We all know the Fiesta Bowl skinny. It’s Iowa or Penn State for the Fiesta if Texas beats Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. Or so we assume.
So let’s get a few takes from around the map, and then you can look at pictures I shot Sunday morning from the University of Minnesota’s new TCF Bank Stadium.
The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein sees it clearly. Iowa or Penn State vs. Boise State. He writes:
Iowa clearly deserves the nod because of its 21-10 victory at State College on Sept. 26. But the lure of JoePa, Penn State’s national following and its 6-0 record at the Fiesta Bowl will make for a lively debate among bowl officials.
From the Telling People What They Want to Hear Dept., the Fiesta Bowl’s chairman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that TCU is in the “middle of our mix.” From the Star-Telegram’s story:
Alan Young, the Fiesta Bowl chairman, said the Frogs’ story this season has made them an attractive candidate and “an easy sell to our board.”
“It’s a good story,” Young said of the Frogs’ 12-0 season. “It’s a hard choice, but TCU is right in the middle of our mix. We have a bit of a history of going with non-BCS schools and then performing very well. And we can see TCU doing the same thing.”
But a comment from TCU Coach Gary Patterson is revealing about the situation the BCS bowls face with the Horned Frogs.
“I don’t think it will just be TCU fans who will come support us,” Patterson said. “Everybody likes Cinderella.”
Except they don’t. Bowls don’t like Cinderella unless Cindy sells a lot of tickets and spends a lot of cash in their hotels, restaurants, bars, rental-car agencies and knick-knack shops.
On the other hand, the Fiesta Bowl traditionally hasn’t had as much trouble selling tickets as the Orange Bowl, so I’ll revert back to what I wrote a week ago on the BCS situation: Nobody knows anything.
ESPN’s pair of Mark Schlabach and Bruce Feldman disagree. Schlabach has Iowa playing Boise State in the Fiesta. Feldman says the Broncos will battle Penn State, and Iowa will play Mississippi in the Capital One Bowl. (Yecch. Ole Miss is fresh off a loss to Mississippi State, one of the only SEC teams that isn’t bowl-eligible.) Click here for all their picks.
I looked on the Web sites of the Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune — the Phoenix area’s predominant newspapers – and found nothing on the Fiesta Bowl in Sunday’s surfing. Which should tell you something. The game itself doesn’t matter to a bowl site, just the commerce it brings.
Switching up, Penn State needs to keep those 10-win seasons coming. Because it’s going to gouge its season ticket-holders royally beginning in 2011, as Walt Moody’s piece in the Centre Daily Times of State College discusses.
Obviously, fans who have inhabited those seats — many for decades — aren’t happy with the prospects of having to crack open their wallets to stay in their spot or moving elsewhere in the stadium.
They feel betrayed by the university they have supported these many seasons and you can’t blame them.
They wonder why an athletic department that brings in $96 million a year needs more money.
They wonder why they have to pay more to support 27 other sports (men’s basketball is in the black thanks to the Big Ten’s television contract).
Several of those programs don’t attract as many fans in an entire season as those who line up at halftime at one concession stand at Beaver Stadium.
But, if they want to look at the biggest reason why Penn State can make this move, they only need to look in the mirror.
The athletic department is counting on the passion and loyalty from the Nittany Lions’ fans to make this pay off and not have the midfield sections look like the empty high-roller seats behind home plate at the new Yankee Stadium.
Sticking with Penn State, the New York Times has a story about new Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson with the headline “A Wrestling Great Calculates His Next Big Move: Dynasty”
You think that might make it to a certain locker room in Iowa City?
“It’s like if I was a football coach with a chance to go to Texas where all the great players are, where they have the best facilities and where the fans support you to this incredible level,” said Sanderson.
Oklahoma did Iowa a solid Saturday by stifling Oklahoma State 27-0 and shoving the Cowboys out of the Fiesta Bowl picture. But before that game, Sooners fans wrote a number of letters to The Oklahoman newspaper, mostly suggesting OU Coach Bob Stoops should go. Here’s an example:
Johnny: “Sure, we have had success in the past decade, but we have consistently stubbed our toe at crunch time. Chokelahoma, as we were referred to in last year’s championship game, in the minds of a lot of people, pretty well describes our big game play in the past few years. Lost of people, including myself, question the players’ mental toughness and the crunch-time coaching of not only this year’s team but also for the past several years. Switzer’s teams won who knows how many big games in the fourth quarter, many on their last possession. Other than the Holiday Bowl of a few years ago, I can’t remember a single big game in recent years OU has won late. I realize we have underachieved this year due largely to attrition (graduations and injuries). In past years our teams with superior athletes and few injuries were able to succeed, I think, because they were consistently superior to their opponents in ability — except against peer teams (Texas, Florida, USC, LSU, etc.). When they beat Texas A&M, Nebraska, Alabama and Miami in recent years, those teams were substandard at the time. I think Stoops has a losing record against Texas. I don’t believe we can lay the blame for five losses this year entirely on inexperienced players. We could have won every game except Tech with only one additional successful play in each game. I like Stoops and think he is what we need at OU. However, I believe he may not be objective in his selection of assistants. I always thought his buddy Chuck Long was a poor offensive coordinator and a terrible play caller. His later experience at San Diego State seemed to bear that out. I am getting the same feeling about Kevin (Wilson). As with Chuck’s offense, there is very little misdirection used, and sometimes you just shake your head at play selection at critical times (for example, the 54-yard field goal try against BYU by a kicker who had never attempted a field goal in college; mathematical odds says we had at least a slim chance to pick up a first down via pass but had zero chance of making that field goal). I wonder if Stoops’ loyalty to old friends may be clouding his judgment in selecting assistants.
And now, TCF Bank Stadium photos. Why? Because I drove past the stadium Sunday after having a nice, inexpensive breakfast in a Dinkytown diner.