Bowl me over

The fun of football bowl season is upon us

By Marc Katz

As a fledgling sports writer, I used to think covering bowl games would be a lot of fun.

They were, if you weren’t just looking to get a sun tan.

Bowl games were created by cities looking for publicity, trying to make money, and sometimes luring fans of the participating teams to stick around, adding to their tax-collecting resident base.

I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, this was never about the competition. The Rose Bowl Parade is older than the game itself.

(As long as we’re talking about the Rose Bowl, what happened to it this year? It used to be the Granddaddy of them all, played on New Year’s Day, 5 p.m. Eastern time. Even if Northwestern was playing, you had to watch.)

Oh, this note just in. The Rose Bowl is (was) one of the semifinal playoff games this year, meaning it still held that coveted 5 p.m. New Year’s Day slot, but wasn’t the game you waited all year to see. Nothing wrong with Oklahoma/Georgia, except it sounds like an overly-hyped early September game rather than the Rose Bowl.

Anyway, these bowl games bring out the fans, and the media.

In my bowl-attending days, the media meant plenty of newspapers along with teams of television and radio reporters.

Interview times were scrums. Often, reporters had to run after players exiting closed practice fields, conducting quick interviews next to smoke-belching busses waiting to take the players to some other local function.

By my count, I attended 18 bowl games with Ohio State and one with Miami, most of them in Florida and California, with a few others scattered here and there.

I thought the best place to go would be the Rose Bowl, but it wasn’t.

Of course I loved going to Los Angeles, especially in the dead of winter. It was warm out there. The sun was shining. The movie stars…okay, I saw as many movie stars in Los Angeles as I did in Dayton, all on the silver screen. Where do those people buy groceries? Oh, they don’t. They pay somebody to grocery shop for them.

Although the three-hour time difference created a deadline problem, at least you could get the scores in the paper, which doesn’t happen today. One mistake my wife and I made on our first Rose Bowl trip was to go to the Rose Parade—a must, even if you can’t get a dandelion growing in your front yard.

The Rose Parade is the only one I can think of that you can see and smell. Delightful. What isn’t delightful is getting up at 4 a.m. to get to the viewing stand. If it starts at 9 a.m. in Dayton, it’s just 6 a.m. in Los Angeles. Factoring in an hour’s drive to get to the starting location, you get a long day.

On the positive side, the Rose Bowl Committee made every interview an event and at some posh place such as the Wrigley Mansion that the usual scruffy sports writers would never be invited to otherwise.

That was fine, especially since every interview venue came complete with a food table, and we’re not talking just snacks. I won’t say anymore since my wife might read this. I never told her about the food.

Anyway, these interview venues were miles and miles apart. It would take you an hour and a half to get there and an hour and a half to get back, and there went your walk on the beach, which wouldn’t happen anyway since we never stayed near the beach.

Spoiler alert: one place we stayed was in a suburb city called, The City of Industry. What do you think that was like? I mean the city. The hotel was great…as long as you didn’t leave your room or the lobby.

And, by the way, even going out on your own to a pharmacy or a fast food place was not a stroll in the park in the Los Angeles area. I think there’s this rule. Places you want to go must be at least 15 miles from other places you want to go. And the highways to get there will be crammed the entire way.

That wasn’t the case with a couple Fiesta Bowls I attended. Those were held in Scottsdale, chock-a-bloc with Phoenix. Every fast food place selling chips was within a 15-minute drive, as were all the turquoise shops. I don’t think there’s a piece of turquoise left in my house, but it sounded and looked neat at the time.

Now there’s a place that knows how to merge warm weather with convenience.

As for the games themselves, we sometimes gripe about having two weeks between the last NFL playoff game and the Super Bowl.

How about structuring the bowl games to be played about a month after the last regular-season game? College teams don’t just practice for the upcoming game, but the upcoming season, finding the extra practices just what they need to get redshirt freshmen ready to play.

I’m not even going to tell you about the two Liberty Bowls I attended. They were played in Memphis.

Even if you loved the music, it was tough to get around the weather.


Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at

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