The Gator Bowl had been the least of my favorite possibilities for Iowa’s bowl destination until now.
It was nothing against Jacksonville or the bowl itself. I just want to cover the best-possible story. To me, that would be Iowa playing a strong SEC team in the Outback Bowl or a strong Big 12 team in the Insight Bowl. Iowa playing, say, another 7-5 club in the Gator Bowl strikes me as dry toast. Not that the Hawkeyes can be choosy.
But when I saw what Gator Bowl President Rick Catlett said in this story at News4Jax.com, I developed an appreciation for his game. Because he spoke the plain and simple truth, something you don’t get too often from anybody about this bowl business.
“Our team selection is based on three criteria. Heads in beds, fannies in seats and big TV ratings,” Catlett said. …
Jacksonville is primarily a Gator town, but some worry Florida fans won’t travel, won’t spend the night and won’t help the economy. The Gator Bowl Association will weigh that in its selection process.
“Still trying to get that balance,” Catlett said. “We’re not about college football. We’re about economic impact.”
To see the video of Catlett telling WJXT-TV in Jacksonville those very things, click here.
No pretenses. This is purely about commerce. The game itself does not mean anything.
We all know it, we’ve always known it. But rare is the bowl honcho who is willing to be so upfront about it. Good for Catlett.
By the way, don’t assume that Florida would have some kind of incredible home-field advantage if it were the SEC team in the Gator Bowl as many believe it will be.
Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun says Gators fans are disgusted with their 7-5 team. Does that sound familiar, anyone in Hawkeye Country? (Is HawkeyeCountry.com a Web site, by the way? And if not, how is that possible?) Dooley writes:
It will be interesting to see how Florida does selling the 15,000 tickets it will have to buy from the Gator Bowl, assuming that’s where Florida will be going. I don’t see how the Gator could select Tennessee, Kentucky or Georgia over Florida, and those are the teams in the mix. Florida beat all three and has a better record if less enthusiasm in its fan base right now. It could be expensive for UF based on the disgust and anger the Gator Nation has right now for its football program. Penn State or Iowa would be the opponent. Some of you have really turned on Urban Meyer, and I’m sure some of that has to do with the way he’s disconnected from fans, even bypassing his usual post-game interview on the Gator Network. I think it would be smart for Meyer to say something in the coming weeks to get fans excited again.