Schedules and Other Stuff
by Jim Alderson, 7/25/01
Faster than you can say "Directional Michigan," the TSL Future Football Schedules page has undergone a number of changes. LSU and N.C. State have been added, and the continuous sniping about Virginia Tech's OOC schedule can now end. It is about time.
If Tech is going to be a top program it is high time they scheduled like one. The impetus behind schedule-toughening moves by all top programs is a change in the BCS calculus that places greater emphasis on SOS and less on RUTS. Whacking MAC teams will no longer cut it for programs interested in competing for the MNC, a group that numbers most.
A casualty of Tech’s schedule changes has been the cancellation of Tech’s 2004-5 games with East Carolina, a move that has ECU partisans howling. Well, sorry. The BCS wants teams from BCS conferences playing each other, and the game has been rigged to reward those that do. Home and home series with schools from CUSA, the MAC, WAC or Mountain Something will no longer cut it, and they will be reduced. This is another sign of Division I-A football moving to a I-A+ and I-A-, with a conference’s inclusion in the BCS the dividing line. Watch for West Virginia and Miami, the other Big East schools with future dates planned with the Pirates, to also move to end them. It is a very unfortunate situation for ECU, a decent program with fairly good fan support, but those are the facts of BCS life.
One wonders if, during all of this rearranging of Tech’s schedule, something could be worked out to play Penn State over the next couple of years. Those outstanding fans of the Lions certainly deserve to be allowed to watch Kevin Jones and Fred Lee play.
Tennessee has firmed up their future schedules, adding traditional powers Duke and Rutgers. This from the people who continue to claim (pick one):
Cowards. The Vols have also provided Marshall the opportunity to issue some glowing press releases trumpeting a three-for-one deal. Fat chance of that "one" ever getting played.
Temple? Hoo? Hoo?
The schedule changes seem to be being made with little mention of what many of us thought would be available dates, those occupied by Temple. Tech, in its LSU announcement, rather pointedly declined to say which opponent was going off the 2002 schedule. The date for next year’s LSU game is slotted into the date formerly occupied by Kent State, but no mention was made as to whether that game or the Temple one was history.
It would appear that the Owls are going to be around for a while. While there is a gnawing suspicion that Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese has found some way to botch giving the Owls the boot, whispers from a notoriously-reliable source of information (a message board, this one Temple’s) indicate that some deal involving Temple and the BE is in the works. A Philadelphia paper reported recently that Temple Board Chairman Howard ‘Lawsuit’ Gittis was engaged in meetings with Rutgers and Big East President Francis Lawrence. I doubt they were discussing the logistics of bowl trips.
Rumor has it that Temple will be allowed to continue playing BE teams under some sort of weird double-secret-probation arrangement, with the Owls accruing none of the benefits of conference membership, i.e., keeping their hands in everybody else’s pockets. They would be ‘re-evaluated’ in 2004-5, or whenever UConn gets around to joining, with of course, Temple then being tossed out. If that is indeed the case, it would seem the BE has actually come up with a worse deal than Tech's full-membership deal of two years ago. Of course, we are going to continue to play BE basketball, for better or, most likely, worse.
If Temple is able to continue playing the rest of the conference under terms guaranteed to give new Rutgers coach Greg Schiano a fighting chance at escaping the league cellar, it more than likely will be done with a new coach. One has to assume that Bobby ‘Do You Know The Way To San Jose’ Wallace, if he is able to fashion any kind of decent record this year, will make every attempt at leveraging it into a job somewhere, anywhere, else. Wallace, used Temple's improbable 1998 upset of Tech, one of only two Temple wins that year, to get his foot in the door to interview for the Auburn job, and has ever since vied with former Seton Hall basketball coach Tommy Amaker for the BE’s ‘Get Me Out of Here Fast’ coaching award (Amaker won).
Wallace won’t stick around for the final acts of Temple football. I would imagine finding a quality replacement would be a bit tricky. Bud Foster and Rickey Bustle probably don’t want to be head coaches that badly. Temple could always bring back the man most responsible for their predicament of swinging from the football gallows pole, Ron Dickerson, to finish the job.
As the final scenes of Temple’s Big East drama are played out, it is hard not to feel for Owls basketball coach John Chaney. He is approaching the end of a fine career, having constructed a solid program despite laboring with the millstone of having to compete in that lousy A-10 (and where, with Bruiser Flint having totally demolished the UMass program and Skip Prosser bolting Xavier for Wake Forest, Temple is now the only reason to pay any attention to the A-10. Enjoy those trips to St. Bonny, Richmond). It is unfortunate that Chaney never got to compete on the larger Big East stage, where I feel he would have done very well, certainly much better than Villanova over the last decade. The wrong Temple program was in the Big East, and the one that stands in stark refutation to Doc Ryan’s scheme of conference by television market should never have been allowed in.
Big East Bowls
Bowl movement is afoot. The one at various times known as the Blockbuster/Carquest/Micron PC has finally decided that two bowls were one too many for Miami and has blown town, ostensibly landing in Orlando, hoping that the middle of Florida will prove a bit more convenient for fans disinclined to travel further south for what were usually crappy match-ups. They are also searching for a sponsor again, and no doubt fervently desiring to be called the Disney Bowl, which would certainly guarantee prime placement during ESPN’s Bowl Week.
The other naming option is the Oahu Bowl, best known for empty seats and the game where George Welsh endured his last bowl rout. The Oahu Bowl seems to be heading for Charlotte after a brief layover in the Pacific Northwest. With the Charlotte Oahu Bowl not having a pleasing ring to it, I assume they are attempting to put the bite on one of Charlotte’s banks, perhaps hoping for a Bowl of America. It would appear there is opportunity for the bowl-shy Big East here, but looks can be deceiving. While it can soon be expected that the SEC will petition the NCAA to allow their teams with losing records into bowls, they cannot possibly play in all of them, but it would seem they are trying.
The folks behind the Charlotte game have made it clear they want an ACC-SEC game, certainly understandable given the geography. The new Orlando bowl has announced that it hopes to grab a team from the Big XII to tangle with its ACC representative. Like the SEC, the Big XII seems to be stockpiling bowl slots and soon will have XIII for its XII teams. All of this shuffling is occurring with little input from the Big East, where just about every bowl slot, save the BCS and the Gator --which made it perfectly clear that the only reason it is still holding a spot is 1) Notre Dame, 2) Virginia Tech, and 3) the exclusivity deal the SEC and Big 11 has with the Citrus, which frowns on other games involving those conferences being played at the same time.
The Big East's Insight.com Bowl spot will be history at the very instant the contract expires at the conclusion of this year’s game, and the former Aloha, now known as the San Francisco Bowl, has initiated what apparently will be a world-wide search to find any other conference to take the Big East spot. This is a tough situation for Tranghese. The Big East is far and away the worst conference when it comes to providing numbers desired by bowl organizers, those accumulating in the cash registers of host cities. The reluctance of fans from just about every BE school but one to make bowl trips is liable to cause very real problems. Tranghese is negotiating with the Motor City Bowl to snatch CUSA’s spot in that game. Oh, boy, Christmas in Detroit.
One can imagine that those Syracuse fans who steadfastly refused, to a man, to travel to Miami for the Orange Bowl would be champing at the bit to book travel reservations for tropical Detroit, and the enthusiasm WVU fans would display at the opportunity to head to the Motor City for a shot at MAC champion Marshall. Big East bowl spots are a problem, and until fans quit griping and buy bowl tickets, there is little Tranghese can do about it.
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
A news item I noticed recently was a decision by R. J. Reynolds, Inc. The tobacco company, limited under the terms of the Tobacco Settlement Act to only one sports sponsorship, has logically chosen to continue its affiliation with NASCAR.
Among other things, this means the company will be forced to relinquish its role as a prime benefactor of Wake Forest athletics, to the tune of a couple of extra large per year, and produced the rather unusual situation of Wake’s Groves Stadium being perhaps the last remaining college venue where the concessions sold cigarettes, and the eye-catching banners touting Winston and Salem strung around the Joel Center. Wake’s budget, the smallest in the ACC by no small change, is about to get smaller. The situation at the ACC’s weak sister is getting tougher.
A Lane By Any Other Name
Thunderdome, Terrordome, Lackofdome, Ugly Expansion dome, The Rock, Rockpile, Wild Turkey House, Asphalt Jungle, Stone House, Stonehenge, what have you, many people seem to want to come up with some catchy nick for our football stadium. My personal favorite? Lane Stadium.
Jim Alderson,who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports. While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1. For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.