TIME: US | UK
WEATHER: US | UK
THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE ONLINE
Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• 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
BOWL BITES 3 AND COMMUNICATIONS BREAKDOWN
My third batch of Bowl Season 'Bowl Bites' follow a seasonal rant: just let me watch my football!.
Back in the good ol' days of the 1980s — long before college football was accessible even through a stinging monthly channel fee — following anything other than the NFL was something of a challenge. If you knew what AFN was, you could, sometimes, pick out some scratchy coverage of the NCAA radio coverage if you used the right radio held at the precise rotation in the right room at the optimal time of the night (it didn't work in daylight). Patience and dedication were required. Obsession bordering mania was also required.
During this week's Holiday Bowl, I was flung back to those days of frustrated reception. My sports media hub here in the wilds of North Dorset, England, is not without a little atmospheric susceptibility this time of year, and with the rain lashing and a mild gale raging from a particular direction satellite coverage reverts quickly to a blue screen and a technical apology. Usually, this mild Gale tries not to rage too hard at his television under such conditions, and the situation passes with the next swirling wind.
On Thursday night, however, channels were falling faster than teenage victims in a cheap hollywood slasher movie. By halfway through the first quarter — and with my computer informing me that Texas had already scored twice — not only had NASN and its Setanta friends blanked out, but even the likes of BBC2 and ITV were shrugging at me, leaving a viewing choice that amounted to not much more than BBC1's 1970s film du jour, The Two Ronnies on UKTV Repeat, Welsh Assembly highlights on BBC Parliament, Playboy preview, and a permanent loop of Catherine Tate saying 'Am I bovvered?'. Oh, how I laughed. [Editor's note: for those of you reading this elsewhere than Great Britain, don't worry about not understanding these references, just count yourselves very, very lucky.]
Attempts to follow the game through online radio were similarly thwarted. Even though I'm a subscriber to Yahoo! radio coverage, our Windows/Explorer machine seems to have developed a permanent error when trying to pick up the stream, and the Mac is presently in a no–mans' land somewhere between Panther and the Leopard upgrade that is somewhere in the post (why can't I just download it, Apple?), which will, in turn, allow me to upgrade from Safari 1.5 to Safari 3.0, thus allowing me to...
You know what? I shouldn't have to think about any of this.
All we really want at the end of the working day, is to pay somebody some money to make football appear. Weather–resistant, technology–resistant, version–resistant FOOTBALL ...just there, at the end of the living room.
This week, it very nearly wasn't just North Dorset that suffered such problems. With the New England Patriots bearing down on a 16–0 season and only the New York Giants standing in their way, it looked for a long while as if similar frustration was going to descend on much of the USA. With the NFL Network available through cable to only around 40% of the American mainland, it seemed that the UK was going to view the game easier than the USA. However, disgruntled American lawmakers made threatening noises at the NFL, and the game will now be simulcast on CBS and NBC.
"It will be like the State of the Union address," joked Bill Belichick, "You can flip to every channel and see it."
We don't get the State of the Union address in North Dorset, by the way.
Bowl Bites: A touching moment for Mack Brown's step–son
After a few wires had been tugged and replugged, boxes booted, and cards reinserted, adequate TV service was eventually restored in time to witness THE event of the Holiday Bowl: Mack Brown's step–son Chris Jesse, stepping onto the field during a play and getting flagged for interference with a live ball.
Jesse, it should be noted, is sideline staff, not a player.
The penalty not only nullified a sack, a fumble, a turnover recovered by Texas, but set up a touchdown pass by Arizona State that got them back into the game at 21–7 when 28–0 had been on the cards.
Chris Jesse did his best to look stoic, but under excruciatingly prolonged media focus, the young man would have been forgiven for having a sniffle and his choice of emotions looked like a close call. The 'touching' penalty was a close call too. For my money, I'm convinced that it never did touch his fingers.
In the end, it hardly mattered, as Texas recovered their composure to hold Arizona State at a safe distance for the rest of the game. Still, Texas wobbled, going three–and–out on their next possession, and the greatest ACTUAL play in that game just may have been the go–for–it on fourth down on the following possession called by Mack Brown. That Texas surge settled the troops, cooled off the Sun Devils' momentum, and possibly saved Chris Jesse from becoming the Steve Bartman of Texas Football.
Bowl Bites: Welcome to the middle of Bowl Season
Bowl season comes in three stages. First, the games that sure–as–heck don't matter, but which set up conference champs with mid–range opponents from better–regarded conferences. Think BYU–UCLA, FAU–Memphis, Central Michigan–Purdue. There's an edginess to the games, little teams with chips on their shoulders and bigger teams who are expected to slap them into line. Conference reputations are at stake. These games have atmosphere.
Later, of course, we have the big–name bowl games, either the BCS 'event' games, or the second–tier of New Year BCS wannabes that either have capable teams or a proud history of their own: the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl, Tennessee v Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, Michigan v Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
And then, stuck in the middle like the thin, bland filling of a British Rail sandwich [see previous editor's note.], there's the Could–Care–Less Bowls, stocked with 'almost' teams, programs that hoped they would be bowling on January 1st at least. Their opponents are other 'almost' teams from similarly prominent conferences and there's little more on the line that their conference's bowl record, or their individual streak of consecutive victories in ho–hum bowl assignments.
Boston College looked like they cared when they beat Michigan State, but finishing the season with 11 wins, they might have hoped for more. TCU beat Houston ...did anybody outside Texas watch? Oregon State played four quarters against Maryland (who bowed out of scoring after one), but the sideline celebrations didn't seem any more joyous than had this been a week two non–conference match–up.
Okay, well done, everybody, we got through them. Tick and move on...