Monday, December 04, 2006

The Bowl Season = Copters n' Cologne

Just for kicks -- and to amp up the buzz of a college football bowl season which will be unlike any other -- it might be worth walking into the San Diego County Credit Union and filling out a loan application for a Bell helicopter.
That's right ... we're talkin' 'bout getting the wheels in motion so that we can get the propellers spinnin' on our very own whirlybird. Yes ... it is true that probably nobody recently has sat down with a loan officer at the San Diego County Credit Union and crossed the T's and dotted the I's for his/her very own Bell helicopter.
That's probably due to the fact that most people know that if you're going to use a helicopter for a search-and-destory mission in and around La Jolla or to impress the neighbors in Escondido, the helicopter best suited for your objectives might be an Apache.
Think of Robert Duval in "Apocalypse Now" leading the invasion of Chula Vista.

That's always been the allure of the college bowl season -- not so much the Poinsettia Bowl or the Armed Forces Bowl, but rather the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl.
Sponsorship recognition has always been the name of the game -- and it stands to reason that the citizens of Fort Worth finally have a sense of pride about emerging from the shadow of next-door neighbor Dallas with is fancy-schmancy Cotton Bowl.

What was once an ambiguous Fort Worth Classic on New Year's Day 1921 (Centre defeated TCU, 63-7) was reborn as the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl more than 80 years later (2003 and 2004), but, alas … the Fort Worth Bowl had no sponsorship last year – existing as merely the "Fort Worth Bowl" (when Kansas and 544-lb. coach Mark Mangino sat on Houston, 42-13).
Thanks to Bell Helicopter (“a Textron Company”), the Fort Worth Bowl is ready to rumble with the big bowls as “the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl.”
Thanks for nuthin', PlainsCapital.
Still, there’s so much more that America doesn’t know about Bell Helicopter and the Bell helicpoters manufactured by Textron, Co..
Hopefully, Textron will take the opportunity to broaden our helicopter horizons with visuals during the commercials on Dec. 23 (featuring the football stylings of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the Utah Utes).

Currently, America doesn't know if Bell is the helicopter which ESPN uses when it transports Herb Kirkstreit from his Sat. morning set of LameDay at Auburn University in Alabama to a broadcast booth in State College, Pa. for a same-day Saturday-nighter at Penn State.
“Helicopter Herbie” is an operation which we (wanna-be) helicopter pilots (a.k.a. "flyboys") like to call a "celeb-evac," a drill almost as important as the MedEvac operations which occur every day across this great land.

Sure … “the official word” is probably that LameDay pays for a private jet to whisk Herbie to and fro. But, a helicopter – particularly a Bell helicopter – is the best means by which to land Herbie at the 50-yard line of said night game, so that he can sign autographs and woo chicks with those hazel eyes and that just-raspy-enough voice before he makes his way up to the broadcast booth to help out Puisburger and Davie Gravy, who, obviously, cannot function w/o Herbie to add his star power to the broadcast.

Herbie Hysteria aside, some of us have already prepared our Armed Forces Bowl checklist of questions re: the spendor and regal majesty of Bell helicopters.
Question 1: Does Bell manufacture the traffic chopper like the ones commuters rely on for morning-commute's updates every 10 minutes?

There's more:
-- Who is Bell Helicopters' No. 1 customer? The Coast Guard?
-- What are the rules and regulations re: helipads?
-- What's the top speed of your top-of-line model?
-- Does a Bell Helicopter come in a 2-door and a 4-door?
-- What are the rules and regulations re: the execution of loop-dee-loops?
-- Is it true that more people die in motor scooter accidents every year than in helicopter crashes?
-- What colors are available? Does it cost extra for detail work such as pinstriping or painted flames?
-- Was Blue Thunder a Bell? Was Airwolf?
-- How long does it take to get a helicopter pilot's license? Can I get a forged one in Tijuana -- or should I complete my training on-line?
-- When we saw those images of the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, is the helicopter that we see those folks tipping into the ocean a Bell?
-- When John McClane shot at the helicopter and caused it to get tangled in the power lines and explode, thus killing Simon Gruber ... was that a Bell?
-- When Jack Walsh shot out the tail-rotor of the helicopter and caused it to crash into the cliffside, thus killing the guy shooting at Jack's prisoner, Jonathan Mardukas ... was THAT a Bell?
-- When Mr. Joshua used his high-powered rifle to gun down Michael Hunsaker (the bullets piercing both human and the carton of egg nog that he was holding ... right there with Sgt. Murtaugh present inside his SoCal beach house) was that a Bell helicopter which hovered Mr. Joshua into position?

While we await the answers to this very-detailed questionnaire, let's remember our favorite helicopter moment ... y'know, the time when Agent Johnson of the FBI (the black guy) and Special Agent Johnson (the white dude) -- "no relation" -- were seated next to each other on the helicopter on a mission to regain control of the Nakatomi Building in L.A.
Special Agent Johnson (the white guy): "Yaaaa-haaaa! ... It's like fucking Saigon, eh, Slick?"
Agent Johnson (the back dude): (Smiling) "I was in junior high, Dickhead."

Sadly, neither Agent Johnson nor Special Agent Johnson -- "no relation" -- made it home to celebrate the holidays. Hans Gruber's explosives saw to that once the Nakatomi Building's roof was blown.
But, until Bell gives us a little more intel on Dec. 23, that's all we have to go on -- that Bell helicopters may NOT necessarily save the life of an Agent Johnson or a Special Agent Johnson, no matter that particular Agent Johnson's age, race or religious affiliation.

Make no mistake, though. Without corporate sponsorship, the intricate bowl infrastructure would have no link to the past.
Take the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, for example. From 1947 thru 1982, the Tangerine Bowl was simply known as “the Tangerine Bowl.”
Then it was the Florida Citrus Bowl (1983-93) – and it became a New Year’s Day regular in 1987, although it wasn’t until New Year’s Day ’93 when it became a traditional SEC-Big Ten square-off.

Then … the Tangerine Bowl became the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl (1994-99).
Then it was the Florida Citrus Bowl (2000).
Then it was the Capital One/Florida Citrus Bowl (2001-02).
Finally, what some of us still reference in our minds as “The Ol’ Tangerine Classic” has been known as “the Capital One Bowl” during the past four New Year’s days.
It’s usually a pretty good ballgame, too – except last year (for Auburn) when Wisconsin simply badgered the “athletically-superior” Tuberville Tigers.

Don’t knock Tangerine Town. At the end of the ’72, ’73, ’74 seasons, Miami of Ohio worked over three “athletically-superior” southern teams (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina) behind future NFL’ers Sherman Smith (the Miami Redskins QB who was a respectable NFL RB for Seattle and is in his 12th year coaching RBs for Jeff Fisher’s Oilers/Titans) and white-boy RB Rob Carpenter (dad of Dallas Cowboys rookie LB Bobby Carpenter).

Of course, The Ol’ Tangerine Classic is not to be confused for “The Tangerine Re-Birth of 2001.”
That was the year when tangerines filled our bowl-game daydreams – although the amusing angle to that New Tangerine Bowl was that in the game between N.C. State and Pitt, the word stenciled in big block letters on the grass in one of the end zones at the Florida Citrus Bowl was “VISIT” and the word stenciled in big block letters on the gras of the other end zone was “FLORIDA.”
The Florida Board of Tourism (or maybe it was the Orlando Chamber of Commerce) was the brainchild behind the "Visit Florida” theme.
After the '01 re-mainstreaming of tangerines into our consciousness, the ’02 and ’03 Tangerine Bowls were known as the Mazda Tangerine Bowl – not to be confused with the five years of Mazda sponsorship (1986-90) for the Mazda Gator Bowl.

Sadly, nobody drives Mazdas any more (“zoom zoom!”) , due largely to the popularity of the Bell helicopter as an option for when America wants to get its zoom-zoom schwere on.
And, sadly … Tangerine identity has gone by the wayside (but while maintaining its ACC affiliation for the 12th consecutive season) since the past two tangerine affairs have been sponsored by the athletic shoe store/apparel retailer, Champs Sports (“Where Sports Lives”).

This year, our riveting matchup features Maryland (8-4) vs. Purdue (8-5), two teams which this Haystack referred to in Nov. as “the two worst 8-win teams in America.”
They shouldn’t disappoint in this one – mostly because the 8 o’clock kickoff won’t conflict with the 7:30 start for the Insight Bowl (Minnesota vs. Texas Tech) on the NFL Network (because 99.9 percent of America doesn’t have the NFL Network).

Team Click-Clack! (so named because the Turtlepins became the first team to be decked out shoulder to toe in Under Armour Performance Apparel before in '04 season) and then went 5-6 and 5-6 while trying to protect this house.
This year, Ralphfrigerator got his boys to step it up and show the same sort of passion for the game similar to the gusto he exhibits when tackling five corned beef sandwiches and a gallon of potato salad.
The Turtle’s non-blowout wins over William & Mary (a bore-a-thon against a timid I-AA opponent) and Florida International (the maligned, winless collection of the Sunshine State’s junior-college talent) were vintage Ralphfrigerator.
Purdue was just as bad, but in a more-horrific conference.

Oh, the laughs we’ll have looking at the non-descript expression on the face of Turtle QB Sam Hollenbach and the puzzlement and bemusement coming from face inside the helmet of Bumblermaiden QB Curtis Painter.
It might remind some of us oldtimers of the 1949 blockbuster between Murray State and Sul Ross State, teams which played to a 21-21 tie.

Speaking of blockbusters, the Champs Sports Bowl was originally the Blockbuster Bowl (1990-93 … played in Joe Robbie/Pro Player Stadium as Wayne Huizenga’s college football gift to the world) ... before it became the Carquest Bowl (1994-97) ... before it blossomed into the Micron PC Bowl (1998) ... before it evolved into the MicronPC.som Bowl … before the committee moved the operation from Miami to Orlando.

So many memories.

Yet, despite all this talk of helicopters and tangerines and zoom-zooms and click-clacks, nuthin’ (nada!) is gonna touch the Brut Sun Bowl.
The important question isn’t “Who’s playing in the Brut Sun Bowl?” (answer: Mizzou Tigers vs. Ore. State Beavers) -- it’s “Who the frick still wears Brut?”
Brut (by Faberge) is what we all splashed on during college to enhance our chances of scoring some beaver.

That is, until we realized that Brut, like Old Spice, was approx. 99.9 percent alcohol.
In other words, you’d have a better chance of scoring said beaver if ya poured Brut through two slices of bread (acting as a makeshift filter) for what the TV game show “Jeopardy!” refers to as a “potent potable” (i.e. cocktail or elixir).
Either way, she’ll be drunk with love, as per her stomach convulsions would seem to indicate.

Jeez ... Brut acting like a brute and taking over the naming rights kinda makes ya yearn for the days of the Vitalis Sun Bowl, such as last Dec. when Northwestern heach coach Randy Walker ordered his team to onside-kick twice in the final 3 minutes after scoring TDs – only to see Brandon Breazell return the first onside kick 42 yards for a TD and the second one 45 yards for a TD in UCLA’s 50-38 victory.
Now, Randy Walker is gone.
And, so is Vitalis.

So, with no other options, we’ll deal with the Hi Karate/English Leather Sun Bowl.
(Although some of the luster will be missing due to the fact that in 10 of the previous 11 Sun Bowls, the matchup was Pac-10 also-ran vs. Big Ten also-ran in a mini-wanna-be Rose Bowl from "El-Paso-dena")

Anyway, if anybody hits ya with “These bowl games serve as a springboard for next season,” i.e. “creating momentum” and to “boost recruiting” … ummmmm, NO!
In case Herb Kirkstreit didn’t read the memo to America yet, college football players LOVE spending the final days of November practicing for a bowl game which won’t be played for another month.
No, seriously … they LOVE it.
Football players LOVE morning practices, they LOVE afternoon practices and they LOVE evening practices.

Herbie … that “fine-tuning during practice” went out with cardigan sweaters, argyle socks and takin’ yer best gal to the malt shop after studying for a French Lit exam.
College football players with time on their hands … jeez, always a problematic proposition.
Which is why most bowl games are, invariably, exempt from crisp execution.
That’s what makes Herb Kirkstreit so fascinating. He talks a lot about college football, but he hasn’t watched very much of it since the days when he was going 0-3-1 vs. Michigan and 0-4 in bowl games.
And, now, with a wife and houseful of kids … he ain't watching this year's bowls, either.
But, he'll talk about 'em.

We all will.
After we learn about the helicopters ...

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