This college football bowl season is like a brand of Chex Mix that comes with a bunch of nuts you don't really care to eat. Sure, there's a handful of enticing matchups that are worthy of your time for three or so hours. But by the time you're done picking through to the good ones, you realize there's not much left.
Well, there are other things to do this holiday season.
Like, go ice skating.
Or, check out all the pretty lights.
Whatever it is, there's never been a better reason to spend some time some real quality time with your friends and family.
Believe us, you won't be missing a thing if you tune out what will soon be running virtually nonstop on your plasma screen, in all its high-def ugliness. This is nothing more than a bunch of meaningless contests between mediocre teams, a lineup that that makes "Honey Boo Boo" look like "Downton Abbey."
Call it Must-Miss TV.
The guys who run the system clearly take us as nothing but a bunch of suckers, willing to watch whatever drivel they put before us as long they attach the word "bowl" to some product they're pushing.
When the complete list of bowls was finally unveiled in all its glory Sunday night, most of the attention turned to Northern Illinois, a team that somehow made the Orange Bowl after losing to Iowa (which won 33 percent of its games) and barely beating Army and Kansas (who combined for a grand total of three victories).
But let's not take out our wrath on the ... uh, hmmm ... whatever their nickname is. We should actually be saluting the MAC champs, because they're like a single minnow swimming ahead bravely to take on the BCS sharks, all while making an already ludicrous system look even sillier.
Besides, there's plenty of bowl games that are far more objectionable than the one in Miami between the Seminoles of Florida State and the ... uh, hmm ... oh yeah, the Huskies, that's it, of Northern Illinois.
The good folks of El Paso will be subjected to a Sun Bowl featuring a team with a losing record (Georgia Tech) and perhaps the most underachieving squad in all the land (USC).
The Yellow Jackets (6-7) needed a waiver from the NCAA before they could accept their invitation. The Trojans lost five times after starting the season at No. 1.
"We're excited about a very good bowl and a great matchup," said USC coach Lane Kiffin, who we can only assume awoke the next morning to find his nose had grown by a foot or two.
But, who knows, maybe one of Kiffin's minions will go all rogue again and deflate the tires on the team buses. That way, they can't leave their hotels and no one would have to be subjected to such a marquee matchup.
Though, we must say, this game might have some car-crash appeal if held in conjunction with a Kiffin family reunion. The bratty coach already dumped his 72-year-old dad because of the team's defensive woes, and he surely would be willing to jettison a few more relatives if the Trojans lost again.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, was blown out at home by Middle Tennessee, lost its final regular-season game by 32 points and wound up with a losing record after getting into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by default, the next team in line after Miami decided to spend another postseason in self-imposed lockdown.
Even after losing the ACC game, the Yellow Jackets still got the call that extended their bowl streak to 16 years in a row.
Talk about an achievement worthy of an asterisk.
But, this isn't about one particular school. There's plenty of averageness to go around.
A dozen teams received bowl bids with records of 6-6, which is often the sort of mark that gets a coach fired, not earns his team a trip at the holidays. (Or, in the case of Purdue, was bowl-worthy AND got the coach fired).
In fact, there are two games matching a pair of 6-6 teams Rice vs Air Force in the Armed Services Bowl at Fort Worth (sorry, our men and women in uniform) and Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Birmingham.
When those kind of teams get together, they're hoping you throw out the record book.
Instead, you should change the channel.
Yet, none of the 35 bowls could find a spot for Louisiana Tech, the highest-scoring team in the country, a squad that won nine times and barely lost to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in one of the most entertaining games of the season.
The Bulldogs apparently weren't too thrilled about the idea of going to the nearby Independence Bowl to dance with another team from their own state (Louisiana-Monroe). They thought they had might get a call from someone more handsome. The Independence was all, like, why you disrespectin' us, girlfriend? So they called up Ohio (University, not State), which said "yes."
"Under no circumstances did I ever think there was any possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game," Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. "It is a shame that our nationally recognized team and its 31 seniors have to end the season this way."
No, the real shame is that college football ends its season this way.
We're promised a playoff in 2014, but we should see through that four-team ruse. It's a way to silence everyone who wants a legitimate playoff (16 teams, minimum) and keep alive the bowl system, nothing more than a nonprofit scam lining the pockets of its operators with exorbitant salaries for the taxing job of putting on one game a year.
Maybe if the fans stop watching, there will be a true playoff.
Maybe if the fans stop buying tickets, all these meaningless games will wither up and die.
There's no better time to start than now.
Happy Bowl Season!
Now, go do something else.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.or or www.twitter.com