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'Tis the season to go bowlingPosted Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at 6:23 PM
Over the next month or so college football fans will have more than enough to keep them occupied. All they will need is a little time away from the rest of the world, the ESPN family of networks at their ready and a place to watch.
Beginning Dec. 18 and continuing until Feb. 5, the onslaught of college bowl games will give fans the opportunity to run the gamut of viewing.
From the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. until the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Challenge in San Antonio, Texas on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. college football fans can get more than their fill of matchups, breakdowns and touchdowns.
There are currently 35 bowls and about four other all-star games to fill the plate of the college football fan.
Personally I have been to two bowl games, the 1999 Peach Bowl in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome and the 2007 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee at LP Field.
The first was a work assignment by the newspaper I worked for in Jonesboro, Georgia (one of the south suburbs of Atlanta) and the latter was a pleasure trip with my son-in-law Sean.
The Peach Bowl featured Clemson and Mississippi State, with the Bulldogs of MSU coming out on top 17-7.
While the game itself was less than stellar, it was my first trip to a bowl game, and being a member of the media made it all the more special.
The game took place on Dec. 30 and it beat sitting in a hotel room. I had just taken a job with the Clayton News Daily/Henry Co. Daily News in Jonesboro and took the offer from my then boss to come early and cover the game.
The game was the final one for Jackie Sherrill as coach of MSU and was a showcase of yellow flags by the officials.
It featured 21 penalties on the Bulldogs and another eight on the Tigers and coach Tommy Bowden.
Neither team scored in the first half and that led to a combined total yardage of 482 yards for the game.
In fact, all but three of the points (a 39-yard field goal by Mississippi State's Scott Westerfield) went up on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
For me personally, the most exciting part of the game was the opportunity to indulge in free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.
They were the sponsor of the game and therefore fed the mass of media that had swarmed the Georgia Dome.
There were so many sandwiches available that each member of the media in the pressbox was offered extras to take home.
Being stuck in a hotel room by myself, sans the wife's cooking, having an extra chicken sandwich was quite a treat.
To this day I still have the "media gift" that all of us were presented -- a small notepad folio made from football leather and embossed with the Peach Bowl logo.
It remains as one of the trophies of my career and one that will always hold a special place.
The Music City Bowl between Kentucky and Florida State took place on Dec. 31, 2007 and was the first time I had been to a college football game that I didn't have to write a story about in many years.
I think prior to that one it was an Indiana vs. Navy game in the 1980's.
Sean and I both have a common interest in the Florida State Seminoles. I used to listen to them on the radio when I was a kid growing up in Florida and he used to work on the campus.
So with the common tie between us, we set out on our first foray into things together as the "men of the family".
We started the day with breakfast near the stadium, which for those of you who don't know, sits in downtown Nashville.
After breakfast we drove around looking for a parking lot that wasn't so expensive that we would have to hock everything we had brought with us just to park.
After three or four trips around the area, we finally decided on a $20 lot within a short walk of the stadium.
Then came the next phase, keeping ourselves entertained until the kickoff.
That involved a trip to a pregame party sponsored by the local chapter of the FSU alumni. It cost us $10 each and included food and soft drinks. Good enough for us.
As we sat there watching some guy playing keyboard and listening to FSU alumni speak of the advantages of being a Nole, Sean and I realized just how chilly it was going to be that evening.
The temperature at game time was a lofty 55 degrees with a 17 mph wind blowing. So yes, in other words it was cold.
My son-in-law is probably the slimmest and lightest person I know. He weighs a total of 110 pounds and the Army wants him to gain weight.
Mix that with the cold temps and the fact that he's only about 5 feet 5 inches tall and you have one very interesting mix.
As the pregame unfolded we were entertained with both bands, fans from both schools and all of the pageantry that goes along with a bowl game.
As for the game itself, it proved to be quite interesting.
I got to see Bobby Bowden on the sidelines and Sean got to stand on his seat for the majority of the game.
Most fans stood up and that meant that Sean was forced to look over the top of them.
The tickets we had were on the field level in a corner, so you couldn't look down and see anything, you had to look out.
The game ended up being quite competitive as Kentucky defeated our Seminoles 35-28. We didn't stick around for the complete end, since it was getting ready to rain and the temperature had dipped into the 40's.
Instead we watched the last minute or so on the giant screen (which was visible from the street) as we walked back to the car and listened to the postgame show on the radio driving back to Ft. Campbell.
All in all it was a fairly good day and one that brought me just a little closer to the man who took my baby from me and gave me a lasting memory.
Now, as the Big Ten plans its inaugural championship game for Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium in 2011, I for one hope that it is a predecessor to a bowl in our own backyard.
Rick is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20. He can also be reached by e-mail at rcurl@gcdailyworld. com.
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