There are bowl games. Then there is the Pizza Bowl, which quickly became a Wiz favorite when ESPN told fans of South Florida and East Carolina — the participants from last year's inaugural event — to sit on the side facing the main game camera to add to the illusion that somebody actually cared to trudge down to Birmingham's Legion Field to watch this.
There were other issues, namely the fact that the title sponsor could not work out a deal with the vendor to sell pizza inside the stadium. And vendors ran out of beer long before the game was over. There must have been only one keg because hardly anybody attended this event. Put it this way: dogs wandering outside the stadium attracted more fleas than the Pizza Bowl did fans.
To top it off, some analyst from ESPN later talked about how important it was to "maintain the integrity of the bowl system." What ESPN didn't tell you is that the Pizza Bowl is one of five games it sponsors, the others being the Las Vegas, New Mexico, Hawaii and Armed Forces games. Integrity here is code for selling out to make money for ESPN.
So imagine the joy when an email arrived Saturday from our man Greg. "For the second consecutive year, I find myself in Birmingham on a December afternoon at Legion Field watching the PapaJohns.com Bowl."
Then the photos started rolling in. Version 2.0 of the Pizza Bowl, as you will see, remains full of problems. Check out the spelling of "Cincinnatti" on an official game T-shirt above.
We also received an email saying that the vendor ran out of pizza during the first quarter.
So, how well attended was the Pizza Bowl? Last year's crowd was an "announced 32,023." On Saturday, officials "announced 35,258" attended the game, won by Cincinnati, 31-21.
But fans of the Bearcats and Golden Eagles were once again sitting on the same side of the stadium, the one facing the main camera. That's clear from the top photo. Click it to enlarge the image.
The bottom shot shows the local turnout. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News wrote, "Did you know you could leave your house 30 miles away from Legion Field 90 minutes before kickoff and be in a parking lot at Legion Field 60 minutes before kickoff?"
Now what type of fan attended the Pizza Bowl? Certainly an adventurous type, some even patrons of the arts. "We went to Sammy's," Nick Brown, of Hamilton, Ohio, said of the strip club on Valley Avenue. "We also went to Hooters. Good food."
There were fans wearing Wiz-like hats and Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News chronicled this moment: "Best introduction to the South — Cincinnati fans watched incredulously before the game as a man preached on a megaphone outside the stadium. 'We're Catholics!' a Cincinnati fan shouted. One Cincinnati fan posed for a photo behind the preacher while holding a beer."
If you're headed to a bowl, send us images and comments about your experience. The address: dawizofodds (at) aol.com.