Football in Paradise? Tampa? Really?

As always, just calling yourself something doesn't make it true

Mike Hlas
Published: December 26 2013 | 10:28 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:17 am in
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"Football in Paradise." That's what the Outback Bowl calls itself. That's what Iowa's football program has been calling it in tweets it's sent out the last few weeks.

Now, with the weather the way it's been in Iowa this week, Tampa will feel like paradise to those arriving there from here. I assure you I won't complain about being sent to Florida for a few days at this time of year. And Tampa has many nice things to offer, not the least of which is a beach on the Gulf of Mexico that is a fairly short drive from the heart of Tampa. But let's not get carried away.

First of all, there are what I would consider paradises on this planet. In addition to always being comfortably warm but never oppressively hot -- my definition of a near-must for a paradise -- they also are uncrowded and unspoiled.

They do not have 36 McDonald's in their city limits. They do not have eight Walmarts. They do not have eight Waffle Houses in their metropolitan areas. If you like those businesses, fine. But they don't show up a hop and a skip from secluded beachfronts with hammocks and trade winds.

Paradises have no need for a Twitter handle like @TampaBayTraffic.

The guess here is that there isn't dog racing in paradise. Tampa Bay has dog racing. When have you ever been at a dog-racing track and exclaimed "This is paradise!" When have you been in a group of cultured people when one of them said "Please excuse me, I must be off to the dog track?"

In paradise, the football teams win as often as they lose, and probably more. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-11, and the University of South Florida finished this season 2-10.

Ah, but what about the 1-11 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, you say. Well, Hawaii's campus is in Honolulu, which has the second-worst congestion of any U.S. city according to this story. You want paradise, go further west in the Hawaiian Islands to Kauai, although Kauai has five McDonald's and a Walmart. However, it has no Waffle Houses, and the Kauai High Red Raiders football team went 10-1 this season.

Football in Paradise when it comes to a bowl game is Pasadena, the Rose Bowl. Sure, southern California is as crowded as it gets in the lower 48. But a parade and then a football game with the most-beautiful backdrop of any bowl, and a game that features two conference-champions ... good stuff.

That said, keep that warm weather coming, Tampa. Mr. Mike's coming in Friday night with a sinus infection that needs clearing. Heck, I may even have a breakfast at a Waffle House.

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