Nationals

Column: Are you ready for some bowls?! We aren't

201211302237814306782-p2.jpeg

Column: Are you ready for some bowls?! We aren't

This college football bowl season is like a brand of Chex Mix that comes with a bunch of nuts you don't really care to eat.

Sure, there's a handful of enticing matchups that are worthy of your time for three or so hours. But by the time you're done picking through to the good ones, you realize there's not much left.

Well, there are other things to do this holiday season.

Like, go ice skating.

Or, check out all the pretty lights.

Whatever it is, there's never been a better reason to spend some time - some real quality time - with your friends and family.

Believe us, you won't be missing a thing if you tune out what will soon be running virtually nonstop on your plasma screen, in all its high-def ugliness. This is nothing more than a bunch of meaningless contests between mediocre teams, a lineup that that makes ``Honey Boo Boo'' look like ``Downton Abbey.''

Call it Must-Miss TV.

The guys who run the system clearly take us as nothing but a bunch of suckers, willing to watch whatever drivel they put before us as long they attach the word ``bowl'' to some product they're pushing.

When the complete list of bowls was finally unveiled in all its glory Sunday night, most of the attention turned to Northern Illinois, a team that somehow made the Orange Bowl after losing to Iowa (which won 33 percent of its games) and barely beating Army and Kansas (who combined for a grand total of three victories).

But let's not take out our wrath on the ... uh, hmmm ... whatever their nickname is. We should actually be saluting the MAC champs, because they're like a single minnow swimming ahead bravely to take on the BCS sharks, all while making an already ludicrous system look even sillier.

Besides, there's plenty of bowl games that are far more objectionable than the one in Miami between the Seminoles of Florida State and the ... uh, hmm ... oh yeah, the Huskies, that's it, of Northern Illinois.

The good folks of El Paso will be subjected to a Sun Bowl featuring a team with a losing record (Georgia Tech) and perhaps the most underachieving squad in all the land (USC).

The Yellow Jackets (6-7) needed a waiver from the NCAA before they could accept their invitation. The Trojans lost five times after starting the season at No. 1.

``We're excited about a very good bowl and a great matchup,'' said USC coach Lane Kiffin, who we can only assume awoke the next morning to find his nose had grown by a foot or two.

But, who knows, maybe one of Kiffin's minions will go all rogue again and deflate the tires on the team buses. That way, they can't leave their hotels and no one would have to be subjected to such a marquee matchup.

Though, we must say, this game might have some car-crash appeal if held in conjunction with a Kiffin family reunion. The bratty coach already dumped his 72-year-old dad because of the team's defensive woes, and he surely would be willing to jettison a few more relatives if the Trojans lost again.

Georgia Tech, meanwhile, was blown out at home by Middle Tennessee, lost its final regular-season game by 32 points and wound up with a losing record after getting into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by default, the next team in line after Miami decided to spend another postseason in self-imposed lockdown.

Even after losing the ACC game, the Yellow Jackets still got the call that extended their bowl streak to 16 years in a row.

Talk about an achievement worthy of an asterisk.

But, this isn't about one particular school. There's plenty of averageness to go around.

A dozen teams received bowl bids with records of 6-6, which is often the sort of mark that gets a coach fired, not earns his team a trip at the holidays. (Or, in the case of Purdue, was bowl-worthy AND got the coach fired).

In fact, there are two games matching a pair of 6-6 teams - Rice vs Air Force in the Armed Services Bowl at Fort Worth (sorry, our men and women in uniform) and Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Birmingham.

When those kind of teams get together, they're hoping you throw out the record book.

Instead, you should change the channel.

Yet, none of the 35 bowls could find a spot for Louisiana Tech, the highest-scoring team in the country, a squad that won nine times and barely lost to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

The Bulldogs apparently weren't too thrilled about the idea of going to the nearby Independence Bowl to dance with another team from their own state (Louisiana-Monroe). They thought they had might get a call from someone more handsome. The Independence was all, like, why you disrespectin' us, girlfriend? So they called up Ohio (University, not State), which said ``yes.''

``Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game,'' Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. ``It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way.''

No, the real shame is that college football ends its season this way.

We're promised a playoff in 2014, but we should see through that four-team ruse. It's a way to silence everyone who wants a legitimate playoff (16 teams, minimum) and keep alive the bowl system, nothing more than a nonprofit scam lining the pockets of its operators with exorbitant salaries for the taxing job of putting on one game a year.

Maybe if the fans stop watching, there will be a true playoff.

Maybe if the fans stop buying tickets, all these meaningless games will wither up and die.

There's no better time to start than now.

Happy Bowl Season!

Now, go do something else.

---

Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.or or www.twitter.com

Quick Links

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Who will the Caps play in their first playoff series? The round robin, explained.

Who will the Caps play in their first playoff series? The round robin, explained.

Before the season pause, the Caps were in danger of falling down the standings. Now they could claim the top spot in the east.
 
When the NHL paused its season on March 12, the Capitals held just a one-point lead in the Metropolitan Division and trailed the conference-leading Boston Bruins by 10 points.

The Bruins held an almost insurmountable lead atop the conference and the Philadelphia Flyers were one of the hottest teams in the league. At that point, Washington looked more likely to drop in the standings than to climb. With the NHL’s new 24-team playoff format for the 2019-20 season, however, the Caps will have three games to possibly claim the top spot in the east.
 
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday the league’s return to play plan including the 24-team playoff format.

Washington, as one of the top four teams in the conference, will get a bye to the first round of the playoffs and not have to play in the play-in round. Instead, the Caps will play a round-robin tournament against the other top seeds in the conference: Boston, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. The winner of that round robin will determine the seeds for the playoffs.
 
The inclusion of a round-robin has some fans a bit confused as it is not something seen in a normal season so let’s break it down.
 
First off, you can throw out the current seeding for the top four teams. The regular season records determined who the top four teams are, but that is it. They no longer matter. The round robin is a clean slate for those four teams. Washington will play each of the other teams once and regular season rules will apply. That means there will not be continuous overtime in a tie game, but instead it will go to five minutes of three-on-three followed by a shootout.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST



What this means is that Boston, despite being the presumptive Presidents’ Trophy winner, could fall all the way down to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The Caps, meanwhile, could claim the top spot in the conference with a strong showing in the round robin.
 
Why did the NHL do this? Bettman went into this in a video conference with the media after the initial announcement. Basically, this is an acknowledgment that the top teams need to play competitive games before playing against a team that had to win a playoff series just to get there.
 
What will be the reward for earning the top seed? It is not yet clear.
 
It has not yet been determined if the teams will be reseeded after the play-in round or if the playoff will be a bracket throughout. This could be significant depending on the upsets we see in the play-in round. For example, a bracket would set up for the No. 4 team to play the winner of the series between the No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins and the No. 12 Montreal Canadiens. If Montreal pulls off the upset as the lowest seed, that would give the No. 4 seed the best matchup on paper in the next round while the No. 1 seed would be playing either the No. 8 or 9 seed.
 
As one of the top seeds, the Caps will finish no lower than No. 4 in the conference but could potentially finish No. 1.

But we are still a long way off from determining who Washington will play in their first playoff series.
 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: