Iowa Football

A bowl game at Wrigley Field? Aw, why not?

You get a bowl, and you get a bowl, and you get a bowl!

College football at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Nov 20, 2010. Northwestern played Illinois. (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)
College football at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on Nov 20, 2010. Northwestern played Illinois. (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s been said if you live long enough you’ll see everything.

That used to seem ridiculous. Many things simply were not possible. Ah, we were younger and so naive back then. And by “back then,” of course I mean 2015.

There’s no need to give you a laundry list of things that have happened in the last year or two that you would previously have dismissed as fiction, satire, or bat-guano insanity. You’re all too aware. It feels like we should be wearing hard hats 24/7. Every day, something comes at us from deepest right field.

Speaking of a baseball park, not all the craziness is harmful. Some is just harmlessly crazy. Such as the news the Chicago Cubs apparently will host an annual bowl game at Wrigley Field, starting in 2020. That’s one of three more new FBS bowls the NCAA will sanction, bringing the total to 43.

Last season 69 percent (44 of 64) of all Power Five conference members participated in bowls. Here’s a little secret: Not all of those games were prestigious. It’s rumored nine of every 10 residents of Boca Raton, Fla., can’t name the bowl that’s played there.

It’s the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl, by the way. That’s a mouthful.

Bowls once were reserved for semi-logical winter destinations. Then they started coming to Boise and Detroit and Albuquerque, places you would only visit between Christmas and New Year’s only if the airport you were headed to was closed and your plane had to land elsewhere.

On the other hand, New York might continue to attract tourists even if didn’t have a bowl. Yankee Stadium calls its postseason contest the Pinstripe Bowl. “Holiday on Ice” was already taken.

Last year, Jim Beam became the Official Spirits Provider of the Chicago Cubs, so you know the Cubs don’t mind getting their catchers’ mitts on every possible dollar. Thus, they’re joining the bowl roster, though late-December weather on Chicago’s north side tends to be wintry.

Apparently, the conferences affiliated with the Cubs Bowl or whatever it will be called (the Jim Beam Cubs Bowl?) will be the Big Ten and the ACC. The game will take the place of the San Francisco Bowl among the Big Ten’s bowl affiliations.

So, Iowa’s last chance to play in the San Francisco Bowl (now hosted by the San Francisco 49ers) is this year. If you aren’t familiar with the San Francisco Bowl, it’s played in Santa Clara, 39 miles from San Francisco and three miles from San Jose, a city of a million people.

“San Jose Bowl” doesn’t have the same allure as a handle, though nobody finds the San Francisco Bowl all that captivating, either. If you aren’t familiar with the San Francisco Bowl, it was the Foster Farms Bowl last year. Before that, it was the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Before that, it was the Emerald Bowl. Before that, it was the San Francisco Bowl.

The announced attendance for last year’s Boston College-Iowa Pinstripe Bowl was 37,667. The announced attendance for last year’s Arizona-Purdue Foster Farms Bowl was 28,436. But 4 million people watched the Pinstripe on television, and 2.1 million viewed the Foster Farms Bowl.

Which is why three more bowls are joining the mix, and why more teams with 5-7 records will play in postseason games. Hey, not every game has to be a blockbuster, especially since this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Blockbuster Bowl changing its name to the Carquest Bowl.

If two 6-6 teams meet in Wrigley Field in late December with a frigid wind blowing in off Lake Michigan and they’re OK with it, who are we to complain? Forget about your cares and worries, and be happy your team isn’t in Detroit instead.

I have long said the only bowl game is the Rose Bowl. But if you imbibe enough of the product made by the Official Spirits Provider of the Chicago Cubs, you can pretend the Wrigley Field bowl is just as meaningful.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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