Though I usually go months without reading Michael Hiestand’s USA Today column, Wednesday’s is a doozy. Along with tipping us off regarding Stephen A. Smith’s debut on “General Hospital” (“Smith plays a reporter covering a hostage taking in the Feb. 2 episode. He calls the role ‘a dream come true’ and it’s ‘a lesson to all the ladies out there ” there are men who love the soaps.'”), Hiestand has the scoop on what will hopefully be the first and last Baghdad Bowl, scheduled to air as part of CBS’ Super Bowl pregame programming.

CBS analyst Randy Cross (above) says he proposed the idea to CBS after visiting a U.S. military base in Afghanistan last year. The idea is for U.S. soldiers in Iraq ” male and female ” to don Colts and Bears jerseys for a touch football game that, he jokes, “will give you an early indication” of the Super Bowl winner.

Not surprisingly, says Suzanne Smith, who is Cross’ director on regular NFL coverage and will go to Iraq with him Monday, this bowl will be creative. Jeeps will be lined up to serve as bleachers, she says, “And we’re talking about making some kind of goalposts.” She is not sure about player gear ” “Maybe they’ll wear their helmets.”

Smith, working with the military, says she’ll be supplied with two cameras ” “which I guess is a big deal over there” ” and help in scouting locations: “In e-mails, like whenever you do a shoot, they talked about the advantages and disadvantages of two sites. But with this, they talked about which is safer.”

But at least the game balls, which will emulate Super Bowl balls, will be emblazoned with “Baghdad Bowl” lettering. After all, Cross says, “The idea is to bring some degree of normalcy to the troops.”