BY VIN CAPPIELLO, ballino.blogspot.com contributor
Is anyone (besides me) watching the early bowl games? You know, the ones that ESPN is careful to selectively telecast through a limited number of cameras and no blimp shots in order to hide the fact that the stadium, like the pessimist’s glass of water, isn’t just half empty. It’s dead … as a doornail. No overhead view revealing the nothingness below. Cameras only pointing at the 50-yard-line crowd, purposefully avoiding shots of the empty upper deck. Sad. Very said.
Or is it?
Seventy-two teams make a bowl game. No doubt, this explains why lifelong Wyoming Cowboy fans are crazy enough to drive for two full days to Albuquerque to endure a lashing by the mighty Owls of Temple, only to turn around and drive straight home. Attendance: 25, 762. Payout: $750,000 per team.
At least the Utah State Aggie fans had the chance to drive only five hours up to Boise to watch their beloved WAC also-rans lose to the Mid-American Conference runner-up Ohio Bobcats, coached by deposed Husker headman Frank Solich. Attendance: 28, 076. Payout: $750,000 per team.
And finally, let us not forget the always-competitive Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (formerly the St. Petersburg Bowl), which the Thundering Herd of Marshall won over the might-as-well-have-been-playing-at-home Florida International Panthers. You remember these guys … they were on the receiving end of a literal beating at the hands of the Miami Hurricane-Convicts a few years back. Attendance: 20,072. Payout: $1 million per team.
Let’s compare these three blockbusters (hey, whatever happened to the Blockbuster Bowl?) to say, the granddaddy of ‘em all, the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Vizio. Jan. 2. Oregon versus Wisconsin. Pac 12 versus Big 10. Savvy versus strength. Two top 10 teams. Attendance: 100,00-plus. Payout: $22.3 million per team.