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Memo to Orange, Sugar Bowls: Note mistakes by Fiesta


It's time for our Friday Follies, five things that nobody asked me, but:

No. 1: A word of advice to our friends at the Orange and Sugar Bowls: If you haven't done so already, it's time to tighten up the ship. Now that the Fiesta Bowl has been dissected, fined, sent to time-out and pretty much skewered in the court of public opinion, the focus of the BCS bashers will now turn to the Orange and Sugar.

Fiesta Bowl board chairman Duane Woods talks to reporters during BCS meetings in late April. (AP)  
Fiesta Bowl board chairman Duane Woods talks to reporters during BCS meetings in late April. (AP)  
Matthew Sanderson, the co-founder of, a group whose stated mission is "Beat the BCS. Save College Football," told me Thursday that the Orange and Sugar should undergo the same independent scrutiny that led to a scathing 276-page report on the Fiesta Bowl. The anti-BCS folks smell blood in the water, so the bowls had better have their houses in order. They are coming after you next.

By the way: The BCS never was going to throw the Fiesta Bowl out of the club. There are way too many interlocking contracts.

More by the way: Why did I not mention the Rose Bowl? Seriously? Even the most serious BCS critics are not going to take on the Rose Bowl. Besides, they are too busy putting on that parade to get involved in this kind of stuff.

No. 2: Here is yet another reason why, if the BCS goes away, it will not be replaced by a playoff run by the NCAA: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently told Steve Weiberg of USA Today: "There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into a four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."

He's right, of course, especially if you take a little time to do the math. Delany's Big Ten put two teams into the BCS last season and earned $27.2 million from the BCS money pool. Not a bad payday. Now the courts could certainly rule that the BCS violates anti-trust law and break it up. Anything can happen in front of the right or wrong judge. But if that happens, the most likely scenario is that Delany and Pac-12 commish Larry Scott (who has shown he is willing to think outside the box) negotiate a blockbuster deal with ESPN to send their champs to the Rose Bowl for the next 10-15 years at more than $30 million per year. Ditto for the SEC (Sugar), the ACC (Orange) and the Big 12 (Cotton). If the BCS goes away, it is every man for himself and the TV boys have shown lately that they are willing to pay a premium for stability in college football (witness the Texas Network and the new Pac-12 TV contract).

No. 3: I'm glad that Mark Emmert wants to start coming down hard on rule breakers. I'll believe it when I see somebody of substance get taken out. I heard this analogy the other day: A county has an ordinance against Sunday liquor sales. The penalty of violating the ordinance is $50. A store owner makes $6,000 in Sunday sales and pays the $50 fine each week. That's called having the risk-reward equation way out of balance.

That is what college football is like right now. There is an element of risk to breaking the rules on a routine basis, but the rewards just totally overwhelm the risks involved. Until a coach believes he could lose everything, the NCAA doesn't stand a chance of getting a handle on this thing. You can give Julie Roe Lach, the head of enforcement, 1,000 agents and it won't matter. Until the NCAA takes down one of the big dogs and puts the fear of God in people, the beat will go on.

Just asking: In retrospect, do you think that Emmert and Roe regret letting Ohio State's Tat Five play in the Sugar Bowl?

No. 4: The ACC badly needs a big win in September. You have to give our friends in the ACC some credit. They are stepping out and playing some people early in the season. On Sept. 17, Clemson hosts defending national champ Auburn, Maryland hosts West Virginia, Miami hosts Ohio State, and Florida State hosts Oklahoma, which will be No. 1 in most preseason polls.

But the ACC needs to win one of these big games. A year ago these same four matchups yielded the following results:

Last season the ACC held its own against the Big East (4-3) but was 2-10 against the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-10. The wins were over Florida (by Florida State) and Vanderbilt (by Wake Forest).

No. 5: The hits are just going to keep on coming at Ohio State: There is an element of the Buckeye fan and alumni base that is embarrassed about what's going on in the football program. Other elements are equally convinced that this is all a conspiracy by an over-active media that just wants to bring their program down.

Reports earlier this week said that former player Thaddeus Gibson obtained a car from a local dealer that had a purchase price of $0. Columbus Dispatch had to correct that report when it found an older title to the car that showed a purchase price of $13,700. Some Buckeye fans saw it as an "Ah-ha" moment that proved this entire story about Jim Tressel and the Tat Five is a fraud.

Nope. Here is the problem. Because of everything that has come before, a lot of people had no problem believing the initial story about Gibson's car. And once that basic credibility is lost, one story begets another story, begets another story. The stories don't even have to be true to wear on the program. Now Ohio State's compliance people have to pull the titles and the purchase orders on the 40-plus cars that were sold to players and their family members and prove to the NCAA that there was no hanky-panky. And the story goes on and on and on.

The only question is whether Ohio State can stop the bleeding by the time the school goes before the infractions committee on Aug. 12.

By the way: When a straight shooter like Chris Spielman says Jim Tressel is in trouble, then he's in trouble.

Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.

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