The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 3, 2012

When is the Cotton Bowl not the Cotton Bowl

ENID, Okla. — The Oklahoma Sooners are going to the Cotton Bowl — but they’re not.

The Oklahoma State Cow-boys are going to the Cotton Bowl — but they’re not.

Welcome to the wild and wacky world of college football.

OU finished at 10-2, earned a share of the Big 12 championship, and was shunned for an at-large spot in a BCS bowl in favor of the kind of directional school upon which the Sooners usually feast in early September — Northern Illinois.

Instead of facing Florida in the Sugar Bowl, as expected, the Sooners will take on former Big 12 foe Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, which is no longer played in the Cotton Bowl, but in Jerry Jones’ billion-dollar football palace in Arlington.

The BCS, which does not stand for Blasted Confounding Stupidity, but should, doesn’t have long to live. After next season, it will be history, and not a moment too soon. Instead of a compelling matchup like OU and Florida in the Superdome, we will be treated to Northern Illinois taking on Florida State.

Basketball fans point to the feel-good Cinderella stories that seem to come year after year in the NCAA basketball tournament, with little schools going up against and beating their much larger and better funded counterparts.

It can happen in basketball, where one or two really good players can carry a whole team. But in football, it’s all about being bigger, faster and more athletic, and players possessing those attributes are far more likely to be found in Tallahassee than DeKalb.

Meanwhile, after losing two straight games for the first time since 2009, OSU slipped from the realm of bowl games people have actually heard of to one that has most fans shaking their heads — the Pancreas of Plano Bowl or somesuch, which is played in the Cotton Bowl stadium.

I’m being told it is actually the Colon of Colleyville Bowl. No? I’m sorry, it’s the Liver of Lewisville Bowl. Or is it the Spleen of Seagoville Bowl? Of course, it’s the Gallbladder of Grapevine Bowl. No, no, my mistake, it’s actually the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

How could I be so confused? After all, this is a bowl with a rich history and tradition dating clear back to 2011, for those of you who can remember back that far.

The Cowboys will play Purdue, which finished 6-6, only lost to No. 1-ranked Notre Dame by three, took unbeaten Ohio State to overtime, but was trounced by both Minnesota and Penn State. The Boilermakers closed their season with three straight wins, while the Pokes have lost two straight.

And Purdue has no coach, since Danny Hope was fired hours after the Boilermakers’ final game. Instead, receivers coach Patrick Higgins will coach the team in the bowl game.

The Cowboys could soon find themselves in the same shape, with Mike Gundy having interviewed for the opening at Tennessee and being courted by Arkansas. Gundy’s not commenting, which will just foster more rumors and deepen the uncertainty surrounding the program.

For Cowboy fans, all this must bring back bad memories of 2004. In January of 2004, the Pokes played Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl, when it was actually played in the Cotton Bowl. It was a great game, but they lost 31-28. Then, in December of that year, with rumors surrounding Les Miles’ impending jump to LSU, the Cowboys played Ohio State. It was not a great game, as they were spanked 33-7.

The good news for both the Sooners and Cowboys is that they are playing in a fertile recruiting area, and the games in Dallas will make it easier on fans to follow their teams.

The bad news is neither team is playing in the game it deserved.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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