Let’s face it: You have to be pretty awful not to be bowl-eligible. You have to lose more games than you win. (But you don’t have to win more games than you lose.) Both Georgia and Georgia Tech made it, just, and on Sunday they reaped their, er, rewards.
Georgia gets to go play the guy who got Jim Donnan fired.
Georgia Tech gets to go to Shreveport.
Unless you’re going to a BCS game, being bowl-eligible is a double-edged sword. The good part: You get to go somewhere and play somebody. The not-so-good: You might hate the trip and you might get beat to boot. If either the Bulldogs or the Jackets lose, they wind up under .500. And both could lose.
Central Florida is George O’Leary’s latest team, and it’s not bad. Georgia should beat the Knights on talent alone, but Georgia should have beaten Mississippi State and Colorado on talent, and we know what happened there. If the Bulldogs do a sleepwalking-in-Memphis number, they’ll regret it. This is UCF’s fourth bowl, and it hasn’t won one yet. And there’s nothing like wiping the smile off some SEC representative’s face to stoke the mid-major fires. (And UCF, as noted a while back, does have famous fans to placate. Like Miss July.)
Mark Richt can take advantage of this excursion to thank O’Leary properly. If not for the ol’ resume-builder, Richt wouldn’t have gotten the chance to win big with Donnan’s recruits and become an earner of serious coinage. O’Leary’s Tech teams beat Donnan three years running, impelling UGA president Michael Adams to overrule his athletic director — Vince Dooley, whom Adams would get around to shoving aside a bit later — and fire the not-all-that-bad Old Coach.
As for Tech’s latest coach: Paul Johnson is famous for sugarcoating almost nothing, but even he tried to sound excited about his all-expenses-paid trip to Shreveport on a teleconference Sunday. (Hey, it’s part of the job.) Faced with the Herculean task of moving 10,000 tickets to an event Jacket fans have spent the past year lampooning — see, Georgia played in last year’s Independence Bowl — Tech AD Dan Radakovich noted that Shreveport “is a very manageable drive from Atlanta.”
About the only intriguing thing about the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl — really, can there be anything intriguing about a bowl named after a multivitamin? — is the chance to see two option teams play what could be the quickest game of the new millennium. Tech leads the nation in rushing; Air Force, its Shreveport dance partner, is second. Imagine: More pitchouts than you can shake a stick at!
If nothing else, both the locals will get their bowls out of the way in calendar 2010. If you’re not going to a BCS game or a New Year’s bowl, there’s nothing worse than dragging this dreary business into the new year. Tech was in the running, so to speak, for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, set for Jan. 9, and the Bulldogs could have landed in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which will be staged Jan. 8, which is bad enough, in Birmingham, which constitutes piling on.
Instead it’s Shreveport for Tech — karma is indeed a brute — and Memphis for the Bulldogs. You’d have to give the pronounced edge to the Bulldogs. Memphis is famous for Graceland and Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music; Shreveport is famous for being Shreveport.
If you wind up in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, you can at least kill an hour staring at the gold-plated Cadillac that once belonged to Isaac Hayes, who famously wrote “Theme from ‘Shaft.’ ” If you’re stuck in the municipality of the Multivitamin Bowl … well, you’ve pretty much gotten the shaft.
But hey, it’s a very manageable drive.
By Mark Bradley