Twenty years ago. Tom Starr was the director of the Anaheim-based Freedom Bowl, then in its second year in the suffocating shadow of the Rose Bowl. I was working at the Orange County Register in Southern California, interviewing Starr as we waited in line at fast-food joint.
"Last year it was always Freedom who? Freedom what?" Starr told me. "Now that we've been here a full year the nice thing is you don't hear that anymore. Everybody knows about us now."
Just then, the worker behind the counter asked Starr, "What's going on here?"
"Oh, I'm the director of the Freedom Bowl and Tom here is with the Register and he's interviewing me," Starr explained.
The worker with a dismissive wave of the hand said, "Oh, never mind. I thought you guys were talking about sports."
The Freedom Bowl never did take off, but Starr has had a long and mostly successful career in the college bowl scene. Where is he now? He's the director of the Fort Worth Bowl, a likely destination for Kansas University if it extends this season's perfect Memorial Stadium record to 6-0.
Iowa State 21, Kansas 20: The Cyclones are one tough out. As for the fate of Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino, win or lose he'll be back. You don't defeat Missouri three years in a row and beat Nebraska for the first time since 1968 and lose your job.
Oklahoma 28, Oklahoma State 17: Sooners will take out their anger over last week's controversial finish in loss to Texas Tech on the Cowboys.
Notre Dame 38, Stanford 31: Charlie Weis attained offensive guru status as coordinator for the New England Patriots and has done nothing but enhance his reputation as head coach of the Fighting Irish. ND is averaging 38.2 points per game against a tough schedule. Brady Quinn, a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate, has been spectacular. The Cardinal, playing its last game at old Stanford Stadium, should be emotionally charged because of that, but it won't be enough.
Florida 34, Florida State 13: It's been three weeks since either team has won a game, but anyone involved with either side of this rivalry won't be thinking about that. Florida State will play in the ACC championship game and if the Seminoles win that will play in a BCS bowl game. This game means more to the Gators' chances of appealing to major bowls. Plus, Florida State freshman quarterback has thrown as many picks (15) as touchdown passes.
Georgia 20, Georgia Tech 17: Georgia's two losses, to Florida and Auburn, came by a combined five points. That's how close the Bulldogs are to a perfect season. In terms of taking care of the ball, Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley has been near perfect. He has thrown only four interceptions and has 18 touchdown passes. The Bulldogs' defense, particularly tough against the pass, has allowed just 15.4 points a game and only five touchdown passes. Still, stopping Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson is never an easy chore.
Pittsburg State 48, Northwest Missouri State 38: This is a rematch of a regular season game won by Pitt State, 56-35, after the Gorillas got out to a 42-14 lead at the half. Andre Rector had 200 receiving yards in a losing effort. Pitt State, coming off a 41-3 win over a strong West Texas A&M team, is peaking at the perfect time. Junior running back Germaine Race is not only Pitt State's best player, he is in the running to be named the best player in Division II. Race is on of eight finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy. Race has 32 touchdowns and has averaged 153 rushing yards a game. He rushed for 180 yards on 23 carries in the regular season.
(The contest is currently closed. Good luck to all who entered.)