The Popcorn Stand is written periodically by Appeal assistant editor Charles Whisnand (actually whenever he wants to write it) and covers his views on the world of sports (actually whatever he wants to write about). The column is named in honor of Whisnand’s favorite sports columnist, Pulitzer Prize-winning Red Smith, who onced dubbed one of his columns The Popcorn Stand.
We get right to bashing ESPN and the Southeastern Conference by covering something that happened we were afraid was going to happen: Rigging the College Football Playoff to set up an Alabama-Oklahoma national championship game. So don’t try to tell me ESPN trying to bolster TV ratings had nothing to do with this rigged setup. Or money. MONEY.
The CFP rankings were No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State going into the final week of the season. So logic would dictate the winner of the Iowa-Michigan State game would end up No. 4 and therefore Clemson would play that winner and Alabama would play Oklahoma in the National Semifinals.
To quote Lee Corso who began a legacy of mediocre coaches becoming ESPN analysts: “Not so fast my friend.”
Since Michigan State so impressively routed Iowa by a field goal when it stretched the football across the goal line in the final seconds, the Spartans obviously deserved to move ahead of Oklahoma in the rankings. Yeah, right.
Of course the ESPN analysts then had to justify ranking Michigan State ahead of Oklahoma, all of a sudden talking up Iowa. ESPN was already setting up this fiasco before the last weekend when one analyst pointed out the Sooners only beat TCU by one point. Didn’t know three points were so much better than one point. (Although admittedly in Nevada two points could mean a big difference).
But we’re not setting betting lines here, rather the College Football Playoff bracket.
So now we’re the biggest fan of Clemson and Michigan State. Here’s hoping they wreck ESPN’s New Year’s Eve party.
ESPN has also rueened (as Stewie would pronounce it) the bowl season as there are now 40 bowls. Why does ESPN need to televise 40 bowls? Why doesn’t it just televise poker every night like it used to? That would be more exciting.
We have come up with our own bowl lineup in which for no particular reason we limit it to 14 bowls, plus the national title game. Only teams with four or less losses from the five major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac 12), plus Houston, Navy and BYU receive berths in our bowls. Teams like Toledo, Memphis and Temple can go to their own bowls, we don’t care, although that’s basically what led to this mess in the first place as decent teams weren’t getting a chance to play in a bowl game which led to bowl after bowl being added.
Our bowl lineup:
National semifinals: Orange Bowl — Clemson vs. Michigan State. Cotton Bowl — Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Rose Bowl — Stanford vs. Iowa
Sugar Bowl — Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Fiesta Bowl — Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Peach Bowl — Houston vs. Florida State
Tax Slayer Bowl (we assume this is the old Gator Bowl since it’s played in Jacksonville, we don’t know any more) — Baylor vs. North Carolina
Outback Bowl — Northwestern vs. Tennessee
Citrus Bowl — Michigan vs. Florida
Holiday Bowl — Wisconsin vs. Georgia
Sun Bowl — Oregon vs. TCU
Vegas Bowl (Is it still called the Vegas Bowl, we don’t know and we don’t care) — BYU vs. Utah
Independence Bowl — Miami vs. Washington State
Liberty Bowl — Mississippi State vs. Navy
Things we can do without in sports:
Obviously 40 bowl games
Receivers who have the first down, then dance around trying to get extra yardage, and lose the first down. Especially on third down. We hate that. And throw in DeSean Jackson’s stupid return Monday night into this category of what we hate.