It’s early December and the annual bowl scramble is upon us. Who cannot help but marvel at the art of the deals being struck, such as where in the continental United States Tech ends up and which poor bowl committee wretches are stuck with the Hoos? Ain’t college football grand?


One cannot help but feel the ill wind blowing out of Hooville as, once again, bowl after bowl aligned with the ACC grasped a piece of paper from the hat held by Commish Big John Swofford and gasped with relief as they read ‘NC State,’ ‘Maryland,’ or ‘Clemson.’ The Peach passing on the Hoos was a little surprising, since the game is played indoors and they would be spared all of those befuddled facial expressions by algroh every time a little breeze blew up. One would have thought those centuries of NFL coaching experience would have taught the Great One how to deal with a little wind, but it appears not to have been the case. I’m sure during his performance review following the season with AD Craig ‘For the love of God won’t somebody please take us’ Littlepage it will be suggested that next time algroh carry his cell phone onto the field so he can call Bill Parcells and ask him how to deal with inclement weather. Apparently the Peach Bowl was afraid that a bit of hot air emanating from a Georgia Dome heating duct would brush past algroh, sending him into a panic and perhaps causing him to send his kicking team onto the field after his lousy rush defense had given up another touchdown, or maybe they just didn’t care to endure a week listening to his insufferable bragging about what a terrific coach he is in good weather. The Hoos howling about a series of bowl snubs not seen since the last time they were bowl eligible should confine most of their griping to a mirror, as once again their notorious reputation for non- support bites them. Buy some bowl tickets, folks, and you won’t have this problem. 


Here in the Big East, it is business as usual as bowl committees engage in all sorts of antics in an attempt to grab some teams and avoid others. This has led to the usual charges of an incompetent bungling of the bowl system by the Commissioner, not surprising since the same charges are leveled at him every year, often not without merit. This would appear to be one of those times. The entire BE bowl hierarchy was thrown into flux due to the unthinkable, the darlings of college football at Notre Dame managing to put on such a miserable performance against Southern Cal that they may actually have played themselves out of a BCS bowl. Given media infatuation with Notre Dame, it seems inconceivable that the Irish could have stunk up the Los Angeles Coliseum so badly that the BCS would even remotely consider passing on an eligible Notre Dame, but they pulled the trick. That, my friends, was bad football.


Due to Notre Dame demonstrating rather conclusively that they have no business even watching a BCS game on television, and they are unsuccessful in either whining loud enough in demanding more special treatment by either being included anyway [it’s worked before] or that the Southern Cal game be replayed and the Trojans not be allowed to use Carson Palmer or any of the other starters who ran so roughshod over them, the BE’s bowl-eligible teams sit and wait to see if the Irish are forced into their fallback position of hogging one of our league’s spots. This really makes making plane [perhaps] and hotel reservations a little tricky. It has also set in motion a series of events that quite possibly really hose Tech. 


One would have thought that the Big East bowl situation would have been made easier for Commissioner Tranghese this year, as Syracuse being obliging enough to post a losing record meant he didn’t have to wheedle some resisting bowl into accepting the Orangepersons and the disastrous effects their remote control ‘fan support’ would inflict on the local economy of a bowl city. The Big East, however, has no shortage of teams that do not possess the quality most desirable to the bowls, a traveling fan base, and once again bowls aligned with the conference are going to be forced to take a team they don’t want. Pittsburgh is leaping into the breach. We might not be hearing from some irritated bowl executive director “Not Syracuse again” but it’s hard not to notice that nobody seemed to want the Panthers. Fresh off of costing the BE a Tangerine tie-in with their meager fan support last year, Pitt, by muscling it’s way into the Insight, seems determined to match Syracuse lost bowl for lost bowl. “The Orangefans lost the BE the Liberty and Music City? We can counter with the Tangerine and Insight.” The amount of bowl opportunities lost to the BE is large and about to get larger. The Insight made it perfectly clear the identity of the team they desired, and are getting somebody else, and a somebody else that will provide considerably fewer warm bodies in town, to boot. This is not exactly how one goes about fostering warm relations with bowl committees. Once again, ramming an unwanted team down a bowl’s throat is going to cost the Big East in the long run. 


The main reason for all of this back-room wheeling and dealing, of course, is the little fact that another BE bowl tie-in, the Tire Bowl, had made it more than perfectly clear that they would not deal if it meant even the remote possibility of being stuck with teams named Syracuse, Pittsburgh or Boston College. It has become pretty obvious that Tranghese did indeed promise the Charlotte boys that either Tech or WVU, and ONLY Tech or WVU would be there. The result has been Tech forcing to remain in limbo as a fall-back position for Charlotte in the event Notre Dame snuck into the BCS. Kissing the Insight adios looks to have been deemed preferable in order to keep the boys in Charlotte happy and assure them of getting who they want, Tech or WVU. Let’s hope he is able to leverage this favor into a long-term contract, because the future Big East bowl pickings look to soon be getting slimmer. 


Mike Tranghese continues to negotiate bowl deals from a weak position. As irksome as it is for Notre Dame to be able to just sashay in when the bigger deals don’t come through and grab a BE bowl slot, or for Tech to have to pay the price for the poor traveling of other conference teams, let’s face it, the Gator would have never re-upped with us if they hadn’t been given a guarantee that they could snatch the Irish when they were available. Demanding that this arrangement cease to exist means no more Gator, which would have serious negative consequences for all of us. The Commissioner has a tough job acquiring bowl spots for deserving conference teams, and Notre Dame is one of the few bargaining chips he has. This year’s BE bowl assignments have been badly bungled, but the solution is not griping but for fans in Pittsburgh, Boston and Syracuse [when eligible] to get off their butts, buy bowl tickets and travel to the game.