DALLAS — This is a nice place to live. I know because I've done it. But you wouldn't want to visit here on New Year's Eve.
Once you've seen the JFK museum, South Fork, the hotel where Michael Irvin was arrested, the airport terminal where Barry Switzer was arrested and the apartment complex where Erik Williams was arrested, there's not much to do.
So I don't blame UCLA fans for choosing to stay home in Los Angeles and watch today's Cotton Bowl game on television, even if their failure to buy more than 3,000 or 4,000 tickets from the Bruins' allotment of 12,500 cost the athletic department about $150,000.
If UCLA had gone to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, that would be different.
Or if the Cotton Bowl game really meant something.
I remember when it did. Even if a national championship wasn't at stake, fans here enjoyed seeing the late, great Southwest Conference test its reputation as a powerful football conference against a highly ranked team from Florida or Pennsylvania or California.
Now that the predominant conference here is the Big 12, which stretches all the way to Iowa, defending the regional honor is hardly even a subplot.
Texas A&M fans, usually among the more rabid, are not much more enthusiastic about this game than UCLA's. The Aggies have sold only about 7,000 tickets, fewer than 1,000 to their students.
Cotton Bowl officials boldly predict a crowd of 60,000 but privately pray they will not be embarrassed by one of fewer than 50,000.
Blame the alliance.
In an attempt to save the bowls, the powers that be have neutered them. Only two this season--the Rose Bowl because of No. 1 Michigan and the Orange Bowl because of No. 2 Nebraska and No. 3 Tennessee--have much significance. Next season, when No. 1 vs. No. 2 is guaranteed in the Fiesta Bowl, only that game will be important.
"It shows a lot when college football gets to the point that if you're not playing for the national championship, [fans] don't go to the game," Florida State linebacker Daryl Bush said this week.
The Seminoles expect to sell fewer than 7,000 tickets from their allotment of 15,000 for tonight's Sugar Bowl game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have sold 13,000 tickets but still have 9,000 left, having agreed to a larger allotment in order to score an invitation to a lucrative alliance bowl.
A playoff is the only solution.
Include some bowls if they must be spared. For instance, match the top eight teams in four quarterfinal games at bowl sites on Jan. 1. Play the semifinals at two other bowl sites a week later, then let the winners meet at another for the championship the following week.
If No. 5 UCLA were playing in the Cotton Bowl today against No. 4 Florida State for the right to advance to the semifinals against the Rose Bowl winner, either No. 1 Michigan or No. 8 Washington State, a lot of Bruin and Seminole fans would have been knocking on Jock Ewing's door all week.
Cade McNown has memorized every Heisman Trophy winner. . . .
Tested the other day by a reporter, the UCLA quarterback was almost perfect. . . .
He forgot Mike Garrett. . . .
John Robinson should be so lucky. . . .
If questions he has received this week from the media are an indicator, McNown is auditioning today for next year's Heisman run. . . .
"I'm not blown away by it," he said of the Heisman talk. . . .
He pointed out that his hero, Joe Montana, didn't win it. . . .
"It's not the mark of a man, trust me," McNown said. . . .
UCLA players wear decals on their helmets in honor of Wojciechowiez Wojtkiewiez, their longtime unofficial practice field manager who died of a heart on Nov. 7. . . .
The decals say "WOW," short for his nickname Bow Wow. . . .
That's against NCAA rules, as Texas A&M found out this week when it wanted to similarly honor former Aggie linebacker Reggie Brown. . . .
The Aggies shouldn't have asked permission. UCLA didn't. . . .
Texas A&M Coach R.C. Slocum was bucked off a mechanical bull at a Cotton Bowl party Tuesday night. . . .
From the look on his face, it was still more enjoyable than answering all those questions about his firing of Toledo as the Aggies' offensive coordinator four years ago.
While wondering if Tom Osborne would receive the sentimental vote for No. 1, I was thinking: It's a moot point when Washington State wins the Rose Bowl and Nebraska wins the Orange; I like UCLA, Florida State, Auburn, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia in the others.