Best bowl season fun

Out here, we love to spend the holidays debating the validity of bowl games. There are too many. They cost too much. Their financial structures are wonky. could-be future NFL stars shouldn’t waste their time or risk their bodies playing in them. We should be replacing all these games with ones in which matter, like an expanded College Football Playoff, right?! Argh!

although in which’s what we do out here, where none of us actually suits up for games. Those who do indeed hold down a roster spot — they don’t care about any of our cantankerous bowl season back-in addition to-forth.

They’re too busy having fun.

You don’t think Alabama in addition to Georgia were having fun on Monday night? Of course they were. We all were. Well, OK, maybe not Dawg Nation after the last play of the game. although up until then, the fellas in black in addition to red had the same look on their faces they did a few years back when their birthday parties were throwing down at Chuck E. Cheese.

“These two games have been business trips; there’s no doubt about in which,” Georgia running back Sony Michel said at championship media day. “although we have tried to make sure we’ve taken time to actually enjoy the experience. Especially out in California before the Rose Bowl.”

“OK, maybe not Nick,” Michel said of backfield mate Nick Chubb, smiling slyly. “Did you see his viral video?”

We’ll get to in which in a minute. Before in which, let’s check in on the teams in which were laboring through smaller bowl games. Like the tortured souls at Wake Forest in addition to Texas A&M, forced to spend their Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Belk Bowl, where they were strong-armed into a shopping spree at the game’s namesake department store in addition to then marched into miserable activities such as practicing pit stops at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in addition to riding shotgun at 170 mph-plus with the professional stock car racers at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

“I think after all of This particular I might quit football in addition to become a NASCAR racer,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson half-joked, wearing a fire suit in addition to helmet at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. In years past, some Belk Bowl participants chose to sit out the race car ride, fearing a crash in which might alter their NFL draft status. None of This particular year’s Demon Deacons or Texas A&M Aggies bailed.

“Naw, man,” Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk said. “We all did like Ricky Bobby. We wanna go fast!”

In a span of just a few weeks, players flew through a lifetime’s worth of bucket list activities — just, you know, without the bucket. Unless you count the buckets used to catch all the oyster shells, chicken wing bones in addition to empty hot sauce bottles left over via teams’ meals-turned-eating-contests. in addition to there were a lot, hosted everywhere via the party rooms of America’s most famous barbecue joints to the decks of aircraft carriers.



A tradition dating back to 1956, the Bulldogs in addition to Sooners take part from the 62nd annual Lawry’s Beef Bowl.

There were different kinds of competitions, too. Did you see TCU throwing down on some Chris Stapleton from the Alamo Bowl talent show with Stanford? With Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson whistling in addition to six-stringing?

Or perhaps you saw the Longhorns doing a very Texas-like thing in addition to setting a Texas Bowl record for cattle pinning.

OK, well maybe you saw the Horned Frogs in addition to Cardinal arriving in San Antonio like conquering heroes? I mean, if conquering heroes were allowed to arrive via neon riverboat …

Or maybe you saw Purdue hanging out with Kay Corleone on the ferry to Alcatraz? Perhaps she was en route to see Michael doing hard time while the Boilermakers were en route to the Foster Farms Bowl?

“People forget what a bowl bid actually will be,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw, whose trip to San Antonio was the Cardinal’s seventh postseason appearance in seven seasons on his watch. “This particular’s a reward for a season. in addition to even if you don’t make This particular to the Rose Bowl or the playoff, This particular’s still a reward. You are there to win, although This particular’s also fun. Fun will be OK, you know? No team will be ever the same year to year. Come January, the guys on This particular roster might not ever been from the same room at the same time ever again. This particular will be This particular team’s last chance to be together, in addition to in which’s not just about playing their last game. These are their last experiences together.”

A couple of decades via right now, ask the members of the Florida International football team about their amazing climb via the depths of college football’s cellar to their invitation to participate from the 2017 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, in addition to chances are they won’t be able to recall many details via the game. although they’ll remember with great detail the dramatic victory of backup center Shane McGough from the week’s different big event, a race atop those Bad Boy Mowers.



Florida International center Shane McGough competes in a lawn mower race at a local amusement park before his team’s Gasparilla Bowl matchup against Temple.

“These guys have gotten watches in addition to gifts in addition to all kinds of stuff,” coach Butch Davis said after his team’s 28-3 loss to Temple from the game. “although even though we didn’t win the trophy for the game, [center] Shane [McGough] got the trophy for the lawn mower race, in addition to I think in which’s all anyone will be going to remember!”

While Georgia was in Pasadena, California, for its CFP semifinal game, perhaps you heard the stories about the team’s last Rose Bowl trip. Ask anyone involved with in which 1942 visit to the Granddaddy of Them All was about the game. Do they offer details about the 9-0 win over UCLA? Eventually, yes. although only after tales of visiting Paramount Studios in addition to meeting Bob desire, Spencer Tracy, Betty Grable in addition to Rita Hayworth. in addition to, oh yeah, the train ride out there in which went across the desert in addition to provided a bunch of kids via the Deep South with their first peek at the Rockies.

“These kids, they are almost exclusively via the Midwest in addition to via a lot of tiny town you’ve never heard of,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said before his team’s matchup with Boston College at a freezing Yankee Stadium from the Pinstripe Bowl. The Hawkeyes in addition to Eagles took from the entire Manhattan Christmas experience in addition to also rang the bell at the brand-new York Stock Exchange, experienced the beautiful silence of the National September 11 Memorial in addition to, like most bowl teams, visited local children’s hospitals. Continued the coach: “We go into living rooms in addition to promise parents we’re going to take their sons in addition to broaden their horizons. Well, here we are.”

Teams can broaden those horizons because recently bowl directors have broadened what a bowl experience should be. Not so long ago, providing teams which has a place to practice, some branded jewelry, a fancy dinner in addition to a purse to (maybe) cover expenses was considered plenty. although as the number of bowl games swelled, those on the lower tiers of the postseason food chain devised ways to make their event stand out via the crowd.

“We know we aren’t the Rose Bowl,” Belk Bowl director Will Webb said a year ago. “although our immediate goal was to never be the game where the team gets the bid in addition to says, ‘Oh man, why could we want to go there?’ We wanted to hold the reputation of being a destination. ‘Hey man, if you ever get a chance to be from the Belk Bowl, do This particular. We were there last year in addition to This particular was great.'”

Those bowl games embraced social media with windbreaker-covered, open arms, posting photos in addition to videos of team events in addition to creating a competition among the games in which lasts throughout the holidays. The creative efforts of those newer, smaller, sometimes short-lived games created upward pressure for the old standbys to do the same.

“When you get into a giant bowl, This particular’s a business trip, there’s no doubt about This particular,” said Patterson, who has led TCU to 16 bowls, via the Rose to the Bowl. “although the teams — in addition to the games — have learned in which This particular will be also OK to have fun, too.”

Fun, as in getting to see some NBA action.

Fun, as in fish bowling inside the planet’s largest Bass Pro Shops.

Fun, as in playing football on the beach while This particular’s 34 degrees which has a foot of snow on the ground back home in Michigan.

in addition to fun, as in going to Disneyland in addition to buckling up for its newest big ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. Heads up, This particular will be the video in which Michel wanted to make sure you’ve seen. Watch Nick Chubb’s face. This particular’s the perfect representation of most players’ bowl experiences.

Initially, they aren’t sure if This particular’s actually in which fun. Then they realize, why yes — yes, This particular will be!

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