You just never know

You just never know
By Terry Bowden, Yahoo Sports
July 30, 2007

Terry Bowden
Yahoo Sports
As we get closer to the opening of the college football season, it'll be time for me to start making my predictions about what the teams, players and conferences will do this year. In looking forward to this season, I can't help but look back at my last eight years as a broadcaster and analyst for clues as to what we might see this year. If history is any indicator, we're in for another knee-knockin', heart-stoppin', incredible season.

There have been so many memorable championship games since I've been broadcasting; going back to that very first one when Florida State held on to beat Virginia Tech 46-29 in the 2000 Sugar Bowl (after the 1999 regular season). Wasn't it great back then when the only thing we discussed about Michael Vick was the incredible athlete he was on the field? I'll never forget my postgame comments about Vick: "He has a way of making athletes look unathletic."

I also remember how I wished that Florida State would hurry up and lose a game so that I could sound objective and say something bad about my ol' man. You know the old saying: "Be careful what you wish for."

Three years after that, we saw what many then thought was the greatest championship game of all time, as Maurice Clarett's Ohio State Buckeyes edged out the Miami Hurricanes with a double -overtime win in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. To this day, not one Ohio State or Miami fan will agree on that 4th-and-3 pass interference call in the end zone in the first overtime, which kept the Buckeyes alive.

Then just to prove how short "of all time" is, USC and Texas staged an even more incredible championship in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Future NFL great Vince Young led his Longhorns to a come-from-behind victory by completing 75 percent of his passes and rushing for three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 19 seconds left. Then he put an exclamation point on his performance by running in the two-point conversion to clinch the game, 41-38. I said at the beginning of that season (and many of you doubted me) and I'll say it again now, that son of a gun is going to be a great NFL player.

Speaking of players, we found out in December 1999 that the Heisman Trophy can be just as much about the body of work as it is about the body. Wisconsin's Ron Dayne won the Heisman in 1999 when he finished the season as the NCAA's all-time rushing leader with 6,279 career yards. Then in 2005, USC's Reggie Bush took home the hardware by being the most talented running back to come out of college football in the last 25 years.

Don't we all agree the difference between college football and the NFL is the atmosphere of the big game? Last year, within an eight-day period I watched football with more than 210,000 crazed college football fans. It started with Wisconsin at Michigan in "the Big House" – and they call it the Big House for 107,501 reasons. Then I was off to Knoxville to see the Florida Gators beat the Tennessee Volunteers in front of more than 104,000 people – just one of the Gators' stops on the way to the national championship. I don't care what they say; there ain't no Ann Arbor or Knoxville in the NFL.

However, when it comes to history and pageantry, it's not just about the numbers. With no championship on the line, but purely for bragging rights for so many men and women around the world, the Army-Navy game is a college football experience that every American should get to be a part of at least once. This is the only game in America where every student from both institutions attends the game.

While broadcasting my first Army-Navy game last year, it was incredible to look out into the stadium full of uniformed spectators. Even more impressive to me was that when the game was over, I watched the Midshipmen stand on their sideline to sing their alma mater – with the Cadets standing right behind them. Then I watched as both teams walked across the field as the Cadets sang their alma mater, with the Midshipmen standing right behind them. It gave me chill bumps then – and I've got them again right now just thinking about it – and it made me very proud to be an American.

Today's game is full of great young coaches who all seem to be winning championships in their first couple of years like Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer. But let's not forget we are witnessing a very special time right now, with the two winningest coaches in the history of Division I-A college football, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, coaching at the same time. They are 80 and 77 years old, respectively, with tenures at their schools in excess of 30 years, the likes of which probably never will be seen again in this "what have you done for me lately" society.

So if the past eight years are any indication of what the 2007 season will hold, there is no doubt in my mind that we're in for a great one.

It's funny, though, just when you think you've got it all figured out – which games will be the big ones, which players will play great, which coaches will have great seasons – a team like Boise State will jump up and bite you in the fanny. But that's what makes the game of college football the greatest game on earth and the sport that I love so much.

I certainly thought I had it all figured out. I'm undefeated in every game I've written about here on Yahoo! Sports. Those seats in the studio, the booth and the press box are as good as it gets. They give you that bird's eye view of all the action. But after all these years, I've come to a very personal realization.

Folks, I just can't sit and watch anymore. I need to be standing on the sideline. I need to reach down and pick some grass to toss into the wind. I need to scream in a quarterback's ear. I need to reach up and grab that linebacker by the facemask. I need to call the play that wins – or loses – the game. As much as I love writing about the game, I just need to be a part of the action again.

I sure am excited for the 2007 season, but I'm even more excited about what may come in 2008.

Terry Bowden is Yahoo! Sports' college football analyst. For more information about Terry, visit his official web site.

Send Terry a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Jul 30, 2007 10:07 am, EDT

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