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• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud

Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

December 23, 2007

Throughout Bowl Season, I'll be hitting you with my 'Bowl Bites' on the games that matter ...and the plenty that don't. Here's part one - look out for more as the days go by.

Bowl Bites: The House That Howard Built

Florida Atlantic's rise has been as incredible as it has been unpublicized. Unless you live or have lived in the vicinity of Boca Raton, you probably wouldn't even have known the Owls existed more than three years ago. Seven years ago, the university didn't even have a football team. Yet this week FAU went from inception to bowl victory faster than any team in 1–A history, as baby–faced passer Rusty Smith set a New Orleans Bowl record with 5 touchdowns to upset Utah.

It made for an entertaining late night fixture, if only to see Howard Schnellenberger standing on the sidelines, looking every inch the legend he is. The nose, the tache, the suit – Coach Schnellenberger has been a semi–mythical creature for those of us who have known him only through football's history books (I think I'm right in saying this was the first time he has ever been seen on UK television).

There is something timeless about his 'old campaigner' appearance, like some historical general translated for the 20th century. Yes, the 20th, not the 21st. He still seemed just a little out of place on the screen there, projected into the digital age with the incongruity of seeing a unicorn on a nature program.

Some people might have thought he had retired, or at 73 years old, passed on to that great sideline in the sky. But no, Howard's been busy, building a program from scratch, recruiting, recruiting, recruiting in the richest recruiting ground in the nation, and writing a new chapter, a new legacy. And, while he's at it, reminding us that he was part of the national picture once ...and may be again, before he's through, because with FSU and Miami struggling, there's a much more egalitarian spread of talent available between the numerous Florida colleges, and like Bobby Bowden and Urban Meyer, Howard Schnellenberger can walk into a kid's home and say 'I know how to win the big one, and I can put you in a bowl game'.

The New Orleans Bowl might not be the biggest bowl game in the world, but then Coach might not be finished yet. With a regular season game scheduled against Texas next year, he's just getting started.

The quarterback's Rusty. The coach isn't.

Bowl Bites: Seven In A Row For Utes

Three thoughts struck me from this bowl season opener:

(1) I would love to see Kaipo–Noa Kaheaku–Enhada air the ball out more often — lord knows, Navy establish the run more than enough, and that late score to Zerbin Singleton came when Utah was expecting it;

(2) Is Ken Niumatalolo really that hard a name to pronounce, considering the name of their quarterback? I particularly enjoyed the cadet who, when prompted to attempt his name, just stared blankly for ten seconds before failing to even try. Yuh, let's not fast–track that guy's promotion;

(3) How long will Coach Kyle Whittingham stay in Utah? Urban Meyer's success post–Utah has proven that the Utes program is based on sound football, not just another wacky small–conference setting, and that the coaching does translate to the big conferences.

Bowl Bites: A Slice Of The Action

Considering Southern Mississippi versus Cincinnati is a hard enough sell, why did ESPN feel the need to have the Papa John's founder in the booth to give a five minute interview about the pizza business? Yes, I realize that Papa John's are sponsoring the papajohns.com bowl, but this level of penetration is a jarring invasion into the broadcast.

We get 'papajohns.com' at the top of the screen throughout the game, there's a cut–away to images of a pizza being made, and we get a five minute interview with the guy from Papa John's. And this is during the second quarter while the first scoring drive is underway.

You know what? I don't care about this papajohns.com bowl. The match–up is about as appetizing as cheese and tomato without the toppings, there isn't a Papa John's in my town, and I'm not actually watching it. It's on right now and I'm in here writing this.

Bowl Bites: Saturday Night Lobotomy

Next up on this exciting schedule: Wolf Pack versus Lobos in the imaginatively named New Mexico Bowl. Nevada doesn't even have a winning record, and the average schedule strength of the two teams this year is 108th.

New Mexico broke a 46–year bowl drought, but seeing as they were effectively playing the game at home, their far from fascinating 23–0 victory over Nevada hardly felt that special. When those who argue against a playoff speak of the pageantry, occasion and tradition of college bowl games this probably isn't what they have in mind.

Bowl Bites: BYU Avenges UCLA Loss in Las Vegas

I'll admit that 25,000 Mormons descending upon Sin Central appeals to my sense of irony, but they came with a purpose: converting the memory of a 17–27 loss into a retaliatory win against a Bruins team rallying around interim head coach DeWayne Walker (go on, give him the job!).

BYU isn't the typical mid–major all–offense deal, but a team that got shut–out through the second half yet still won thanks to defense and, at the last, special teams. With most of the starters back next season (exception: that secondary full of former walk–ons), this is starting to look like a team with ambitions beyond the Mountain West, where they have now gone 8–0 in back to back seasons.


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