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Problems of eminently replaceable Fiesta no dancing matter

by | CBSSports.com Columnist

A lot of people are dancing on the grave of the Fiesta Bowl today, and dancing very, very well. Fluid, graceful moves, flurries of spasmodic jerks from all extremities, whatever suits their terpsichorean fancies.

Ahh, so joyous. Ahh, so naive. Like you think one bowl dying doesn't mean two or three more springing forth.

The Fiesta Bowl looks like it's about to take one to the neck. Executive director John Junker was fired for making campaign contributions from the bowl's general fund and essentially using the bowl, spending too much money on himself and others and in general screwing the works up good.

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And the BCS folks are seriously considering dropping the Fiesta from the rotation of megabowls, which would make it the Bluebonnet Bowl in a heartbeat.

You don't remember the Bluebonnet Bowl? Exactly.

Truth is, the Fiesta Bowl can and will be replaced so fast that you'll wonder why you even put your dancing shoes on to begin with. It is part of the system's ability to use strength through numbers that makes it, well, the system. It's how the NCAA works, too, and the NFL and money-making sports in general.

It's Robert Klein's law of supply and demand with a twist. You provide the relentless demand, and they control the extraordinary supply.

This all goes back to our essential theory of how to beat the BCS and the bowl system, though, and it isn't waiting for sloppy corruption to fell the monster one bowl at a time. The bowl system works too well for too many, and yes, all the way down to you, the ravenous consumer.

What, you protest? Fine. Here's a scenario, and answer truthfully:

It's Dec. 27. You are exhausted from the holiday revelries. You turn on the television. Do you grab the remote and say, "I must strike a blow for revolutionary justice and equality; I will watch Nova's special on the ovulation cycle of the hummingbird"?

No, you watch the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

If you watched the hummingbird thing and got everyone you know to do the same, and they got everyone they know to do the same, too, you couldn't break up the supply-demand cycle from the demand end.

But you don't because you can't. It's heroin, and you can't kick it without an intervention, and everyone who would be in your intervention circle is sitting next to you, Cheetos at the ready.

So maybe the supply end is how to go. Except that even if you thought every other bowl was as corrupt as the Fiesta Bowl, which they aren't, systems survive by adapting. The other bowls that used the Fiesta's business model are moving money around furiously to avoid detection from their own local papers.

And yes, credit to the Arizona Republic for bringing down the hammer of paperwork upon the Fiesta. Take a victory lap, kids.

Most bowls, though, aren't modified criminal enterprises. They're run by good people working in a system that has produced many charitable efforts, and they didn't get in to destroy your dreams of a playoff game. They're not trying to ruin your good time. They're trying to provide one to someone who loves watching Middle Tennessee and Bowling Green.

And if you think drooping ratings will save you anti-bowl types, think again. Bowl games are programming, and programming is fed by advertising, and most companies that advertise in bowl games also advertise the rest of the year. The beast must be fed, and the beast knows how to find the good eatin' spots.

Besides, ESPN only has so much poker in its inventory.

So here's to the Fiesta Bowl, whatever happens. It was big, now it may not be, but it will not die without leaving offspring. And the BCS is already watching bidders line up to be the new Fiesta Bowl. The system loses a limb and grows new ones.

So stop dancing, for God's sake. The people downstairs are glad you're having a good time, but you're starting to kick bits of drywall into their soup tureen. The revolution has not begun, because the revolution will not be televised.

The thing that replaces the revolution will be, though. It always is.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.


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