Bowl games produced wonderful memories

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, December 25, 2018

I always looked forward to this time of year.

The two-week period between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 always satisfied my taste for college football. The countless bowl games, especially when it came to covering them.

Twenty-five of my 26 years in the journalism business were spent being involved with a bowl game. This is the first year I’m not part of any bowl coverage.

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All of those years involved the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, which was 90 minutes away from The Biloxi-Sun Herald.

I saw Alabama win national championships in 1993 and 2012, then lose Sugar Bowls during the 2008 and 2013 seasons. I was also there when the Crimson Tide split a pair of college playoff games in 2014 and 2017.

I also got to see an unbeaten Auburn team in 2004 win a Sugar Bowl contest.  I believed that Tiger team should’ve had a chance to play for the national title.

Having multiple Mississippi teams in bowl games gave me an opportunity to see another part of the country.

Here are some of my greatest hits outside of Alabama and Auburn:

The 1998 Humanitarian Bowl stands out in Boise, Idaho. Southern Miss lost to Idaho 42-35 on a blue football turf.  An hour before kickoff, birds migrated on the field. My first and only attempt at skiing ended with my rear end in the snow on Dec. 29, 1998.

The 1997 Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan is another memorable one. I had family 45 miles away in Detroit. Ole Miss beat Marshall 37-34. The Thundering Herd was led by wide receiver Randy Moss, who’s now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Moss was unstoppable that day.

The 2003 GMAC Bowl in Mobile didn’t involve any of the Mississippi teams, but I was curious to see Miami Ohio quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, known as “Big Ben.” Roethlisberger lived up to the hype. He eventually led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a pair of Super Bowl wins and considered a future Hall of Famer.

I’m looking forward to the College football playoffs this weekend and see if Alabama coach Nick Saban will be in position to break Bear Bryant’s national title record.