Monday Reading Room - why the Fiesta Bowl bypassed Iowa for Boise State and TCU

Published: December 7 2009 | 12:01 am - Updated: 30 March 2014 | 3:08 pm in
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“This shows more than anything that the BCS is open to and willing to have all matchups,” said BCS executive director Bill Hancock.


The Boise State-TCU matchup at the Fiesta Bowl is what Hancock was talking about. Make no mistake about it, it galls the six power leagues to have two of their BCS bowl spots usurped by non-BCS conference teams. Especially when $17 million is the payout to each team in a BCS game, which is then divvied within their conferences.

The BCS is probably quietly happy to have the unbeaten Broncos and Horned Frogs squaring off, because the winner won't be given the same credibility as the winner of the Alabama-Texas BCS title game. It won't be like last year, when Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to get Utah Senator Orrin Hatch barking about the BCS' monopoly.

"Frankly, there's an arrogance about the BCS that just drives me nuts," Hatch said in July as he tried to get the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the BCS for what he views as violations of antitrust laws.

Hatch said that the BCS is exploiting a position of power, "and it's just not right."

Good thing that doesn't happen in businesses and other walks of life all over America, eh, Senator?

Anyhow, the Fiesta Bowl has had a reputation for making matchups other BCS bowls either wouldn't make or prefer not to make. In hindsight, Iowa-Boise State would have been too predictable or safe for the game, which has previously featured Utah and Boise State.

“Maybe it’s time for people to think outside the box a little bit,” Fiesta Bowl executive director John Junker said according to this Kansas City Star essay by Blair Kerkhoff. He added:

But Junker said his game got the thumbs-up from broadcast partner, Fox.

“They thought it would be interesting to viewers across America,” Junker said.

Maybe. It will be interesting to see the Nielsen ratings for that night, Jan. 4. My guess is the Fiesta Bowl does a much-better rating than the Iowa-Georgia Tech Orange Bowl the next night. And while I'll never be able to prove it, I'd bet Boise-TCU would do a better number than either Iowa-TCU or Iowa-B0ise.

TCU and Boise State are really good. That should be obvious when they meet, even though neither is getting the great and grand privilege of playing a team from a BCS conference in Arizona.

But don't take too much to heart from these bowl guys or their BCS mouthpiece. The Orange Bowl took Iowa because of the fans it will bring to south Florida, not the win the Hawkeyes earned over fellow BCS-bowl contender Penn State. From Kerkhoff's piece:

“In the end, the head-to-head victory in State College was impressionable,” (Orange Bowl executive director Eric) Poms said. “We were unanimous in our feeling that Iowa was the choice.”

Sure, sure. It was the Penn State win that decided it. Not the memories of between 40,000 and 50,000 Hawkeye fans descending on Fort Lauderdale-Miami seven years ago for that Orange Bowl.

Now, for some Georgia Tech stuff. The Yellow Jackets played in one of the best

college games of the year Saturday, their 39-34 ACC title-game win over Clemson in Tampa. The following is an excerpt from a story:

“I guess it all started in last year’s bowl game,” (Tech running back Jonathan) Dwyer said, referring to Georgia Tech’s 38-3 Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to LSU. “After getting embarrassed in the bowl game, everybody had the mentality that we were going to go for it the next year, and our No. 1 goal was to win the ACC and then our next goal was to win a bowl game.”

That result also fuels a fire that says a good defense can decipher Georgia Tech's spread option offense when given a month or so to prepare. But this excerpt from the piece is interesting:

A senior on Georgia Tech’s heralded defensive line last season, (Darryl) Richard was among the first players to buy into Johnson’s scheme and encouraged his teammates to believe success could come quickly for the program.

The Yellow Jackets finished 2008 with a 9-4 record.

On Sunday, Richard was reveling with a little “I-told-you-so” statement.

The current NFL player wrote on his Facebook page Sunday that he had a “plate of crow” for those who hated on and doubted Johnson when Richard said the following on Nov. 1, 2008: “I think his teams in the future will compete for championships because it’s the way he programs a team. … I believe his system builds all the way from the offseason; how he makes men out of boys. It’s a mentality, and I think it’s showing up in football games.”

Table scraps: Georgia Tech played in LandShark Stadium this year, where it lost 33-17 to Miami on Sept. 17.  "I don't think the stadium will have anything to do with our guys' mindset," Tech Coach Paul Johnson said. "We did play very poorly there against a good Miami team and got handled fairly easily in that game."

This is Tech's first major bowl since it was in the 1967 Orange Bowl. . . .  Georgia Tech has rushed for at least 205 yards in 12 of its 13 games. Iowa has allowed only one team to crack the 200-yard mark all season.

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