I woke up 12 1/2 hours into 1985, unable to remember 1984. No Matter, I simply stumbled out of bed, found my head rolling around near the night stand and moblized for a meaningless day of marathon football viewing.
Quickly, I took a shower, got dressed, dried myself off and sat down to map out my bowl strategy. My first decision was a tough one -- to watch the Fiesta Bowl and tape the Cotton Bowl on the VCR.
"How could you not watch Doug Flutie live?" my wife pleaded.
As always, she was entitled to her opinion, but as always, I was entitled to ignore it. I took the 19-inch color TV for UCLA and Miami; she got the nine-inch black-and-white set for Boston College and Houston. As a rule, small quarterbacks should be watched on small TVs, I reminded her.
The Fiesta Bowl was an exciting game. NBC's Charlie Jones and steadily improving Bob Griese did a decent job calling it. However, there were a couple of broadcasting miscues. Jones asked Griese if he thought the Orange Bowl should decide the national champion. What would you expect Griese -- a member of the Orange Bowl committee and an employe of the network televising the game -- to say? That the game should have no bearing on No. 1 and that we should watch the CBS movie instead?
And starting the fourth quarter, NBC came back from a commercial after UCLA already had scored a touchdown -- a real network no-no -- but they did show the replay.
The Rose Bowl -- "the granddaddy of them all," as NBC referred to it, I believe, once or twice -- was handled by the network's overrated No. 1 team, Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen.
The pair relied on their usual formula: Enberg doing play by play with shrill hysteria, Olsen providing empty analysis. In just a minute's time during the first half, Olsen demonstrated the extent of his insights, telling us first, "Mistakes, how they will kill you," and then, after a crunching tackle, "Oooh, that hurts all the way up here."
As the Rose Bowl neared its conclusion, I made my next tough decision -- to watch the Sugar Bowl and tape the Orange Bowl on the VCR.
The Sugar Bowl looked like this: ABC's camera coverage was excellent, Tim Brant did decent reports from the sidelines and Keith Jackson and Frank Broyles called the game in that familiar foot-in-mouth fashion they have refined. In the third period, Jackson was heard saying, "He's got a first down as far as yardage is concerned . . ." On national television!!
Finally, it was time for the taped games -- the Orange and Cotton bowls. Two great things about watching games on tape: you can zap out the commercials and, at halftime, you can watch the marching bands in fast forward.
The Orange Bowl highlighted the best and worst of NBC, the most creative network in recent years. NBC experimented with a new "sky cam," which provided interesting new angles. Sometimes, though, this mobile sky cam could be seen blocking other pictures, dangling onto our screen like an errant boom mike on "The Tonight Show."
The Don Criqui/Bob Trumpy duo, sort of a younger Enberg/Olsen team, called the game in forgettable fashion. In the broadcast's final minute, Criqui, perhaps tiring, stumbled on his own name and referred to Brigham Young Coach LaVell Edwards as LaVell Anderson.
The Cotton Bowl reestablished the simple efficiency of CBS Sports. Conservative, stodgy CBS still has the best approach to football -- concentrate the cameras on the field and put the microphones in capable hands. Despite a shaky start -- baby pictures of Doug Flutie are not justifiable under any circumstances -- CBS met its usual high football standards.
Putting microphones on the sidelines helped bring the viewer closer to the coaches. And once again, Lindsey Nelson, calling his 25th Cotton Bowl, was shockingly competent. His voice could derail a train and his suits could start a riot, but he handles play-by-play duties wonderfully.
Had Nelson's colleagues duplicated his excellence and had these games been quarterfinals on the road to a national championship, then perhaps the day would have been meaningful. Instead, it simply created one hangover on top of another.