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THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: The more bowls the better – however they are filled

To me, the Rose Bowl is USC vs. Ohio State.
Oregon vs. Wisconsin.
Washington vs. Michigan.
And so on.
Washington State vs. Oklahoma, while good for the Cougs, was kinda weird to watch.
TCU vs. Wisconsin was even weirder.
Some of the other matchups — BCS title games and College Football Playoff games — were Rose Bowls in name only.
So while it’s nice to hear the Rose Bowl will be part of the bowl rotation when the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams in 2024 — hosting either a quarterfinal or a semifinal game each year, and perhaps the occasional title game — it’s another step away from what we liked best when we thought of Pasadena once a year.
THINGS CHANGE and that’s fine; most bowls stopped being “traditional” years ago.
The Cotton Bowl hasn’t been modern enough to host the Cotton Bowl in years.
The Orange Bowl isn’t played at the Orange Bowl — heck, that stadium isn’t even around anymore.
The Peach Bowl used to be played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium — often in the rain.
But the Rose Bowl, on New Year’s Day at 2 p.m., with no other games going up against it in that time slot, is about as traditional as it gets.
Especially when the game was always Pac-12 (often USC) vs. Big Ten (usually Ohio State or Michigan).
IN THE “olden days,” and maybe it was just naivete, but all the bowls seemed equally important — the Liberty Bowl seemed just as cool as the Orange Bowl, it was just played before Christmas, not on New Year’s Day.
Now, if a team like Alabama isn’t in the College Football Playoff semifinals, it seems like the Crimson Tide is playing in the Consolation Bowl.
People these days probably don’t understand back when, on New Year’s Day, we woke up and watched bowl games all day — the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl and then the Orange Bowl — then often had to wait ‘til the next day to find out who the national champion was.
Or who the national champions were.
THESE DAYS, whatever the format, even though there are way too many bowl games, and way too many average teams playing in them, I don’t mind — if for no other reason, it’s good programming for the holidays.
Something to enjoy while you finish off what’s left of the prime rib.
Gimme a good Belk Bowl — as long as the two teams are into it. If not … bring somebody else in.
Today, we’ll find out where Washington State and the others are headed for their bowl games.
One thing that would be cool to see tweaked in the current bowl format — which conferences went to which bowls.
Currently, the Pac-12 has tie-ins to the Rose Bowl, Alamo Bowl (San Antonio), Holiday Bowl (San Diego), Las Vegas Bowl, Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas) and the L.A. Bowl.
Not to diss on San Antonio, but once you’ve remembered the Alamo and floated the Riverwalk a time or two …
(Then again, a trip to the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, just southwest of Austin, for some of the best all-you-can-eat barbecue you’ll ever find, might be reason enough to return to the Alamo Bowl).
I realize most bowl tie-ins are somewhat regional, for ease of travel for the fans.
But what if a Pac-12 team could be sent somewhere else for a change?
I mean, they can send the Lovable Zags to, say, Buffalo, for the NCAA tournament. Why can’t a Pac-12 team go to Birmingham, or Boston, or Orlando, or Memphis, or …
You don’t think Coug fans would mind spending a week in Nashville every now and then for the Music City Bowl, cruising the honky tonks and eating fried bologna sandwiches?
I’M ALSO a big fan of the Cereal Bowl, and not just the one that’s filled with Grape Nuts Flakes, or a mixture of Cheerios and Rice Krispies.
I’m talking about the annual youth soccer and flag football championship games held at The Fields at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.
Which, in their own way, are just as tasty as those other bowl games.
Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 208-664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.

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