THE TV – “Third down and four, or maybe it’s fourth down and three. I’m getting giddy, folks. This is my third game in four days, or maybe it’s my fourth game in three days,” says the announcer. I am watching football games on TV, just warming up for the final push, because there will be 40 bowl games this season, probably meaning 80 teams. It used to be that only college teams with good records got to play in post-season games. Now teams with mediocre seasons are bowl bound. Tulane, BYU and Oklahoma State, each with 6-6 records, are in. And even those with winning records are playing in some odd-ball games. We can see the Texas Aggies play North Carolina State in something called the Taxslayer Bowl, and TCU is against California in the Cheez-It Bowl.
UH is fighting Army in – of all things — the Armed Forces Bowl. If the officials in that game are wearing chevrons on their sleeves, don’t bet on the Coogs. Be sure to catch the Cotton Bowl (Clemson vs. Notre Dame) which is no longer played in the Cotton Bowl. The Alamo Bowl does not feature Santa Anna’s army against Texians, but those local favorites in San Antonio, Washington State and Iowa State. The Southeastern Conference has 14 teams. Nine of them are in bowls. (History trivia: The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game, but what are the second oldest? The Sun Bowl in El Paso has been played since 1935. Along with the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl, sleepy El Paso hosts the second-oldest bowl game.)
We can watch college football until the championship play-off on Jan. 7. Meanwhile, the NFL continues, ending with its Super Bowl on Feb. 3, then football season is over. Wait. The All American Football League is coming. Plans are for the AAFL to give fans spring games. The season begins play Feb. 9, 2019, six days after Super Bowl in Atlanta. The plan is to put a franchise in Houston and use Rice Stadium. Wait again. Apparently, after all the hoopla, the All American Football League never even kicked off.
But don’t worry, football fans, the XFL has arisen from its ashes and will begin play again in 2020. Houston gets a team, and TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston will be its home field. You remember the XFL. It fielded teams like the Outlaws, Enforcers and Hitmen, but is best remembered for the player who had “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey. The league lasted exactly one season, then died due to a lack of fans and NBC cancelled its contract. The man behind both the old and future XFL is Jim McMahon, who also owns World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., or WWE. McMahon says he likes the UH facilities so much he might bring WWE matches to the Fertitta Center on campus. Good. Then UH students can watch the Undertaker smash a chair over Mad Chainsaw Gore — the howls of Ivy.
Joining Houston among the eight XFL charter cities are teams in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York-New Jersey, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C. Names for the teams have not been decided, but that presents a problem for us. Houston already has a team named the Texans. In the past we have had pro football teams named the Terror/Thunderbears, Outlaws (yes, Outlaws), Marshals, Wild Riders, Texas Cyclones, Lightning and Stallions. Maybe the Bayou Boys. No, that sounds juvenile. Same with Space Cadets. Astronauts isn’t bad.
Incidentally, the name Houston Texans almost wasn’t. While the new franchise was being put together, a handful of team names were trademarked for possible use, including Apollos, Bobcats, Challengers, Colt 45’s, Energy, Hurricanes, Roughnecks, Roughriders, Roustabouts, Stallions, Stormcats, Texans, Texians, Toros, Wildcats, Wildcatters, and Wranglers. (The Houston Energies? Well, Houston’s NFL team does play in NRG Stadium, which is close.) After almost a year of speculation, the team was officially christened the Houston Texans. Owner Bob McNair declared that he wanted to name the team the Stallions, but changed his mind, thank goodness, since the horses were overused in the league what with the Denver Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts and a logo used by the (then) San Diego Chargers. Texans was picked to be “something unique to Houston and the NFL” as well as representative of the bravery of early Texans.
The NFL tried to expand into Europe, which was a bust. But if the XFL wants to try Europe, what names? There could be the London Bridges and Moscow Mules (that’s a drink). The Paris Hiltons would be X-rated. I like the Nice Guys, but they would finish last. The Berlin Walls is as outdated as the New England Patriots. How about going worldwide with the Perth Snatchers or the Bermuda Triangles? The Colombia Drug Lords could probably get a sponsor. The Peking Ducks won’t do since no one orders Beijing Duck. The Panama Hats, the Argentine Don’t Cry for Me’s, maybe the Hamelin (Germany) Pied Pipers, the Roman Coliseums (the Lions would be tasteless), the Hamburg Helpers or the Kiev Chickens. I guess the Asian Flues wouldn’t work. Perhaps the Buda Pests. We already have the Minnesota Twins, so rule out the Siamese Twins. Come on, they can’t be much worse than the Utah Jazz, the least jazziest state in America. Some cities and schools show a sense of humor. In Central Texas there are the Hutto Hippos. Macon, Georgia, once had a hockey team named the Whoopees. (For you youngsters, “Making Whoopee” was a popular song years ago.)
Finally, as the new Houston pro football team is playing in UH’s TDECU stadium, does anyone know what TDECU means? It could be that the TCU stadium was misspelled — they accidentally added a DE. No, actually, we have a college stadium named for the Texas Dow Employees Credit Union. That makes about as much sense as the Utah Jazz.
Ashby cheers at email@example.com