The last three games of practically every season of practically every college sport are the national semifinals and championship game. Water polo, for whatever reason, clings to the long-obsolete third-place game, which is good, because Princeton defeated Loyola Marymount in the most recent one played.
The big exception to this is the highest level of the most popular college sport, football. At least until lacrosse passes it in the next 25-50 years or so.
In college football, the last three games of the year are this: Georgia Tech-Iowa tonight in the Orange Bowl, Central Michigan-Troy in the GMAC Bowl tomorrow and finally Alabama-Texas in the BCS championship game Thursday night. As an aside, it will stay the BCS championship game only if certain members of Congress don't pursue legislation to prevent it from being called that; those members of Congress who get behind the bill should save their time and just propose a resolution that says "we couldn't look sillier."
TigerBlog used to love to watch the New Year's Day bowl games, dating back to when there were just four of them: the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. Over time, the schedule grew so that it was wall-to-wall football on New Year's Day, which was also good. If one game wasn't doing it for you, there were countless others to choose from.
Now it's all spread out, with no rhyme or reason to the schedule. Plus, with a BCS championship game, every other game is rendered completely meaningless. And TigerBlog objects to the fact that Alabama and Texas play for the "championship" simply because they were 1) ranked higher than Boise State, TCU and Cincinnati when the season began and 2) higher profile teams.
Another grip TB has with the system is that there are too many bowl games. Well, not too many in the sense that if the market supports having that many games, so be it. Still, TB counted eight teams who went into their bowl game at 6-6, which meant that they needed a win in the bowl game to avoid a losing season. Does this seem wrong to anyone?
College football has become the complete opposite of college basketball, and TB isn't sure which one is better. In college football, the regular season is everything and the postseason is basically nothing. In college basketball, the regular season (except in the Ivy League) means basically nothing and the postseason (conference tournaments and NCAA tournament) are everything.
A regular-season football game between, say, Florida and LSU is huge, whereas a regular-season basketball game between the two means nothing other than seeding for the conference tournament.
Anyway, TigerBlog has watched some of the bowl season, though not a ton. Among his thoughts:
* TB feels badly for the East Carolina kicker
* the Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka had the most ridiculous stats in history: 47 for 78 for 532 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions; Northwestern ran a fake field goal in overtime and lost to Auburn 38-35 in the Outback Bowl, but how can anyone fault the Wildcats for going for the win there, especially with their No. 1 kicker hurt?
* Navy, whose new uniforms are the best in football, shredded Missouri for 385 rushing yards in a 35-13 win in the Texas Bowl; no team in college football is as much fun to watch as Navy
* Temple's reward for its great season and UCLA's reward for finishing .500 was to play in a freezing RFK Stadium in the EagleBank Bowl; it reminded TB of something that was overheard from a Stanford player at the first round of the NCAA field hockey tournament at a freezing, rainy Class of 1952 Stadium before Princeton defeated the Cardinal 4-0: "Our goal all year was to be in the NCAA tournament, and now that we're here, this is it?"
* TB isn't into hero worship, so he's never been real pro-Tim Tebow. Still, it's hard to argue with the performance he had in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati. And speaking of the Bearcats, yes, they got blasted, but TB isn't so sure that Cincinnati wouldn't have beaten either Texas or Alabama if they had 1) the chance and 2) their coach.
Then there was last night's Fiesta Bowl between undefeateds TCU and Boise State. First of all, the whole idea of having those two teams in the BCS was to see what they would do against a big-name school, not against each other. The reason Boise State's win over Oklahoma a few years ago was so great was because it was against OKLAHOMA.
This time, there were two Boise State defensive backs with Princeton connections. The first was cornerback Kyle Wilson, whose brother Gerry was a cornerback for the Tigers. Back in the first game ever played at Princeton Stadium, Gerry Wilson sealed Princeton's 6-0 win over Cornell with a late interception.
The second is Winston Venable, whose interception last night sealed the 17-10 Boise State win. His brother is obviously Will Venable, the All-Ivy basketball and baseball player who is now with the San Diego Padres.
TigerBlog almost always roots for the siblings of Princeton athletes. He tried to think of some of the ones through the years, and he came up with a few, though there are certainly some he's missing (and many, many more examples of Princeton siblings who also played for Princeton):
* Danny Earl, Brian Earl's brother, who played basketball at Penn State. TB has never rooted against the Earl family
* Adam and Michael Doneger, both of whom played lacrosse at Hopkins and whose brother Jason is TigerBlog Jr.'s favorite Princeton lacrosse player of all-time.
* Andrew Berry, a Harvard defensive back whose brother Adam was a Princeton wide receiver. Like TB said, he almost always roots for Princeton siblings
* Kevin Shattenkirk of the Boston U men's hockey team and brother of former Princeton captain Keith Shattenkirk; TB rooted for the Terriers in the NCAA final last year, which they won, because of the connection
There are others as well, but TigerBlog today is all about the bowl season. Too bad there's nobody on Central Michigan and Troy whose brother or sister was a Princeton athlete. Then the GMAC Bowl would be even more exciting.