Whew, the waiting's about over. Today's the day. Bowl bids are upon us. Finally, we'll find out if the Fiesta Bowl, among others, will want Miami and Penn State, whether they'll go so far as to extend those teams bids. And, within days of their consideration, we'll find out how the teams feel about it.
See, Nov. 22 is the earliest bowls can issue bids, which is why everything is so up in the air right now. No way anything can be arranged beforehand. That's why the bowl lineups are such a mystery.
On the other hand, we can't quite explain why every sports section in the country has published the pairings, why Miami and Penn State have already been scheduled for prime-time TV Jan. 2. Because these things are supposed to be up in the air. Right?
Technically they are up in the air, even though Miami has already pledged itself to the Fiesta Bowl, with complicated enough clauses in the agreement to make a lawyer green with envy. The NCAA is strict about this. No invitations, formal or informal, until Nov. 22.
But doesn't the Fiesta-Miami meeting, at which the bowl promised a prime-time venue and at which Miami accepted, sound at least informal?
"It's something to find out," said Bob Minnix of the NCAA bowl committee, a fellow who presumably still believes in Santa Claus, the student-athlete and other myths of our time. "From what I hear, that comes awfully close to the rule. You're not the first to tell me about it."
The person who does something about it, however, will be the first. "The bowls are on their honor to some degree," he said. "This (Nov. 22) is the date they all agreed they can live with."
So. Wonder what Miami's going to do.
What makes a bowl game best? Team records? Rivalries?
How about fans who travel.
"Last year, we had two great teams," said A.F. Dudley, executive director of the Liberty Bowl. "We had LSU and they were 9-1-1, and we had Baylor and they were like 8-3. And we had 38,000 people in the (50,180 seat) stadium."
Consequently, Dudley is trying to do right by considering teams like Minnesota (6-4); Kentucky (5-4-1), and Tennessee (4-5) for the Memphis bowl. These teams' fans have reputations as travelers. "As long as we have 50,000 seats and no sun and sand, we have to be different," Dudley said.
"When we go after a team with a great record, we get a reluctant bride. LSU felt like they should have been in the Sugar Bowl last year and they brought 5,000 or 6,000 people. A team that is happy to be in any bowl game is going to bring a lot of fans."
Kevin Sweeney, of the Fresno Sweeneys, will go for the record book tonight.
Throwing Kevin, son of coaching Jim, needs 173 yards passing in Fresno State's Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. game against Utah State to move ahead of Doug Flutie and into first place in passing yardage for a college career. Flutie threw for 10,579 yards when he was that cute little guy at Boston College.
Son of Boz: Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh scandalized his teammates when he went out on a limb and "guaranteed" that his team would beat Ohio State today and be in Pasadena. This passes for outspoken in the Big Ten.
"Guaranteed?" teammate Andy Moeller gasped when told of Harbaugh's statement. "I'm glad he's on my side." Then Moeller grinned. "Hey, all quarterbacks have got to have some cockiness in them."
Meanwhile, the genuine article, Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth, is chiding his quarterback for lameness in the bulletin board department. Jamelle Holieway predicted that Oklahoma would beat Nebraska by 23-3 or worse today.
Said the Boz: "He gave them three points? That's his problem."
College Football Notes
Augustana College, unbeaten in 46 games, plays Hope College this week to begin Division III playoffs. Augustana has won this thing three straight times. . . . Emory Ballard, former coach at Texas A&M and Mississippi State, is going after the Houston job that Bill Yeoman just resigned. . . . Purdue is looking for a coach to replace Leon Burtnett and asked for permission to talk to North Carolina Coach Dick Crum. Crum, whose Tar Heels are 6-3-1 and needing a win to play in a bowl game, said: "I haven't been sitting at home waiting for them to call." . . . Penn State is lacking a little punch. Although it remains invincible, the second-ranked Nittany Lions have failed to score a rushing touchdown in 21 quarters. Coach Joe Paterno, meanwhile, is trying desperately to pump his team for the Pitt game today. "They're probably the best defensive team we'll play up to this point," he said of the Panthers (5-4-1).