The Cotton Bowl, which used to be one of the big four bowls, wants back in to the big time.
That was one of the reasons the Cotton Bowl became the Pete Best of bowl games. It was originally among the “Fab Four” of postseason games, along with the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls. But like Best – the original drummer of the Beatles – the Cotton Bowl was unceremoniously dumped from the group for a more appealing fourth member. Best was replaced by Ringo Starr; the Cotton was replaced by the Fiesta Bowl.
Inclement weather, a dying Southwest Conference, a plague of probation within that conference and a deteriorating stadium led to the Cotton Bowl being shunned by the BCS – and exiled into second-tier status – in 1998.
Saturday’s Cotton Bowl between Ole Miss and Oklahoma State was the first played in the billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium, which may be the finest football venue in the country. The retractable-roof domed stadium can seat as many as 111,000. Saturday’s crowd for the Ole Miss-Oklahoma State contest was 77,928 – the second-largest in Cotton history. The stadium already is set as the venue for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the 2011 Super Bowl and the 2014 NCAA men’s Final Four.
It may be just a matter of time – four years, perhaps – before the BCS wants to stage one of its games there, too.
I have no doubt it’ll get it, the old-fashioned way: it’ll buy its way in. Nobody in sports shouts nouveau riche like Jerry Jones does.
And based on what I saw watching the Cotton Bowl this weekend, that will be a sad thing. That was the most sterile environment I’ve seen a bowl game played in (and how weirdly appropriate was it to hear Pat Summerall calling the game?). The crowd strangely muted and removed from the field (which reminded me of my first Spring Training trip to the Mets’ new ballpark that had the stands much farther away from the field of play and removed about 90% of the charm of being there). Players and coaches constantly looking up at that monster of a replay screen.
Like I said, sad and sterile. Kind of like the NFL.