New Year's Day, 1988: a time of reflection, a time of resolution, a time of reckoning. But most importantly, a time of replays -- hundreds of them, one after another, beamed into our living rooms over an unprecedented 12-hour period of gluttonous football viewing that makes you want to open your front door and shout to the world, "Is this a great country, or what?"
It was an all-you-can-stand bowl buffet, and even though I couldn't stand most of it, I want my great-great grandchildren to know that I didn't sleep through this wonderful holiday; rather, I woke up at the crack of noon to watch six bowl games on three networks. Here then, for future generations, is my chronicle of despair:
12:02 p.m.: ABC's Gary Bender, in his most compelling, stirring voice, opens the day by previewing what he calls the "classic matchup" in the Florida Citrus Bowl between 8-3 Penn State and 9-2 Clemson.
12:08: Lee Iacocca introduces Chrysler's newest car, the Eagle. I make a note to buy one as soon as the game is over.
12:18: Bender's ABC partner, Lynn Swann, explains why field position is so important. He concludes that a team with good field position has a better chance of scoring.
1:30: NBC's "Gayle Storm" continues. Last week, it was Gayle Sierens throwing males for a loss by doing play-by-play on an NFL game. This day, it's Gayle Gardner debuting as a studio anchor. Usually, I give my wife $250 on New Year's Day and send her to 7-Eleven for the afternoon to clear the house; Gardner probably earns more from NBC and, thus, will be more difficult to buy off.
1:31: CBS' Brent Musburger begins the Cotton Bowl telecast. Musburger is in high spirits; this, after all, is a leap year, giving him a rare opportunity to work 366 days in the same year.
1:43: The Notre Dame fight song is played at the Cotton Bowl, unofficially signaling the beginning of the New Year's Day bowl fest.
1:48: Bender refers to Penn State's Joe Paterno as a "coaching legend" for the fourth time in 96 minutes.
1:50: The Citrus Bowl halftime show is highlighted when a group of people line up on the field to form the state of Florida (smaller than its actual size) with an orange heart on top of it.
1:55: During the Fiesta Bowl, NBC's Charlie Jones explains that half of his mail will be from Florida State fans saying he didn't do a good game because he was biased toward Nebraska and half of his mail will be from Nebraska folks complaining about a Florida State bias. Well, I'm from Washington, D.C., and I don't think he was biased either way; however, I also don't think he did a good job.
2:11: I drink a Lite Beer from Miller while watching another inane Bud Light commercial.
3:15: Bert Convy appears briefly on NBC, wrapping up the Tournament of Roses parade from earlier in the day. I throw a beer bottle in anger, smashing one of the three TV sets ushering in the New Year for me.
3:21: After Clemson's Citrus Bowl victory, Coach Danny Ford tells ABC sideline reporter Steve Alvarez, "I appreciate the job you all did." It was not immediately clear if Ford had been watching the ABC telecast from the sideline during the game.
3:30: ABC's Keith Jackson, who is College Football As We Know It Today, makes his '88 debut on the Sugar Bowl. He says it is his 14th or 15th Sugar Bowl telecast. "I can't remember," he tells partner Bob Griese.
3:35: The Cotton Bowl halftime show ends several days after it began.
3:36: With Notre Dame trailing Texas A&M, 18-10, Musburger asks analyst Pat Haden if the Fighting Irish should go for a one-point conversion or a two-point conversion if they score a touchdown.
5:09: NBC's Merlin Olsen begins his day of Rose Bowl cliches by telling us, "You can feel the electricity in this stadium." And the stadium lights didn't even go on until the second half.
6:32: I make a pledge for a lifetime boycott of NBC's "Hunter" series because of the show's intrusive promos during the day.
6:45: My wife and her divorce lawyer stand in front of my remaining two TV sets, insisting I sign some papers. I give them each $250 to come back after the weekend.
7:25: NBC repeats its now tiresome gimmick of having us listen to a Japanese broadcast of the Rose Bowl. (Now, I wouldn't mind if, just once, they presented a few minutes of the game in pig Latin.)
9:12: During the Orange Bowl, NBC details the dozens of pro prospects on Miami and Oklahoma, which suggests that perhaps this so-called national collegiate title game should have been rescheduled as an NFL wild-card game for today.
9:30: I run out and order a MacIntosh computer from Apple.
10:32: The Orange Bowl halftime show, which takes on all the earmarks of a miniseries, ends.
11:13: Orange Bowl analyst Bob Trumpy shouts out, "Fumble!" when there is a fumble. Trumpy generally will interrupt his NBC play-by-play partner, Don Criqui, with a one-man chorus of "Fumble!" anytime there is a fumble.
11:54: President Reagan calls to congratulate me on a championship day of viewing. He gets my answering machine, though; I never like being disturbed while watching "The All New Dating Game."