This morning I was reading a razor-sharp attack on the Big Ten’s undying allegiance to the Rose Bowl by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. In it, Wetzel treads awfully close to an argument that’s been used by dozens of Big Ten supporters during the recent push to put the semifinals of a new college football playoff — if we actually get a new college football playoff — on campuses, rather than at bowl sites:
“And what about the chance for the Big Ten to finally stop playing games in SEC/Pac-12 country, maybe see if one of those sunshine programs can handle a few flakes of Midwest snow?”
Ah, yes, the weather. You know the line as you’ve probably heard it/read it as many times as this writer has: “SEC teams should have to go play in the cold instead of Big Ten teams always having to go play bowls where it’s hot.”
Whether you like the idea of on-campus semifinals or not — and the SEC would have hosted more games than any other conference under such a set-up, by the way — it’s time to drive a stake through the heart of the “it’s the heat” myth.
Currently, the Big Ten plays three bowl games against SEC teams in the state of Florida — the Capital One in Orlando, the Outback in Tampa, and the Gator in Jacksonville. All are played on New Year’s Day. According to Weather.com:
* The average high in Orlando on that day is 71 degrees with an average low of 50.
* In Tampa, the average high on New Year’s Day is 70 degrees and the average low is 52.
* In Jacksonville, the average high is 65 degrees with an average low of 41.
I’ll buy that Big Ten schools have farther to travel than their SEC counterparts when it comes to bowling in the Sunshine State. I’ll freely admit that the crowds on hand for those games are likely to have a pro-SEC slant. I’ll even admit that seeing SEC teams play in the snow of January would be darn fun.
But the idea that Big Ten teams melt in 50-70 degree temperatures like the Nazis in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Sorry, not buying it. Even the average afternoon humidity in January in those three cities is in the 53-57% range.
Look, if the bowl games were played in Florida on August 1st instead of on January 1st, those many Big Ten folks who’ve been beating the “we have to play in their heat” drum would get my support.
As it stands, however, not even the Saskatchewan Roughriders should wilt at 71 degrees.
Folks who want to make the case for on-campus semifinals — an idea which appears to be dead anyway — can pick from any other number of good reasons. They just need to drop the bit about Big Ten teams playing in Deep South heat. ’Cause in January, there is no Deep South heat.
Unbelievable Update — Those of you who read this site know that we often link you to the work of Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News. We think he’s sharp as a tack (probably because we agree with most of his work). Well, as we were putting today’s headlines together just now — 11:30am ET — we found his latest column: “Big Ten fans: Chill the griping about SEC football weather patterns.”
No wonder we like that guy.