The bowl system has sealed the deal, but odor still leaks through
You might rather know what goes into the sausages at “Barry’s Floor Scraps & Other Deli Delights” than know what goes into making college football’s postseason.
The system is so smarmy and sullied it sometimes defies explanation or description.
For example, when the Music (City) stopped Sunday night, Louisiana Tech at 9-3 was left out of a bowl but Georgia Tech at 6-7 got in without much of a fight.
Louisiana Tech was in the top 25 of the Associated Press media poll for five weeks and leads the nation in total offense. The Bulldogs average 51 points per game, defeated Virginia and Illinois from Bowl Championship Series conferences and scored 57 points against Texas A&M;, which defeated Alabama.
Georgia Tech’s resume simply doesn’t measure up. But the Yellow Jackets play in a major conference, the Atlantic Coast, with built-in bowl ties. So all Georgia Tech had to do was petition the NCAA for a waiver to get into the Sun Bowl with a losing record. Georgia Tech’s opponent will be USC, making this bowl a grand-total records matchup of 13-12.
Louisiana Tech finished third in the Western Athletic Conference, which has only one guaranteed bowl slot, and is a league that is going out of football business at the end of the year.
“Under no circumstances did I ever think there was a possibility at all that we would not play in a bowl game,” Louisiana Tech Coach Sonny Dykes said.
While schools with five losses saunter into games as historically prestigious as the Rose Bowl, Louisiana Tech was caught in the crossfire of bad luck and bowl politics.
The Independence Bowl, according to wire reports, wanted Louisiana Tech but also wanted an immediate answer. Louisiana Tech reportedly asked for more time to consider two other possibilities. However, both fell through when Northern Illinois received an unexpected BCS bowl bid, knocking Oklahoma down a peg and sending a reactional ripple across the bowl chain.
By the time Louisiana Tech was ready to accept, the Independence Bowl had taken 8-4 Ohio instead.
“Nobody turned a bowl down,” Bruce Van De Velde, Louisiana Tech’s athletic director, told the Associated Press. “We asked for more time. . . .”
The Independence Bowl, located in Shreveport, La., said it had to move fast to secure a good team that would bring fans to its game. The bowl ended up choosing Ohio to pair with Louisiana Monroe, which sounds like a battle of railroad museums.
“We had to make some decisions to get somebody in there,” bowl chairman Jack Andres explained.
Because Louisiana Tech was not protected in the system, the Bulldogs were held hostage by that system and by a bowl boss with an ultimatum. The school’s audacious desire to find a bowl not located 65 miles west on I-20 completely backfired.
So while 38 schools with fewer victories will receive bowl goody bags, Louisiana Tech will be back in Ruston, holding one.
Meanwhile, the BBVA Compass Bowl will treat audiences to a matchup of 6-6 teams in Pittsburgh and Mississippi. And you wonder why smaller schools can’t hold on to quality coaches. Van De Velde has confirmed that Dykes is interviewing for the vacancy at California.
Worse, you might have heard the vicious, unwarranted attacks leveled by some ESPN announcers, including one who goes by the nickname “Herbie,” over Northern Illinois’ apparently incredible inclusion in the major bowl lineup.
The ESPN honchos acted like a Little League team was getting promoted into the World Series when all Northern Illinois did was qualify fairly for the Orange Bowl under BCS rules.
Northern Illinois jumped six spots on the final weekend to finish in the BCS top 16, but in 2007 two-loss Louisiana State jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 on the final weekend to get a spot in the BCS title game.
The rules are the rules, and they apply to non-powerhouses too.
Northern Illinois finished 16th in both polls used in the BCS formula — USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive.
Some coaches didn’t think that highly of Northern Illinois. Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops, whose team got knocked out of a BCS game because Northern Illinois got in, voted the Huskies No. 24.
Could you imagine what some coaches might do if their names weren’t attached to their final ballots?
Georgia Coach Mark Richt did not include Boise State (10-2) in his top 25 even though the Broncos finished No. 15 in the final coaches’ poll. Maybe Richt didn’t remember that Boise State thoroughly defeated Georgia in last year’s opener in the Georgia Dome. Or maybe he was still dazed after Saturday’s tough loss to Alabama in which he did not call for his quarterback to spike the ball in the final 10 seconds.
Three voting coaches — surprise! All with Southern ties — voted Alabama No. 1 over Notre Dame.
And get this: Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin not only voted Notre Dame No. 4 behind three Southeastern Conference teams — Alabama, Georgia and Florida — he voted his own unranked team No. 16.
Vanderbilt did have that really impressive win over Presbyterian.
There has to be a better way to do this, but nobody’s thought of it yet. However, after this weekend, even that goofy selection committee idea sounds like an improvement.
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