* We all know the reality of bowl games these day. There are too many of them, ESPN has too much input and too many have to invite teams that, because of unimpressive or flat-out, non-winning seasons, don’t deserve to go to a bowl in the first place. Then there are the sponsor names. Some sound better than others. Tampa’s own Outback Bowl, for example, actually sounds like a bowl game. The Cheez-it Bowl in Phoenix, uh, doesn’t.
* USF will be at RayJay for the Gasparilla Bowl against (favored) Marshall later this month. It’s the Bulls’ consolation prize while on a five-game losing streak. Meanwhile, nationally ranked UCF, which has won 25 straight and routed USF two weeks ago, will play LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. It wasn’t that long ago that USF, then in the Big East, was less than willing to keep UCF, then of the Mid-American and Conference USA, on the schedule, because it was a step down to play them–and you get no credit for beating an inferior opponent. That was then; this is not.
* Let’s hear it for the winning women of Florida State and the University of Tampa. In Cary, N.C., FSU won the women’s soccer national championship, and UT won the NCAA Division II national volleyball championship in Pittsburgh. But, no, this is not nearly consolation enough for FSU football fans.
* The Lightning is still without its injured ace goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It hasn’t slowed them down. When forced to go with back-up goalies for an extended period, it helps–a lot–to have the highest-scoring team in the NHL.
* The Washington Redskins found a way to divert media attention from their ongoing, unconscionable defense of “Redskins.” They were the only team to waiver claim Reuben Foster, the former San Francisco 49ers linebacker who had been arrested for domestic violence. SF summarily released him after a viral video showed Foster shoving and kicking a woman–and nobody but Washington wanted any part of Foster and his domestic-violence baggage.
* Vanity license plate: I get it. I used to have one: “Nittany.” It’s what you do when you’re a proud alum of Penn State–and before anyone had ever heard of Jerry Sandusky. Our current plate features a sea turtle. It’s about a cause. But I don’t get a Buccaneers plate. This is de facto marketing by private enterprise. Shouldn’t they pay you?