So now we get to the Sham Bowl, which should come as a steep compliment. "Sham" here refers not to any fraudulence, for we know there has never been any of that in college athletics, but to the name of a late and noble racehorse.
When Secretariat in 1973 became the first being to run a Kentucky Derby in less than two minutes, Sham might have become the second in the frantic hoofbeats just behind. Nobody knew for sure because those were savage, primitive days in which snooty human beings timed only the winners and nobody else.
So I do like to honor Sham by invoking his name for anything commendably second-best, so that even if Alabama-Notre Dame is no Secretariat in the pantheon of title games, Oregon-Kansas State here on Thursday night is a pretty damned good Sham. Besides, the name proves so much less unwieldy than other candidates -- including the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bowl, the John Adams Bowl, the Butler Basketball Bowl, the Buzz Aldrin Bowl, the Marv Levy Buffalo Bills Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (actual name) and especially the Day 332 Of 2012 Bowl.