Football loyalties torn between several teams

College & University Football games generally start in August and end mostly with Bowl games early in January of the following year, ending earlier for the teams not involved in championship or bowl games.

Professional football games extend over a little longer time beginning with pre-season games and ending generally with the Super Bowl in February.

I am only an on-again, off-again fan of various college teams in Division I. Being from Ohio and having taken a couple of classes at Ohio State University, I would cheer the Buckeyes on if I happened to be watching a game in which they were a part. Similarly, having lived in Nebraska and taken classes at the University of Nebraska, I would also cheer the Cornhuskers.

The University of Minnesota, being both my current home state and the place where I have lived most of my life and also having attended classes on the Mpls. campus, I favor them. That means that my loyalties are torn whenever two of those three happen to compete against one another.

I do have one further connection to Ohio State. Many of you will likely remember Woody Hayes who head-coached Ohio State for 25 years beginning in 1951. His record for win-loss-ties was 205-61-10. That included three national championships (1954, 1957, 1968) and 10 Big Ten titles.

The connection is that Woody was a graduate of my University alma mater, Denison University, where he was a letter-winning tackle on the Big Red football team in the mid-1930s. He had served in WWII in both the Atlantic and Pacific operations. He also was a winning head coach of Miami University (Ohio). Info about Woody was from Denison Univ.

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Enough of my life history. I happened to think about football stuff when I turned on the TV on Saturday while I was having lunch and happened upon the Jared (think jewelry) Birmingham Bowl game between Memphis (8-5) and Wake Forest (6-6).

My immediate thought was that there are now so many bowl games that there is a need to use non-winning teams (like this year’s Wake Forest) in some bowls. Wikipedia mentions five years as exceptions before 2010 in which one non-winning team played, 1945, 1963, 1970 and 2001. In 2010 the criteria changed to allow more non-winning teams to play. In the 2016-17 season there were 20 teams with non-winning records that played in bowl games.

The Birmingham Bowl is played at Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama. The bowl game was Papa John’s Bowl from 2006 to 2010, BBVA Compass Bowl from 2011 to 2014, Birmingham Bowl from 2015 to 2017, and this year became the Jared Birmingham Bowl.

Wikipedia indicates the 2006 attendance was before a “crowd” of 32,023. It is a little hard for me to think of that as being a crowd when the stadium seats over 71,000. Furthermore, the 2016 attendance was 31,229 and was down to 28,623 for 2017. That declining trend is evident in the aggregate of all 40 such bowl games with the past seven season averages of all games steadily downward. The average was 41,718 in 2016 and 40508 in 2017. Twenty-five of the 40 bowl games were down. (Info on attendance information came from the Orlando Sentinel.)

The College Football Poll website is where you can find information on payouts for various bowl games. For example, the Birmingham bowl is paying out $1,650,000 for the teams and the teams’ conferences. That seems like an enormous amount when compared to the empty seats as mentioned above, i.e. less than half of the seats in the stadium were filled. So where does the money come from if not solely from attendees? Why sponsors of course, including the tv network that secures ads and such.

Minnesota (6-6) will be playing in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, Michigan against Georgia Tech (7-5). The payout for that game, as I understand it, is $750,000. It is probably too late now to get to the game if you are still here to read the Independent newspaper. This past weekend, however, the ticket price range was $13 to $2,893 usually on three levels, with level 3 being the least expensive seats, level 2 including an expensive area of club room seating.

For comparison, the Rose Bowl game ticket range is $91 to $92,690. Possibly the highest number is for an entire club room – I did not do any research to find out any more details. Seemed a little bit much (actually way out of my price range – not just the larger value, but even the smaller value!) From the Ticket City website, I did find that I could get some cheaper grandstand seats for the Rose Parade. That price range was just $58 to $300.

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Instead of watching that Birmingham Bowl game last Saturday with Memphis against Wake Forest, I got busy doing some of the research using the computer and also managed to grab a bit to eat for lunch, but I did come back to the game with a little over a minute to go. Memphis had the lead of 34 to 30. But in just 40 some seconds, Wake Forest got the ball and with about 20 seconds to go scored to make the game 34 to 37 in Wake Forest’s favor.

With those few seconds to go, Wake Forest did a short line drive kick-off that gave Memphis possession. Memphis got down within about 20 yeards of the goal, but then was penalized so that on their fourth down they kicked for a field goal to tie the game. The kick just missed the side of the goal posts in the last second to give the 34 to 37 win to Wake Forest. I guess that proves a game can be exciting even if not played by two powerhouse teams. Go Minnesota!

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!

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