It’s easy to forget that college football’s bowl season is, first and foremost, programming for ESPN.
And the Neal Smatresk Bowl apparently is not TV gold.
In ESPN.com’s rankings of the bowls from best to worst, UNLV’s showdown with the Mean Green of North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 was last among the 35 games.
The Rebels (7-5) are in a bowl game for the first time since 2000 and are assured of a winning season under fourth-year coach Bobby Hauck. UNLV features a remarkable reclamation project at quarterback (Caleb Herring), not to mention the bizarre coincidence that Smatresk is slated to leave his position as UNLV’s president for the same job at North Texas.
Those storylines did little to impress writer Mark Schlabach.
“As Rebels coach Bobby Hauck told his team last month, ‘Hell may have just frozen over — the Rebels are bowl eligible!’ Well, an ice storm did hit Texas this week,” Schlabach wrote.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl got a little more love from Yahoo’s Dr. Saturday blog, which had the game No. 31 and ranked the New Orleans Bowl between Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette as the worst of the bunch.
Leftovers, meanwhile, believes that the only bowl game worth watching is Alabama vs. Oregon, but we were denied that because of some “agreement” between the Sugar Bowl and the Big 12 Conference.
Rest in peace, BCS.
■ CONSPIRACY THEORY — If you ever want to make a Wisconsin football fan start twitching, two words will do it: “Pac-12 refs.”
The No. 19 Badgers (9-3) are set to meet No. 8 South Carolina (10-2) in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla., and on Tuesday the bowl announced on its Twitter account that the game will be officiated by a crew from none other than the Pac-12 Conference.
That news sent Wisconsin fans, who haven’t forgotten about the officiating fiasco at the end of the Badgers’ 32-30 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 14, straight to their keyboards and smartphones to express their displeasure on social media.
“#Badgers reacting to the news as if we just announced ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis as our head referee,” the bowl wrote on Twitter, referring to the crooked 1980s official from the World Wrestling Federation. “It’ll be ok, guys!”
■ GET YOUR GRUB ON — Competitive eating is a popular sport in Japan (see: Takeru Kobayashi), but Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa probably won’t be participating when he is done with his soccer career.
Kagawa missed Manchester United’s 1-0 Premier League loss to Newcastle United on Saturday after overeating. The loss dropped the English giants into ninth place, 13 points behind league-leading Arsenal.
“Shinji was very sick after the (Dec. 4) game, and he did a bit of training on Friday, but he was low,” Manchester United manager David Moyes told the club’s official website. “It was a bad sickness. He thinks he ate too much, and he had to get his stomach pumped, but I think he is (OK).”
COMPILED BY DAVID SCHOEN LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL