BY CLINTON PAWLICK
I do not have an open mind. If you ask my wife she’ll tell you: “He comes from a place of ‘no.’” It is part self-preservation (I always think someone is out to get me) and another part nostalgia.
But here’s the thing: This new college playoff thing stinks.
For that matter, the whole devolution of college bowls has me miffed. I don’t know when it started. Maybe with brand title sponsorship. We used to have tradition. The Cotton Bowl. The Rose, Sugar and Orange. Personally, I blame corn chips. But now we have the most unusual associations. A bowl game named after a credit union in California? And another after an alternative currency. The Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl? Huh?
When I was a kid, and it really wasn’t that long ago, though my gray hair and the fact that sleep sometimes hurts suggest otherwise, New Year’s Day was a treasure. Game after game of college football spread across the entire array of channels. So, back then, it was like three stations. All day and way into the night.
I can still remember going all pouty on my parents when they asked me to go to bed before the conclusion of the 1982 Orange Bowl. Though I had no affiliation with either school (Clemson or Nebraska), my umbrage was real. My bond was like Super Glue, fast-drying and incredibly strong. I liked the Tigers’ uniforms. What can I say? I was in.
Fond memories of the past make me resentful of the present. The year after my 1982 New Year’s disappointment, my dad surprised us with tickets to the Cotton Bowl. We lived in Dallas at the time, and I couldn’t believe my luck. It was as if my dad, suddenly endowed with great prescience, read my mind. And so, that New Year’s Day, my father, grandfather, and older brother put on layer upon layer of clothing to fend off the sub-freezing temperatures at Fair Park. Oh, yeah, that’s when the Cotton Bowl was actually played in the stadium of the same name in Dallas — not in the artificial palace of Jerry Jones in Arlington.
It was a great game. Cold. Wet. Poignantly miserable. A low-scoring fight with Dan Marino as the Pitt quarterback and Eric Dickerson running for the SMU Mustangs. Both became huge NFL stars, and I was there watching their last collegiate effort. Halftime was enjoyable, too. As the players walked off the field, a string of beautiful women marched onto it. The Kilgore Rangerettes, a dancing drill team that has performed at every Cotton Bowl now for more than 60 years. They kicked booted legs high into the air in mesmerizing unison. I was smitten.
Ah, yes, those were the good times. A marathon of football compressed into a single day. Nothing more afterwards. It was all at once and then all done. Waiting for the final rankings was suspenseful and tortuous. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Clinton Pawlick and his wife, Jen, live in North Seattle. They love the Seahawks, good friends, Washington reds, and their two cats, Malcolm and Ink Pot Pie.
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