the line at UC-Irvine, Hawaii needed a miracle three-pointer to force overtime.

That’s right, SHAM-WOW. It works because of Hawaii guard Keith Shamburger. The junior out of Lakewood, California had 11 assists and was nine out of 10 from the free-throw line. The Warriors needed each of those free-throws just as much as the desperation three to escape UC-Irvine 90-86 in overtime. Hawaii is 14-5 with quality wins over Oregon State and St. Mary’s. Expect to hear more out of this team as we approach March.

Western Kentucky speaks for all obsessed college football fans

The snow and the polar vortex didn’t stop Western Kentucky football from demonstrating its impatience.

And I thought I was reaching for content creation.

The Obscurity Report Debut

Time to preview some of the sporting events this weekend that will struggle to get attention but will have a big impact in a few months. Even better, we have our first ever men’s volleyball shout out of the year. Welcome to the Obscurity Report.

BYU at Gonzaga, Saturday, 10 p.m. ESTObscurity Report new

The West Coast Conference has been having another great year with over half the league in the RPI top 120. Gonzaga (No. 23) and BYU (No. 40) are the two leaders and they meet at Gonzaga Saturday night on ESPN2. It will be an opportunity to show off the league as nine of the 10 teams are above .500. Santa Clara is 10-11 and that’s nothing to be upset about.

Gonzaga has non-conference wins over RPI top-100 teams in West Virginia, Arkansas, and New Mexico State thanks to its efficient offense. The Bulldogs are No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage hitting over half their shots. They simply never miss as they scored over 70 points in 16 of its 19 games. Gonzaga comes in with a superior 17-3 record compared with BYU’s 13-8.

BYU’s offense has been even more explosive scoring over 80 points 16 of its 19 games. A tougher schedule has given BYU more losses but wins over Texas and Stanford have made up for it in the RPI.

I give the edge to Gonzaga at home but be sure to stay up late to watch this one. One, maybe both, will end up in the sweet sixteen.

St. Francis Brooklyn at Bryant, Saturday. 1:00 p.m. EST

With 12-8 records these two have the best seasons in the Northeast Conference. Unless 10-10 Robert Morris comes along, one of these two schools with get the automatic bid. Round one of this battle for a tourney spot is Saturday at Bryant.

St. Francis did score an upset at Miami to start the season so it does have a win against a top 100 team. Bryant’s best win came against average Vermont but it does play at home Saturday. Look for St. Francis to play hard and get the win after losing Thursday night to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Men’s Volleyball: No. 1 Pepperdine at No. 5 Long Beach State, Friday 10 p.m. EST

The men’s volleyball season is still warming up but we have a top-five match-up tonight when Pepperdine travels to Long Beach State. Pepperdine is a surprising No. 1 since it went 14-12 a year ago. The Waves went 4-10 on the road too and I seriously doubt those road woes can be fixed in one season. I expect Long Beach State to convert on this upset attempt at home.

Basketball Promotions Galore

Sensor scans returns as we do a tour of the hidden gems from the past week.

This is the trickiest time of the year for sports marketing specialists as athletic departmentsSensor Scans are trying to fill seats in their basketball games. If your team has no shot of making it to the tournament, has no basketball tradition, and it’s a polar vortex outside; then good luck attracting fans. Sadly, I just described half of the 349 division I programs.

Cincinnati has been extremely aggressive in its promotions. Even promising a chance to get your money back in a way.

The No. 19 Bearcats have not allowed 70 points in a game all year in its 19 games. Might be a great deal to take advantage of. With a 4-2 record against the RPI top 50, expect Cincinnati to make plenty of noise in the NCAA tournament. The fact they would resort to a deal like this to entice fans is shocking.

The Liberty Flames, a Christian school in Virginia, has turned to Frisbee dogs to help at the gate. I’m assuming the dogs are a better hit than the 7-10 Flames.

Want to go to a Kansas State women’s basketball game? I’m sure it won’t hurt your budget.

Free parking! If I have to pay for parking for a $1 event in Manhattan, Kansas I wouldn’t go to it anyway.

Marshall has this monster of a promo that includes the overused word “selfie.”

Doubt this would increase attendance as it reeks with desperation. When selfie comes into play it typically is a cry for help.

Southern Miss is all about its head coach Donnie Tyndall. So naming a town after him is supposed to pull me into a game?

If the Twitter doesn’t work, let’s try this cheesy video with a movie narration to boot.

The Golden Eagles even made this production so we can stalk Coach Tyndall around campus. If you are able to make it past 35 seconds of this sleeping pill I will be impressed.

Dumbest scheduling move ever

Nice job Memphis Tigers. You scheduled a division II program in mid-January, when you should playing high quality conference games. Instead you shelled out the cash to make LeMoyne-Owen (located in Memphis) a punching bag. Why? The game does little to help your RPI, impress pollsters and attract recruits. The Tigers have a 13-4 record but have few quality wins. Beating an overrated Louisville is pretty much it. Memphis did defeat Oklahoma State on a neutral site, just don’t mention the fact the two played previously in a 21-point destruction by OSU in the prior.

LeMoyne-Owen was the real winner as it got Sportscenter and showed off its unique nickname, the Magicians. LeMoyne-Owen even has a student oath and a Twitter account that’s hardly active.

That was tweeted on Thursday and nothing else was tweeted for another 48 hours. For an athletic department, that’s an eternity.

Auburn does win a title, in Mascots.

In one of the most fun contests on the college sports season, was the national mascot contest. Aubie the Tiger from Auburn won it for the 8th time. Think this doesn’t matter, think again.

Like winning the national title in football. If you consider mascots to be as important.

Like winning the national title in football. If you consider mascots to be as important.

Auburn is going to milk this for all it’s worth as they should. Forget that it is a contest involving a student in a tiger costume dancing to music with cheap props. This is Auburn beating out every other school including Alabama on a dance floor. This national title probably takes out 25 percent of the sting of losing the championship in football. Maybe 50?

California’s strange budget

The good news, California will be adding a sand volleyball team.

Sand volleyball is rapidly growing in NCAA, especially on the west coast, but that’s not the point here. Just a few years ago the Cal athletic department was struggling financially. So much so it cut its baseball team.
Seems improbable that Golden Bears would be in position today to add a sport without restoring baseball first. I’m sure Cal baseball alumni are scratching their heads at the moves of its athletic department.

The dumbest ESPN story of the year… as of January.

Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com is a good writer but apparently was forced into a filler story the past week. With not a lot going on after the title game he wrote a top 25 poll for 2014 just to get people talking. Nothing good can ever come out of college football poll eight and a half months before the start of the season. Say that one more time. Nothing good can ever come out of college football poll eight and a half months before the start of the season.

The poll itself is unimaginative as not a single mid-major program made the top 25. Heck, not a single squad out of the American Athletic Conference made it either. There’s your motivation Central Florida.

As great as college football is I’ve never liked when people try to make it a 365-day sport. This is why we inflate National Signing Day until everyone needs Tums or Pepto-Bismol. Find another sport for four months folks.

An objective way to rank the conferences

Is this still the best conference in the county or the acronym for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Is this still the best conference in the country or the acronym for the Securities and Exchange Commission?

Ranking conference power has become a never ending debate for college football fans. Conference prestige leads to better chances of gaining BCS slots and next year, playoff seeds. With only four playoff seeds expect huge feuds between the leagues. And what if three SEC teams get into the four-team playoff? Welcome to Armageddon.

To sift through the propaganda, we need an objective tool to do this. That is where the Sagarin rankings come in. Sagarin, a formula created by Jeff Sagarin, is the only system that rates all FBS and FCS teams. The main components of the system include strength of schedule and margin of victory. As the season goes along it becomes more accurate. Here is an example I did a couple of years ago on how the Big Ten compares to the Mid-American Conference.

Sagarin does create his own conference rankings too but breaks it down by division. Hence, the SEC West is separated from the SEC East. That’s not what college football fans want.

Using the individual team ranking I simply added the conference teams together and divided by the number of teams in the league to find the average. I also found the conference median, an example would be the seventh best team in a 13-team league. Splitting the difference between the average and the median would be the total score. Here are the results. FCS leagues are italicized and non-BCS leagues are underlined. Remember, a lower score means you are closer to a top 25 ranking. Conference rankingsSEC and PAC-12 equal?

The difference is virtually insignificant. The biggest distinction is between the outliers of the conference, Kentucky and California. You guessed it, the worst team in each league. Kentucky (2-10) came in at No. 104 while Cal (1-11) was borderline cancer at No. 118. Cal did not beat a single FBS opponent all year and was only competitive once in PAC-12 play (Arizona). Kentucky was nothing to be proud of but it did make South Carolina and Mississippi State work for it. The better margin of defeat (Kentucky’s football slogan and I say that as a Lexington native) gave the SEC the edge.

The real story though is the SEC is not so vastly better than everyone else. Stanford and Arizona State ended up with the No. 1 and No. 2 most difficult schedules respectfully. This is partly because the PAC-12 plays nine conference games, eliminating a soft non-conference game against a FCS or low level FBS team. Contrast that with Alabama, who played FCS Chattanooga and the leaky nuclear reactor known as 0-12 Georgia State.

ACC bottom feeders

Congratulations to Florida State on winning the championship. Problem is your conference only has three teams in the top 40 (FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech). The PAC-12 and SEC have 10. Having two teams outside the top 100 (Virginia and N.C. State) is a disaster for a power conference looking for credibility. Florida State better go undefeated again next year if it wants to be in that four-team playoff.

No hope for the AAC

If the SEC and PAC-12 are fine dining then the American Athletic Conference is Long John Silver’s. No one in the league had a strength of schedule in the top 60. Connecticut won three conference games and still finished at No. 121. Don’t even mention dead weight South Florida at No. 143. Oh, and Louisville is going to the ACC next year. Good luck.

Missouri Valley and Colonial make the leap

The other eye-popping score came from two FCS conferences. The Missouri Valley blew past two FBS conferences (MAC and Conference USA) and would have caught the Sun Belt too if it had more than eight teams. This is thanks to No. 17 North Dakota State winning its third FCS title. North Dakota State is the first FCS team to even crack the top 25 of the final Sagarin rankings since the end of the 1996 season (No. 21 Marshall). Its win at No. 23 Kansas State inflated the strength of schedule for the rest of conference.

FBS level football on a FCS budget.

FBS level football on a FCS budget.

Three other MVC teams cracked the top 100 as even last place Indiana State did its part. The Sycamores went a dreadful 1-11 and stayed in the top 200 at No. 198. This was in part thanks to a close defeat at Big 10 Purdue. While the Boilermakers shot the average of the Big 10, the Sycamores did only moderate damage to the MVC.

The Colonial Athletic Association also had four schools in the top 100 with No. 66 Towson leading the way. Villanova came in at No. 88 despite its 6-5 record. That’s unheard of for a FCS program.

Honorable Mentions

The Ivy League for having an average FCS ranking despite not giving out scholarships. When six BCS teams are behind No. 112 Princeton and No. 114 Harvard, it’s time to point and laugh.  Also to the Pioneer League, another league that does not give scholarships, for staying close with the SWAC.

I survived four hours of ESPN and lived to tell the tale

It was a great game but was it great enough to protect me from the brainwashing power of ESPN?

It was a great game but was it great enough to protect me from the brainwashing power of ESPN?

8:00 – Starting off my four hour ESPN binge. So far so good. A tasteful time lapse video of the grounds crew preparing the field after the Rose Bowl.

8:12 – After a series of bad commercials, including a promo for “Chozen,” (might be the worse cartoon ever) we see a spot for the new Chris Pine movie “Shadow Recruit” featuring the Auburn mascot. It promoted the movie and college football at the same time. Nice job advertisers.

8:16 – With the Florida State band blaring in the background, Lee Corso picks the Seminoles to win by dawning a throwback helmet. All of this occurs while Alabama coach Nick Saban awkwardly critiques Auburn. Shouldn’t he be recruiting or watching film? I’m sure Auburn fans muted the television whenever his face appears.

8:29 – Bo Jackson and Bobby Bowden hug each other at midfield for the coin toss. Cool sight.

8:32 – With smoke still on the field from opening fireworks, we have kickoff. Someone screwed up.

8:33 – Cam Newton introduces Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, Another moment where Alabama fans muted the TV.

8:36 – Auburn calls a time-out after three plays. Anxious?

8:38 – Chris Weinke reappears out of nowhere to introduce Jameis Winston. The fact I know who Chris Weinke is makes me feel old.

8: 46 – Start checking out the “spider” cam on ESPN 3. It’s just a sky cam but I love hearing the game audio as oppose to the announcing. No commercials but no replays either. FSU is up 3-0.

8:53 – Turn to ESPN 2 for “Title Talk” and instantly regret it. Michael Smith, Jemelle Hill, Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and someone with a southern accent I can’t identify. Shouldn’t Jesse Palmer should be watching the bachelor instead?

9:01 – The woman I couldn’t identify was Cheryl Hines from “Suburgatory.” Disney is just doing everything it can to promote itself.

9:04 – Touchdown Auburn. The Title Talk on ESPN 2 is crazy mismatch of personalities that will be on Awful Announcing soon. Even Taylor Hicks from American Idol would later enter the room. Changing the channel at warp 8.

9:16 – The best tweet so far comes from Pat Forde.

9:24 – Touchdown Auburn on a 50-yard pass. So much for that great FSU defense.

9:30 – Florida State’s offense looks lost. Winston might have been too loose coming into the game.

9:43 – Auburn misses a chip shot field goal. Still only up 14-3. Might be a turning point for FSU.

9:46 – Florida State fumbles giving the ball right back to Auburn. So much for turning point. A friend texted me saying the score will end up being 45-24 Auburn. It kills him that the SEC is dominating another BCS title game.

9:50 – Touchdown Auburn, 21-3. This could get ugly.

9:58 – Touchdown Florida State, 21-10. Nice to see the Noles quickly get off the mat.

10:06 – Half ends on a punt, how exciting.

10:22 – More Nick Saban offering analysis on how Florida State can get back into the game. How does this make Auburn fans feel?

10:34 – After a three an out for FSU, Auburn nearly fumbles the fair catch. Still not looking good for the Seminoles.

10:46 – Went back to Title Talk and low and behold, Johnny Football is in the room eating food. And get this, they are actually having an intelligent conversation on life after winning the Heisman trophy.

Maybe the "spider" cam should become the primary viewpoint in football broadcasts. It's like playing Madden.

Maybe the “spider” cam should become the primary viewpoint in football broadcasts. It’s like playing Madden.

10:49 – Auburn forces another three and out to protect its 21-13 lead. I thought the experts said this defense was going to give up six yards a play.

11:03 – James Franklin of Vanderbilt is taking a lot of time on the “title talk” set. Also gives a sarcastic conspiracy theory as to how Vandy almost loss to Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Houston fans must be throwing the remote at the TV after hearing that joke.

11:08 – After three quarters it’s Auburn 21-13.

11:10 – Holy Cow, a trailer for the new Lego movie. How did Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson sign up for this.

11:20 – Check out ESPN NEWS in the “Film Room” So much better than the chaos of Title Talk. Meanwhile FSU gets an interception and scores a touchdown. Auburn still leads 21-20 as the two point conversion option is taken out due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger love the call. I do not. Too big of a stage for that flag.

11:29 – Tre Mason has been carrying Auburn on the ground like he has all year. If he breaks one it’s all over.

11:32 – Auburn bleeds the clock with a long drive but only gets a field goal to make it 24-20. Don’t think that’s good enough.

11:34 – Improbable touchdown on a kickoff for FSU. 27-24. Viewed it on Fan cam as the Seminole fans went nuts in the bottom left corner.

Go Crazy FSU fans! Except for the guy in the corner who never moved.

Go Crazy FSU fans! Except for the guy in the corner who never moved.

11:36 – Friend who thought FSU was about to get rolled is befuddled when he turns the game back on. “How are they ahead?”

11:39 – Auburn converts on third and long as Marshall escapes the rush. Another miracle in the works?

11:46 – Tre Mason finally breaks one for a nice touchdown. 31-27. FSU’s defense is clearly winded.

11:52: – Winston completes a 49-yard pass to Rashad Greene with a touchdown saving horse collar tackle the refs missed. Under a minute to go and FSU must get a touchdown.

11:55 – Auburn’s secondary miscommunicated on a 1st down play from 12 yard line. Lucky to get an incompletion as the coverage was a traffic jam of Tigers running into each other.

11:57 – On third down the Tigers get too physical in their press coverage as Chris Davis is called for pass interference in the end zone. Only a matter of time now.

11:58 – Touchdown FSU on first and goal. The Seminoles have successfully completed their first miracle comeback of the season. And they picked the best time to do it too.

12:03 – Ball Game. Congratulations to Florida State on their undisputed National Championship. Not every BCS title winner can say “undisputed.” Hopefully that will change in the playoff format. Bye bye BCS.

11 Overlooked Details of the College Football Bowl Season

ND State party

Yeah, we are North Dakota State and … we are completely overlooked.

The college football bowl season (like it or hate it) provides copious amounts of sports television opportunities during the holidays. Out of the 35 games played, 34 really don’t matter in terms of the national championship. Because of this, the other 34 games are slugging it out for media attention that just is not there. Here are some things that were overlooked.


11. Inflating attendance numbers

UNLV and North Texas were playing on New Year’s Day in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and people appeared to not get the memo. The game was on ESPNU so even the Worldwide Leader thought little of a Conference USA/Mountain West duel. Can’t blame ESPN as bigger bowl games were going on.

Only 38,380 showed up despite the contest being a virtual home game for North Texas. That didn’t keep North Texas from boasting about it.

Great crowd? Maybe for a Conference USA school but for a New Year’s Day bowl game that’s a sad turnout. I hope this bowl changes its date for the future years.

10. UNLV’s useless stat

UNLV also made a silly tweet during the game. With the scored tied at half 7-7 the Rebels went deep into the stat book and came out with this gem.

Talk about small sample size. One game makes it stat worthy? Sounds like the athletic department was bored and was trying to get out as many statistics as possible. Needless to say, UNLV was outscored 29-7 in the second half for a 36-14 defeat.

9. Team photos

Part of the bowl preparation for each team is tacking new team photos. Few tend to be noteworthy or even eye appealing, but this one from Iowa at the Outback Bowl is. How many times do you see a football team by a pirate ship?

8. Conference USA plays connect the dots

Part of the problem of being a mid-major conference is educating fans who you are. Most Americans can’t name three Conference USA schools so what does the conference do to promote its bowl games? Make a graphic a kindergartner can understand and post it as the cover photo on your Facebook page.

To passionate football fans this somewhat makes sense.  To non football fans it looks like Captain Jack Sparrow is going deep.

To passionate football fans this somewhat makes sense. To non football fans it looks like Captain Jack Sparrow is going deep.

Not sure if this is genius or incredible infantile. Probably both. Nice marketing? Maybe? Conference USA would go a respectable 3-3 in bowl season.

7. People freaking out on the SEC

A few bowl games did receive attention especially the Sugar Bowl involving SEC powerhouse Alabama. With Alabama’s defeat to Oklahoma, people on social media began unleashing jabs at the “overrated” SEC. The stats fail to back that claim up. Prior to the championship game, the SEC has gone an impressive 7-2 in bowls. Compare that to the Big 10, (2-5) and you’ll see there is nothing overrated about the best conference in college football.

6. ESPN vs. Fox

Moving to more of a media debate, Friday night saw Fox going head to head with ESPN as it aired the Cotton Bowl against the Orange Bowl. It was really the first time where the whole Fox/ESPN rivalry became more than a joke. Following the game, Sports Center did everything it could to bury the Cotton Bowl behind the Orange. I would love to see Fox broadcast more of these bowl games next year and make ESPN work for it. ESPN has been upsetting the past few years not using ABC at all. They are the same Disney company but only one bowl game aired on ABC. Network television is still carries more weight than cable and shame on Disney for not using ABC.

5. New Commercials

The Super Bowl is the big event for advertisers, but bowl season has some firepower too. Sadly, there was more bad than good.

The ugly: Any commercial for AT&T and Chevy trucks.

The bad: Rally’s featuring Terrell Owens and the infinite promos for ABC’s new show “Killer Women.”

The Good: Lay’s potato chips featuring Mr. Potato Head. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad spot with a Mr. Potato Head endorsement. I also saw this Interstate Batteries spot for the first time and it made me chuckle.

4. Buffalo loves spuds

Bowl games are suppose to be a rewarding experience to the players for a winning season. The exception being the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. That’s just pure torture. When you see the program you can tell what you’re in for.

Buffalo tried to have fun with it. Even wearing potato hats to get in the spud mood.

Buffalo would go on to lose to San Diego State 49-24. Not that anyone cared.

3. Non BCS spoilers flop

Northern Illinois and Fresno State were undefeated deep into the regular season and had BCS hopes. Late losses prevented that dream for both teams but they could make up for it in the bowl game. Not so much. Northern Illinois was blasted by Utah State and Fresno State was non competitive against USC. It was a bad reflection on the rest of the Non Automatic Qualifiers.

2. Awkward press conferences

Losing a bowl game stinks, but rubbing salt in the wound would be this scene at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Bowling Green had a tough loss to Pittsburgh yet had to stare at the trophy it lost in the press conference. Just brutal.

Those faces are common for the loser of a bowl game and they tell you two things.
1. “This blows”
2. These “meaningless” bowl games matter.

1. North Dakota State repeats as FBS Champs for the third straight year.

No. 1 is not about a bowl, it’s about a national title. The Bison dominated everyone in the FCS playoffs including Towson in the title game. North Dakota State’s three-peat is absolutely incredible. The program shows the value of competing in the FCS level as opposed to breaking the bank in the FBS.

Even more shocking is its coach Craig Bohl, after his third FCS crown he is finally leaving for a FBS job. The prestigious job of … Wyoming? The Wyoming Cowboys?

Where are all the BCS schools looking for quality coaches? Bohl is everything a booster or athletic director should want in a coach. A consistent winner. As high profile jobs like Texas and USC come off the board, I can’t help but wonder how broken the coaching carousel is. Saying FCS coaches should spend time at a lower level FBS schools before going to the big boys is a fallacy. North Dakota State defeated Kansas State this season. A Kansas State team that pummeled Michigan in it’s bowl game. He has built a team that can compete against anyone with only a fraction of the budget FBS juggernauts have.

Look for Bohl to build Wyoming into the new powerhouse of the Mountain West Conference soon. His coaching skills will not be overlooked for long.