Notes from the man cave

By Mike Murphy

My dad’s generation was much tougher than mine in many ways.  But when it came to college football bowl games, Dad had it easy compared to me.  He had to survive just one day—New Year’s—from morning to night.  Heck, back then you could get a six-pack of RC Cola and a bag of Kitty Clover Potato Chips and be all set.

I imagine that even by the time they were in grade school kids back then had the names of the games all memorized.  And such easy names too: Sugar, Cotton, Rose, and Orange Bowls.  None of this Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl stuff.  Try squeezing all that onto a t-shirt!

But today bowl season is just that, another complete season.  It goes on for a month and includes thirty-nine games!  Nowadays, you have to be really strong to survive the grueling journey.  Those fans who lack the skill and proper training usually end up being carried off the couch on a stretcher, and, with eleven months of rehab, hopefully will be better prepared next year.

The complicated penalties today cause even more stress.  Offsides is now a “neutral zone infraction” which sounds more like something North Korea would do to South Korea.  Along with clipping, they’ve added block in the back, block below the waist, chop block, and a chip off the old block.  Did he rough the kicker, run into the kicker, or just look at the kicker in a threatening manner?  It’s gotten so you need a law degree just to follow the action.

Then there is the hurry-up, no-huddle offense many teams use today which creates new challenges for fans.  If you leave the television to run to the bathroom for a number one it’s pretty certain you’ll miss a touchdown, and if it’s for a number two, forget it, game over.

The current college football bowl season is finally drawing to a close—and none too soon as far as my personal health is concerned.   After a month of eating only nachos and hot dogs, I have forgotten many of the basics such as how to use a fork and spoon.  Sitting in one spot so long has resulted in green moss growing where once I had a healthy head of three hairs.  My right thumb resembles a giant yam from pressing the remote buttons so much.

Sleep deprivation is taking a toll since I can only squeeze in short naps so as not to risk missing “the next game.”  And when I do manage to sleep, instead of sheep, I count yellow penalty flags flying through the air.

I keep turning to high-five anyone else on the couch but discover that the entire family retired to bed long ago, and I’m pretty sure the purring Siamese cat lying on the pillow will claw me viciously if I try it with her.

I’ve watched so many plays “under further review” shown over and over again that I am beginning to hallucinate.  Is that a loose football rolling around under those guys or a player’s head?  When the ball carrier dove for the end zone, did the orange pylon actually get stuck in his right nostril—and is that a touchdown?

I strangely have the uncontrollable urge to go downtown and get an arm tattoo consisting of the entire text of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Additionally, I now feel confident that I can correctly pronounce “Poinsettia” which could come in handy if I pick up a job at a florist.

While watching the Belk Bowl turn into a blowout I decided that’s enough.  I have seen the light and am not going to waste one more minute of my precious time watching this nonsense!   So I picked up the remote and . . . switched over to the Fosters Farm Bowl to watch Stanford trounce Maryland.

The two universities that lost in the college football playoffs semifinals, Florida State and Alabama, may need to hire extra counselors  to help their players as they return to school, since they probably have no idea what they are supposed to do now that football season is over.

First order of business, I assume, is to take the players on a campus tour where they will be amazed to discover that those big buildings located near the stadium contain classrooms.  I mean, after all, when the fourth quarter is about to start and several of those schools’ players hold up three fingers, one can’t help but wonder.

All I can say is that if the Rose Bowl Game is “The Granddaddy of Them All” then it’s pretty obvious that the Duck Commander Bowl and the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl are definitely two of its many illegitimate grandchildren, and, perhaps, with thirty-nine bowls and counting, it’s time to consider some birth control options.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career.  He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.