- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The tedious bowl season is mostly a farce delivered with a yawn, assuming you were not engrossed with the modest activities of the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., that showcased the grittiness of N.C. State and South Florida.

You have to be an idiot savant to know the names of the 28 bowls and a gambling addict to care about the outcome of maybe 25 of the games.

Or you could be Mel Kiper Jr., who spends most of the year committing to memory the height, weight and 40-yard dash time of the collegians before regurgitating it all during the NFL Draft.

The excellence of the bowl season has come to be defined as a 6-5 record, the spine-tingling mark of 10 of the 56 bowl participants.

The bowl season is mostly about sponsorships, universities receiving a nice check and athletic departments encouraging boosters and alumni to travel to the host city.

The Olympic-like bowl season contradicts the amusing notion of the NCAA that books come first. That is the NCAA’s first retort before the suggestion of a playoff system.

Yet there were 40 bowl teams that could have been spared the postseason practice and travel time and concentrated on their final exams instead.

Sorry. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl did not qualify as a must-see event.

The same with the Preparation-H Bowl, the Big Whopper Bowl and the John Deere Tractor Bowl.

The only event sillier than most of the bowl games is the weekly alter-ego foray of Clinton Portis, who is trying way too hard to be noticed.

ESPN is part of the bowl problem as well. ESPN’s producers apparently figure they can televise only so many poker matches and funny-looking sportswriters being muted in mid-sentence before they feel compelled to show a game.

So ESPN is more than happy to televise these meaningless endeavors with a straight face.

It was a big, big matchup between Memphis and Akron in the Motor City Bowl, if you recall.

That is what it is all about, where the men are separated from the boys and where turnovers are critical, just oh-so critical.

Speaking of the critical, Maurice Clarett enjoyed a cup of coffee in training camp with the Broncos last summer, and now he is charged with robbing two people with a gun in an alley behind a bar in Columbus, Ohio.

This is probably not the way to go if you are looking to resurrect one of the worst-managed football careers ever. Then again, Clarett would not be the pseudo-celebrity he is if he had a modicum of common sense. It is one thing to be part of the student-athlete sham. It is quite another thing to confirm it.

And if you are going to get into the robbery business — and let it be noted that Clarett is undoubtedly the victim of mistaken identity — why not knock off a jewelry store?

Clarett probably skipped that class at Ohio State.

At least we still have Marcus Vick to kick around, as kicking an opponent who is down is his latest brush with trouble.

“Unfortunate,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

It also was unfortunate that Vick flipped his middle finger to the fans of West Virginia in the fall. And it was incredibly unfortunate that Vick had to deal with reckless driving and marijuana possession charges in 2004.

Anyway, the overwrought bowl season comes to a close tonight, and, thankfully, this one is as good as it gets, as the undefeated football teams of Southern California and Texas vie for the national championship in the Rose Bowl.

This is at should be, a genuine national title game, lucky circumstance though it is in the present system.

All the nonsense has been concluded.

No Daffodil Bowl. No Macadamia Nut Bowl.

We now have two perfect teams, one Reggie Bush and the prospect of a classic.

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