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Suffering 'Bowlmania' symtoms?

By John Tucker

Scripps Howard News

Did you hang in there to watch Troy manhandle Rice last week in the New Orleans Bowl?

Were you unable to resist that Motor City Bowl game between Central Michigan and Middle Tennessee on ESPN?

Are you actually contemplating watching 8-4 Nevada duke it out with 6-6 Miami in the MPC Bowl tonight?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, you’re probably suffering from “bowlmania.” It’s a seasonal affliction whose symptoms generally intensify with the progression of the college football bowls.

Unless, of course, your team is in the BCS title game Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz. If that’s the case, you’re probably already in the advanced stages of “bowlmania” and may be exhibiting bizarre behavior.

One Ohio State Buckeye fanatic, John Whitson, was singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” at the newspaper office two days after Christmas. Same lyric, over and over.

That’s the effect a 48-day waiting period can have on an overly anxious middle-aged man afflicted with “bowlmania.”

For the rest of us, the sickness will begin to manifest itself by Jan. 1 in a nonstop, 12-hour college football television frenzy, gorging and quite possibly an overindulgence in adult beverages.

In the most severe cases, you could begin to start entertaining crazy thoughts, like Florida knocking off the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Buckeyes in the national championship game. Or, even more far-fetched ideas, like Boise State upsetting Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night and Wake Forest beating Louisville in Tuesday night’s Orange Bowl.

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In rare cases, “bowlmania” has been known to stretch the imagination, sometimes beyond the believable.

The Unbalanced Line, for instance, pictures:

* Miami coach Larry Coker delivering his final pep talk to the Hurricanes prior to their New Year’s Eve tussle with Nevada in the MPC Bowl: “Don’t let anybody tell you we don’t deserve to be here in Boise. At 6-6, we earned this! And remember, win or lose, I’m still fired.”

* Texas coach Mack Brown, who’s not known for awe-inspiring, game-day speeches, was trying to psyche up his 9-3 Longhorns for yesterday’s Alamo Bowl clash with 6-6 Iowa: “If you’re wondering how we ended up here, in San Antonio, you’re not alone. I’ve made lots of calls, but I haven’t gotten any answers.”

* Bob Stoops trying to get his Oklahoma Sooners fired up to play 12-0 Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl New Year’s night: “We lost a quarterback, and that couldn’t stop us. We got cheated in Oregon, and that couldn’t stop us. Then we lost our running back… and that couldn’t stop us. So, are we gonna let the boys of Boise stop us?”

* Boise coach Chris Peterson giving his Broncos a feel-good talk before engaging the Sooners in battle: “Nobody outside of Boise gives us a chance of winning this game. And that’s beautiful. ‘Cause it’s not often you get a chance to show a world of doubters what you’re made of. I have no doubt you will.”

* Notre Dame trailing LSU by 14 at the half in Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, and coach Charlie Weis trying to inspire the Irish to victory, without the use of any profanities: “They said we were overmatched. They said we were gonna get smoked… I got news for you, gentlemen, another half like the first, and THEY are gonna be right..”

* Associated Press Coach of the Year Jim Grobe’s address to his 15th-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons prior to their Orange Bowl contest with No. 5-ranked Louisville: “Your coaches believed in you, and you believed in yourselves. In 105 years of Wake Forest football, you’ve taken the program to a place it’s never been . You started a legacy of winning… Don’t stop now. Go shock college football nation… again!”

* Penn State coach Joe Paterno in a press conference answering questions about the Nittany Lions New Year’s Day Outback Bowl matchup with Tennessee: “I know their quarterback (Erik Ainge) said some stuff about our players maybe not being as athletic as theirs. The kid’s entitled to his opinion. We just don’t happen to agree. We think we’ve got some pretty good players, some pretty fast players. Just like them. So I think we’ll do okay, as far as the speed thing goes.”

* Michigan coach Lloyd Carr’s post-Rose Bowl remarks: Hearing “Hail to the Victors” in the Rose Bowl is as good as it gets… well, almost. But we’ll leave all that conjecture, all the what ifs and what might have been, to you folks.”

* Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville admitting to his players that he inadvertently booked a flight to Glendale instead of Dallas, where his Tigers will play Nebraska Jan. 1 in the Cotton Bowl: “The quest for respect can lead you astray sometimes. Take you off your game. It has me on more than one occasion.”

* Florida coach Urban Meyer working the media the night before his Gators take on the top-ranked Buckeyes: “I believe the SEC champion ought to have a spot in the national title game each and every year, because that’s what the people want. They want to see the best team from the best conference play for it all. And everybody knows the SEC rules, year in and year out…”

* Steve Spurrier having a nightmare that he’s coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks against Houston in the Liberty Bowl Friday in Memphis, and South Carolina is losing…big. And he gets so frustrated and mad that he throws a temper tantrum that gets replayed over and over on national TV.

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“Bowlmania” has no known cure. Its symptoms, as you can see, range from mild to extreme. They do, however, go into remission.

Usually the afflicted start to regain their senses around mid January.

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