Responder Bowl lacked response


Most college football bowl games are a combination of all-around junket, charitable/community event, television programming and sponsor activation.

At their heart, though, they’re a TV show, what happens on the field matters little. That was made crystal clear four days ago when ESPN canceled the SERVEPRO First Responder Bowl between No. 23 Boise State and Boston College after a nearly 90-minute weather delay.

The game, owned and operated by ESPN through its events and programming division, was officially declared no contest as lightning and severe storms halted play at the historic Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas.

Although bowl officials discussed the weather the day before, there was no viable Plan B — including an acceptable TV “window” for the game to be contested and shown.

While it’s hard to fathom that a full-fledged contingency plan did not exist, the action, or inaction, drove home the point that bowl games outside of the College Football Playoff are meaningless.

At their best, they exist to provide relatively inexpensive television programming (mostly for ESPN). They also might provide some benefit for the charities and communities that supposedly benefit from them and the tourism they generate. And, of course, bowl games are a great way for sponsors to get their names out there and for others — college administrators, support staff and top-tier bowl personnel — to benefit from an all-expense-paid trip.

In the end, the game didn’t matter enough to avoid cancellation.

Southern Scuffle

Penn State wrestling fans can hear coverage of the top-ranked team’s efforts at the Southern Scuffle by visiting and clicking on Multimedia and then LionVision.

The audio-only feed will be available both Tuesday and Wednesday as play-by-play man Jeff Byers brings fans every Penn State match and many other matches during his coverage of the competitive mid-season tournament. Fans who subscribe to FloWrestling can watch the tournament online.

Tuner tidbits

n Successful heart surgery for Matt Millen on Christmas Eve both saved his life, the most important aspect, and probably means that he’ll eventually return to his duties as a college football analyst for Big Ten Network. The accomplished Penn State alumna and NFL standout brings legitimacy to BTN’s efforts and is beloved by those he works with on broadcasts.

n With the chance to milk some playoff drama for better ratings this afternoon, the NFL altered its schedule so both the Bengals-Steelers and Browns-Ravens kick off at 4:25 p.m. Of course, the Steelers’ slim playoff chances rest on the Browns beating the Ravens and the Steelers defeating the Bengals. Both games air on CBS, so WTAJ will have the Steelers game with regular updates on what’s happening in Baltimore.