Commentary: Bow down to Washington, WSU and Eastern

Amid many inspid bowl games, the state’s colleges showed their programs as being ones on the rise.

By Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

Sometimes, as poet Robert Browning noted in 1855, less is more. That’s certainly the case with the recently completed — but seemingly never ending — throng of college football bowl games.

Still, at least to college football fans in Washington state, the bowl games were entertaining and, perhaps, satisfying.

The WSU Cougars won the Alamo Bowl in a 28-26 battle with Iowa State, while the UW Huskies went toe-to-toe with Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The UW got behind early and staged a huge comeback, falling just short as time ran out.

And the college football season is not over yet. No, we aren’t talking Alabama vs. Clemson for the FBS national championship. Our focus is on Eastern Washington University taking on North Dakota State University on Saturday for the FCS (formerly NCAA Division I AA) national championship in Frisco, Texas (ESPN2 at 9 a.m.).

This is a contest that means something. The Eastern Eagles come in as the No. 3 ranked FCS team. The NDSU Bison are ranked No. 1 and are winners of six of the last seven national titles.

Eastern has shown steady improvement throughout the season. It should be an exciting game.

That can’t be said for many of the 34 bowl games played from the middle of December until New Year’s Day, which were ridiculous. These were as riveting as watching recess at an elementary school playground. These were often games between teams that didn’t have a winning record, played in nearly empty stadiums. Some players dreaming of a future in the NFL are opting to sit out of meaningless games to avoid injury.

College football, which no doubt is big business, does what is needed to make money. Yet, it would do itself — and fans — a favor by reducing the number of bowl games and setting higher standards for teams to participate.

Let’s face it, being the Cheez-It Bowl champion (the honor went to the TCU Horned Frogs) isn’t what most kids dream of when they start playing football. Being Rose Bowl champ is.

Perhaps our scorn for the plethora of insipid bowl games is rooted in parochial pride. The WSU Cougars were ranked 13th in the nation when the bowl matchups were made. The Cougs should have gotten a more prestigious bowl bid, one on New Year’s Day. Lower-ranked schools such as Texas (No. 15) were given higher-profile games, and ended up shining. Texas beat No. 5 ranked Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Oh well, life — and football — aren’t always fair.

WSU Coach Mike Leach and the Cougs made the best of their situation. They won an exciting game and showed the program is on the rise.

So, too, did UW Coach Chris Petersen. His Huskies showed no quit as they gave the Ohio State Buckeyes all they could handle. The UW program is also going in the right direction.

The next Apple Cup should already be circled on the 2019 calendar.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have a chance to soar to a national title on Saturday. Go Eastern!

The above editorial appeared in Thursday’s Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

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