Waiting on the Domers, and Other Bowl Thoughts
by Jim Alderson, 12/5/02

Itís 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? Ainít 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 ĎNC State,í ĎMaryland,í or ĎClemson.í 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.

Iím sure during his performance review following the season with AD Craig ĎFor the love of God wonít somebody please take usí 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 didnít 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 wonít 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 [itís 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 BEís bowl-eligible teams sit and wait to see if the Irish are forced into their fallback position of hogging one of our leagueís 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 could 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 didnít have to wheedle some resisting bowl into accepting the Orangepersons and the disastrous effects their remote control Ďfan supportí 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 donít want.

Pittsburgh is leaping into the breach. We might not be hearing from some irritated bowl executive director "Not Syracuse again" but itís 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 itís way into the Insight, seems determined to match Syracuse lost bowl for lost bowl. "The Orangefans cost the Big East 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 [hint: think orange and maroon], 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 bowlís 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. Letís 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 donít 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, letís face it, the Gator would have never re-upped with the Big East if they hadnít 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 yearís BE bowl assignments have been badly bungled, but the solution is not to gripe, but for fans in Pittsburgh, Boston and Syracuse [when eligible] to get off their butts, buy bowl tickets and travel to the game.

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.


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