Why did Cowboys Stadium hijack my Cotton Bowl?
New Year’s Day felt a little bit different this year as a college football fan. It wasn’t because the BCS championship game wasn’t being played on the most sacred day in all of college football — I’m used to watching that contest absurdly late in the season.
The day felt strange because the Cotton Bowl wasn’t being played — one of the traditionally underrated games of the bowl season, in my opinion.
Oklahoma State and Ole Miss will match up on Saturday afternoon in this year’s version of the Cotton Bowl — but the game won’t even be played at the actual Cotton Bowl. No, those days are over. We’ll no longer be treated to seeing the Big 12-SEC showdown in “The House That Doak Built.” Rather, starting this year, the game will be played at “The House That Jerry Jones Built” — the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
After 73 years, the Cotton Bowl has moved to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ billion-dollar new stadium.
Now, Cowboys Stadium looks to be a masterpiece from everything I’ve heard, seen and read. Don’t get me wrong, it sets the standard for the modern stadium. But at what cost are we tinkering with tradition?
National champions were crowned in the real Cotton Bowl. Heisman Trophy winners played in the actual Cotton Bowl.
I understand that change occurs over time, and that the biggest argument in major college football is for a playoff — which would be the ultimate major change. But there was something special about watching a New Year’s Day game at the archaic and simple Cotton Bowl. Even after the stadium was renovated in 2008, it still exuded an old-school college football feel — even though I wasn’t too happy about the now fully encircled second deck.
Nonetheless, I looked forward every New Year’s Day to seeing a Southwest/Big 12 conference team tangle with its SEC opponent in a battle of power conference foes. And there was something about CBS televising the game — maybe because it was a nice alternative to the seemingly always vanilla Gator Bowl on NBC.
And while I wasn’t yet around to see the Joe Montana “chicken soup” game in 1979, you can bet I was thoroughly informed of it by my older brothers at an early age.
Not only was the Cotton Bowl home of a major college bowl game, but it was also featured in two Journey videos, a Poison video, a made-for-TV film and a daytime soap opera. Now that’s impressive, right?
Again, I have no problem with Cowboys Stadium at all. But doesn’t Jerry Jones have enough already? He booked the Oklahoma-BYU game from earlier this year at his stadium, landed a college basketball game there last month and will almost certainly be hosting a WrestleMania there sometime soon.
Why did he have to take my Cotton Bowl away from me?
I understand that weather considerations partly triggered the move, as Cowboys Stadium features a retractable roof. The Montana game in ’79 featured below-zero wind chills; thirteen turnovers caused by rain plagued the 1992 game between Florida State and Texas A&M. But isn’t an occasional crazy day of weather part of what makes college football — and outdoor sports in general — unique?
Perhaps the game between the Cowboys and Rebels will feature something memorable. Maybe QBs Jevan Snead and Zac Robinson combine for 1,000 passing yards. Who knows?
All I know is, New Years Day — er, the day after New Years Day — at the Cotton Bowl will never feel the same.
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