Measuring Charleston's appetite for bowl game: It would be tastier as Shrimp and Grits Bowl
We're going to land somewhere on the college football landscape between laughingstock and poster town for too many bowl games. You realize that, right?
Research indicates it's technically possible for Lowcountry residents to accept a proposed new bowl game for Charleston.
Yes, despite the C-list matchups, minor TV deal, suspect economic impact math, Confederate flag flap, facility issues and weather concerns, it might work.
First order of business: Change the proposed name.
Organizers insist on calling our very own Charleston football showpiece the … (drumbeat) … Legends Bowl, and they aim for a December 2014 kickoff at The Citadel's 21,000-seat Johnson Hagood Stadium. Real “Legends” in college football are Knute Rockne, Eddie Robinson, Bear Bryant, Archie Griffin, Herschel Walker and Tim Tebow, not semi-legendary stars in a December television alternative to “Michael Buble on Ice.”
Renaming this concept the Shrimp and Grits Bowl would give the game Lowcountry flavor and make relocation awkward.
After that the bowl game can get over the hurdles, lunge by lunge:
With the Mid-American Conference vs. the Sun Belt Conference, we're talking about, oh, a Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks clash. Not exactly Ali-Frazier. But players from programs like this are exceptionally excited about a bowl appearance, more so than jaded sixth-place teams that began the season hoping to represent major conferences in bigger bowl games.
A 39th bowl game
Just this week deals were struck for three bowl games. The Bahamas joins Boca Raton, Fla., and Montgomery, Ala., as new sites for 2014. That's 38 bowl games. With not enough deserving records to go around, old-schoolers say. But part of holiday fun in America is having live college football — a proven reality TV brand — on as many days as possible.
NBC Sports Network
The Legends (soon to be Shrimp and Grits) Bowl showcase, not to be confused with regular over-the-air NBC. It's not ESPN, ESPNU or ESPN8 (The Ocho). It's not Al Jazeera America, either.
Someone on the bowl committee came up with an estimated $7 million. But I added up the number of players on the Central Michigan and Louisiana-Monroe rosters, added 3.5 parents/siblings/girlfriends for each and still couldn't reach $7 million in disposable Charleston income for a bowl trip. But males between 18 and 22 will eat a lot of bar food, that's for sure. Hopefully, the marching bands will come and one of them will play the Music Farm.
Charleston temperatures in December should be between 40 degrees and 60 degrees. Ideal football weather. Very ideal if you're from the central part of Michigan.
The NAACP apparently isn't going to budge for a Charleston bowl game in its protest over a Confederate flag flying on Statehouse grounds in Columbia. The NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL, PGA Tour and WTA have ignored the protest with exhibition games, training camps or tournaments in South Carolina. The NCAA takes the NAACP seriously. But is the NAACP keeping us from a small-time bowl matchup or saving us?
Only a 21,000 capacity at Johnson Hagood? No problem. The Bahamas bowl game is set for a 15,000-seat stadium and the Boca Raton game will be played at Florida Atlantic's 29,000-seat facility. Smaller, the better. Fewer empty seats on camera
It's a long run to the Charleston end zone, and still a longshot. But it's destined to be “the short-lived Legends Bowl” without a change.
The Shrimp and Grits Bowl by any other name is not as tasty.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff