It’s like gilding a Lily — Without UCLA to root for, or u$c to root against, it takes All Of Me to try to psych up my soul for the 35-game Bowl Season, which starts tomorrow

Is there ONE SINGLE College Football fan who thinks that there AREN’T too many Bowl Games?  Only ESPN likes this ridiculous set-up, since that network and their affiliates are broadcasting — and profitting — from 33 of the 35 games.  Everyone else seems to agree that 6-and-6 teams should not qualify for postseason play.  Nor should we be subjected to games featuring teams like Ohio, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee State, and of course, Troy.  I’m not breaking new ground by complaining that this whole system is an absolute JOKE. 

I like tradition, although I am not BEHOLDEN to olden times.  I actually like the Designated Hitter Rule, because I hate to see automatic-out Pitchers flail away at fast balls right down the middle.  So I am not completely adverse to change — I don’t even care about a Pac-10 vs. Big 10 match-up being guaranteed for the Rose Bowl.  But I hate the fact that there are Bowls other than the National Championship Game, played AFTER New Year’s Day.  The Bowls should BUILD in importance and stature, and that leaves no room for Boston College to be playing in January.

Without the L.A. teams participating, there is really only one MAIN reason why I will still watch the Bowls this year:  Bowl Pools.  Just like Fantasy Football keeps me interested in the NFL, it’s the Bowl Pools that have me eager for Bowl Season to begin.  After all, why else would people unaffiliated with the schools involved care one iota about  Florida International versus Toledo?

As far as CONFERENCE affiliation, I have mixed emotions.  Of course I would NEVER root for the trOJans (of u$c — I don’t care about the other ones, who, incidentally, got killed by the REAL USC this year, when the Gamecocks crushed them 69-24), but there IS something to be said for rooting for the other 8 Pac-10 (UCLA-rival) teams.  It does look good when the pundits summarize the Bowl Season with Conference results — If the Pac-10 goes 4-0, it helps the Conference’s overall reputation.  When the Pac-10 is considered “soft,” it probably hurts its teams’ ability to recruit from other parts of the Country.

However, if a Pac-10 team makes an exceptionally-good showing in a Bowl game, it might help THAT team’s recruiting, AT THE EXPENSE of UCLA’s.  Therefore, it is a toss-up as whether Bruin fans should pull for their Conference foes in the Bowls.  And with Oregon playing for the National Championship, it’s still a tough call — It would be nice to claim a National Title for the Pac-10, especially over the cocky SEC, but deep-pocketed Oregon is already at such an advantage over the Bruins, a BCS Crown may widen that gap to “insurmountable.”

As it happens, I think that it’s very possible that the Pac-10 could go 0-and-4.  Washington plays Nebraska, who destroyed the Huskies in Seattle earlier this year.  The Dawgs’ only hope is that the Cornhuskers won’t be fired up AT ALL for the rematch.  Even so, the Huskers could probably win it in their sleep.  Arizona faces Offensive juggernaut Oklahoma State, so it will take everything the Wildcats have just to keep pace.  Speaking of unstoppable, you all know about Cam Newton from Auburn, who is favored to lead the Tigers to a win over the Ducks.  That leaves Stanford, who is the only one of the four Pac-10 teams who is not an Underdog.  The Cardinal are a 3-point Favorite over Virginia Tech.  But it might not be that easy for Jim Harbaugh’s bunch, who has to travel across the Country to meet the Hokies, who haven’t lost since Hector was a pup (Chick Hearn still rules!).  With VT having a de facto home field advantage, and with rumors of Harbaugh leaving for Michigan five minutes after the final gun, Stanford QB Andrew Luck will have to have a Heisman-worthy performance to keep the Trees from being an upset victim.

All that being considered, I think 0-and-4 is more that just a worst-case scenario for the Pac-10.  But speaking of scenarios, there is a “best-case” scenario looming over the BCS-ruined Bowl situation, and it is being proffered by a trojan-like, arrogant jerk:  Mark Cuban.  I’ve always hated Dallas Maverick Owner Cuban, for his whiny histrionics regarding the Lakers, and for his general disrespect of the Sport which made him famous.  However, if his plan to institute a 12 or 16-team NCAA Football Play-off actually succeeds, I might change my mind a little.

Cuban is trying to offer a $500 Million pot to lure schools into pledging to participate in his Playoff scheme.  He is also trying to get big-money boosters to pull their financial support from any school that refuses to join this drive for a Playoff.  Nothing will happen before 2014, but since EVERYTHING is driven solely by the All-American Dollar, I think it’s feasible that his plan could work.  The Bowls could still exist, outside of the confines of the Playoffs, AND, the importance of regular-season games won’t be too diminished, because the records will affect Home Field Advantage in the Playoffs.  Also, the bullcrap excuse of students playing too many games is a non-starter, since the lower divisions already have Playoffs, with no academic drop-off (obviously).

So the Cuban Playoff Crisis is only a crisis for the fatcats who are making money from the BCS system, which could easliy be defunct in 5 years, as long as Cuban puts his money where his mouth is.

Speaking of pony-ing up, here are 10 more invaluable photos of the priceless UCLA Spirit Squad.  [Sorry for the delay between posts, but there was a death in the family… for real].