Lonely Planet Writer

76-second travel show: 'How to save college football'

Episode 11, featuring 32 bonus seconds.


A couple years ago when the New Orleans Saints played their first home game at the Superdome after its role in Hurricane Katrina, the crowd reaction was so energized and loud, that the announcers could only liken the NFL game to a 'college football game.' Outsiders looking into American sports sometimes don't realize that baseball actually trails basketball in popularity, and both trail football. While the pro football league (the NFL) gets the majority of media attention, NCAA college football gets the frenzy and the heart, plus the hokey traditions and dated uniforms. (See this video for football basics.)

One can't begin to understand the ever-elusive 'real America' without taking in some college football.

BCS rankings reward 'tradition' teams like Texas and punish others like TCU.

The catch is that, every year, all year, fans and writers bicker about the NCAA's frustrating lack of playoffs and the BCS system that 'ranks' the 119 division-one teams by a mix of human and computer polls. No one understands it.

What's more, this year has been the worst college football season in recent memory. The standard teams playing lackluster ball, no players really showing their worth for the nation's most coveted individual award (the Heisman), the best returning quarterback (Oklahoma's Sam Bradford) being injured in the beginning of the first game, and as many as five undefeated teams vying for the two-spot championship in Pasadena on January 8.

So we're solving the problem by going back to the days when a champ was appointed after the regular season. The 76-Second Travel Show (SSTS) and Lonely Planet award Texas Christian University -- home of the horned frogs (an animal that technically doesn't exist -- they're 'horned lizards' -- and that no longer live in the area) -- as 2009 national champions. Congrats to TCU.

To celebrate we report from the TCU home, Fort Worth -- a more interesting place to spend a day than its better-known neighbor Dallas. As some locals say here, 'Life's too short to live in Dallas.'

Fort Worth's Stockyards has twice daily 'cattle runs' - and plenty of Harleys.

Prediction for this Saturday's key end-of-season games:

  • Alabama 22, Florida 21
  • Nebraska 20, Texas 14
  • Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 26

BCS national championship game:

  • Alabama vs TCU