By NATALIE MEISLER
Let’s start the second half of college football season with a question for the ages. Not who will win the Heisman, the National Championship, who will be first to join Les Miles on the unemployment line. What life savant can explain while the football season flies by at warp speed, political season with its detritus of campaign ads requires an eternity to reach November?
Didn’t think anyone had the answer.
The other unanswerable query: Will Oregon ever run out of ugly uniform color combinations?
Moving on other pressing puzzles:
Who benefits from Houston’s demise last week in the sweepstakes to secure the Cotton Bowl berth reserved for the highest ranked member of a non-Power Five conference? This was previously labeled as the non-BCS or non-Automatic Qualifying slot that went to the highest ranked Mountain West, C-USA, MAC, and relatively new American Athletic (formerly Big East football) champ.
The answer is New Year’s Day bowl regular Boise State. The undefeated Broncos of the Mountain West just happens to be celebrating this weekend with a Homecoming tribute to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl team. That was the team that rattled the foundation of BCS establishment with the classic double overtime conquest of Oklahoma.
Or as Boise State athletic director Curt Apsay said this week: “They transformed this place.”
A 10-year reunion, especially when the star Ian Johnson remains a fixture in town as an insurance salesmen and talk radio personality, might be too soon for nostalgia. Typically these halftime reunion celebrations introduce a group of silver-haired good old boys comparing their knee and hip replacements. But Boise State, which didn’t play football until 1968 and didn’t move to Division I-A until 1996, isn’t much for celebrating its junior college early history.
The unfortunate designated victim is a 3-3 Colorado State, back to its original quarterback who was replaced by a grad transfer and then a true freshman who tore his ACL.
And here is the perfect segue for today’s “Who is this guy?” Former Boise State head Chris Petersen, who has 6-0 Washington in the conversation for the four-team playoff.
The Huskies have a bye this week and there is no word if Peterson will be in Boise for festivities. Petersen took the Broncos to three BCS bowls.
In segue No. 2, who is the first (and last?) year defensive coordinator at Oregon which was annihilated 70-21 by Washington last week?
Call Brady Hoke the accidental former Michigan coach. He parlayed a two-year 13-12 record at San Diego State into the Big Ten salary lottery and then left a rebuilding task for Jim Harbaugh. Hoke’s 9-4 second year at San Diego State was largely the work of his defensive coordinator and current Aztecs head coach Rocky Long.
CONSPIRACY THEORY: Sadly, security measures ramp up every year and then crowds are too slow to filter into stadiums. Gridlock starts at the gates from fans waiting until the last minute to find their seats.
When the fans don’t make it for kickoff, the athletic director hears the brunt of the frustration from aforementioned latecomers. That certainly was the case at Colorado seeing a surge in attendance reflecting the team’s new success.
Colorado athletic director Rick George announced a plea for fans to get inside the gates an hour before kickoff. CU is unique with its entrance of the live buffalo running around the stadium about five minutes before kickoff and crowds blocked at the gates missed the ritual last time.
The reasons for fans, regardless of team colors, waiting for the last minute are universal. Whether water or beer (if even available), stadium prices are larcenous these days. As ADs are continually tapping revenue sources, it only makes sense (to them) to encourage the captive market to come early and buy, buy, buy.
TERRIBLE TWOS: Two stats last weekend stand the test of infamy for the ages. Rutgers eked out only two first downs in the 76-0 humiliation by Michigan. UNLV managed only two pass completions against San Diego State. For comparison,s, UNLV went through four basketball coaches last year (midyear firing, interim, one-week new hire, “permanent” new hire). This was brought to everyone’s attention through the Twitter personification of The Show, San Diego State’s rude, crude but always entertaining student section at basketball games.
CONDOLENCES: To LSU losing its 11-year-old live Tiger mascot, Mike VI. Although the school is looking for a replacement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released this statement “PETA is calling on the university to honor Mike VI’s legacy by making him the last live mascot to be locked up in captivity and paraded around an unruly stadium. The last thing LSU should do is condemn yet another tiger to a lifetime of exploitation.”
For comparison, Colorado’s Ralphie takes her handlers for a wild ride and spends non-game time as a free range buffalo grazing at a nearby ranch.
Rest in peace, Mike VI. And please, LSU, stick to a fuzzy costume mascot.
Natalie Meisler has been a professional journalist for more than 35 years and one of the premier pioneer women sports writers in America. Most of her career was spent with The Denver Post covering college sports, particularly the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Wyoming, the Air Force Academy, Nebraska and Utah football/basketball. She has been on point with the Big 12, the Pac-12, the Mountain West and the Western Athletic Conferences and has been has written up-close at major bowls and national championship games, and she has covered dozens of conference basketball tournaments, especially in Las Vegas, and NCAA tournament games. She has covered the NFL and Super Bowls. And her lovable pug wears a Broncos sweater. A career source of pride was bringing bike racing to a general audience before the yellow jersey became part of American lexicon. Natalie is a regular contributor and columnist for woodypaige.com. She has contributed to Lindy’s Sports national college football and basketball previews and was in on the ground level of The Sports Xchange. She lives in Boulder, Colo.