Blog Entry

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Posted on: December 7, 2009 3:07 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2009 4:43 pm

I want to believe the Fiesta Bowl is breaking new ground with matching TCU and Boise against each other. It has more than a 35-year history of thinking out of the box.

Remember Miami-Penn State in 1987? That was a Fiesta-arranged meeting between No. 1 and No. 2. Right or wrong, Louisville filled a void in 1991 when the Martin Luther King holiday controversy raged.

So what are we supposed to make of TCU-Boise State? The bowl says the game is a ratings winner for TV. The stats say that last year’s Poinsettia Bowl between the same two teams was the 15th highest rated bowl.

The bowl says it’s a chance to match up a couple of unbeaten non-BCS teams. In that sense, Orrin Hatch, the schools, the Mountain West and Congress can’t complain. The alternative was playing a two-loss team from a major conference.

That’s what TCU and Boise probably wanted but neither school can complain either. They are playing the highest ranked team available -- except that they aren’t. The ideal matchup would be TCU vs. Cincinnati. But as executive director John Junker explained Cincinnati is like a long-distance girlfriend, not very geographically desirable.

OK, so this isn’t the best matchup. It isn’t particularly a TV ratings winner either, although TCU-Cincinnati would be worse.

Here’s a working theory based on nothing but conjecture …

 There was some low-level pressure from spin doctor Ari Fleischer, the BCS’ p.r. king, to keep the kids away from the adult table. That’s assuming that Fleischer knew enough about the system to suggest a Boise-TCU game. (Nothing personal, Ari. Ninety-nine percent of the country doesn’t get the BCS.)

The point being, that such a game would reduce the yelp from critics to almost zero.

 The four BCS bowl directors “colluded” to dump TCU and Boise in the desert. That keeps the embarrassment factor for all the BCS bowls to a minimum.

 With Cincinnati, Boise and TCU in separate bowls, the possibility exists of three unsettling upsets by non-traditional programs. Now the number is down to one, if Cincy beats Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

I don’t give the BCS bowl honchos that much credit. They’re in this for the individual gain of their bowls. If they’re in the business of helping other bowls, this instance would be the first time ever.

On the other hand, the Fiesta wasn’t exactly crowing (privately, that is) about having to take Utah in 2004 and Boise in 2006. Suddenly, a school with 40,000 living alumni (TCU) and one from the Idaho hinterlands (Boise) are appointment television?

Something doesn’t fit here.

Final verdict: We’ll have to take the Fiesta at its word. At the end of the day, it’s trying to get as many people in the Valley of the Sun for as long as possible to spend a lot of money.

As a fan, the alternatives – Iowa-Boise, Iowa-TCU – don’t do much for me. We already know that Boise and TCU are probably better than Iowa.

Now if one of those schools were matched up against Florida in the Sugar Bowl?

Category: NCAAF

Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2009 11:36 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

So they would both beat Iowa? I doubt it. This game will be a bust for TV ratings. Who really cares. The winner will get no credit for being a team to challenge for the National title. With Iowa healthy again, I think you would see a great game. Watch them in the Orange bowl and see the numbers for TV. They also travel very well and spend MONEY....

Since: Dec 6, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2009 11:29 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

My goodness. I'm so glad someone actually said this where it can draw attention. I'm so sick of people talking about how BSU and TCU didn't play any strong opponents. No, they didn't face as many reputable teams as Texas or Alabama. That is true. But the BCS busting teams have to play in-conference games as well, and since we can't invite ourselves to BCS conferences, that means that at least 7 or 8 of our 12 to 13 games will be against teams that some people consider to be difficult.

To say that BSU and TCU don't deserve to play against Iowa or Cinci or Florida makes zero sense. The BCS bowls have about as much significance as a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game. They're all about the money. Why not have a game between TCU and Florida? Or at least TCU/BSU vs. one of the teams against which they can prove themselves? By pitting these two teams against each other it not only perpetuates the argument that they haven't played anyone but frustrates those of us who want to see our teams show everyone that they can run with the big boys.

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2009 10:13 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Here's what I suspect happened for bowl selection. 

First, start with the "required" teams,  six AQ conference champs (ACC - Georgia Tech; Big East - Cincinnati; Big Ten - Ohio State; Big Twelve - Texas; Pac 10 - Oregon; SEC - Alabama) and a non AQ team that meets the specified requirements (MWC - TCU). These teams must be included in a bowl.

Next add in the "eligible teams." Depending on the vagaries of the season the rank of teams eligible can change, but without getting into the specifics details, the following teams were "eligible" for at-large births; SEC - Florida(#5); WAC - Boise State (#6); Big Ten - Iowa (#10); ACC - Virginia Tech (#11); SEC - LSU (#12); Big Ten - Penn State #13.

From this pool certain commitments begin to fill out the bowls. The "championship" game gets #1 Alabama and # 2 Texas. The Rose Bowl gets #7 Oregon and #8 Ohio State. The Orange Bowl gets #9 Georgia Tech. These are the so called "tie-ins." The Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl lost their tie-ins to the championship game. 

So, once these "required" births are set there are five slots to fill in three bowl games. The rules determine the order of selection and this is what that order was yesterday; Sugar (replacement), Fiesta (replacement), Orange, Fiesta, Sugar.

One rule worth remembering, only two teams from a conference can be in BCS bowls - this means that from the SEC it's either Florida or LSU and from the Big Ten either Iowa or Penn State.

Now here's the pool for the picks (asterisk means team must play in a BCS bowl); Cincinnati*, TCU*, Florida, Boise State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, LSU, Penn State.

The Sugar Bowl picks first and given the bowl's relationship with the SEC this seems a no brainer, they select Florida. This eliminates LSU from the pool.

The Fiesta then picks next and again this appears easy, undefeated, regional interest, potential for the non AQ conference "upset." They choose TCU.

Next comes the Orange Bowl and this is where everything gets "funny." Perhaps they are choosing based merely on a teams travel reputation, or perhaps they are looking to defend the rep of the "host" ACC team. The Orange Bowl skips over an undefeated Cincinnati, and undefeated Boise State team and selects two loss Iowa. This eliminates Penn State from the pool

It's now the Fiesta's turn again and their choices are now down to Cincinnati, Boise State or Virginia Tech. We can assume that VT with three losses was never really a part of the discussion. So the only issue for the Fiesta is which undefeated team to take. Given that choice, I understand the Boise State choice. Not that Cincinnati isn't a good team, but given the two pairings the TCU - BSU one is just a bit more "sexy." Cincinnati never really caught the sports world's imagination this year.

Then it's the Sugar's turn again and they have no choice but to take Cincinnati as an AQ team. 

And that is how we got the bowls we have. You can blame it on the Orange Bowl if you like. Unfortunately, given the order of picks, I don't see anyway we end up with a more interesting set of pairings. For example, say that the Orange had taken Cincinnati with their pick - that would have left the Fiesta to choose between Boise and Iowa (assuming they don't dip down to the 3 lose teams). Likewise, had the Orange chosen Boise State (v. GA Tech), the Fiesta almost certainly would have taken Cincinnati (v. TCU). Leaving the Sugar with Florida v. Iowa (or a three loss team). 

In short, unless the bowl mavens colluded to get the TCU matchup with Florida, it just wasn't in the cards. And while I think it cheats both TCU and BSU to play one another, the realistic alternatives just weren't all that exciting (most likely TCU - Cincinnati and GA Tech - BSU).

No conspiracy was needed to give us this slate of second rate matchups, just a really goofy way of filling bowl slots.


Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:51 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Samadhi, actually Iowa lost 2 out of 3 with the backup qb (Iowa is 10-2), but Stanzi will be back for the bowl game. 

Since: Sep 17, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:47 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

People will watch because this game will be a train wreck...and they won't be able to take they're eyes off of it.  Boise St doesn't even play this will be a competition to see who can draw up the craziest trick play that tears at and destroys the very fiber of football.

Football is about putting a bunch of athletes on the field and seeing who can run, pass, play defense, and play special teams the best.  It's not about how many magicians can we have to execute the hocus pocus filled bullshit we come up with.  After the Houdini-like way that Boise beat Okla. I lost all respect for that program...pathetic football.  I haven't had the opportunity to see TCU play...but I hope it's not like Boise.

You want national respect? Play somebody and beat them with a legitimate football gameplan.

By the way, grass is supposed to be green...even in Idaho.

Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:39 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

I was pretty irate when I first saw TCU and Boise St. lined up in the Fiesta Bowl.  It seems to me that these kids play all year long with the hope at having a shot at one of the national programs and they didn't even end up with that.  However, after fuming for an hour or so, I tried to think through it logically.  What were the alternatives?  TX/Bama are heading to NC game and OSU/Oregon are locked into Rose Bowl. That leaves UF playing Sugar Bowl vs. UC (Boise St. or TCU could have played UF as well and I do not think fans would care).  That leaves you with Boise St., TCU, Iowa and GT.  Does anyone think that either Boise St./TCU's claim to a title would be improved by a W over GT or Iowa?  Really?  At this point it comes down to geography and of course $$$. Boise St. or TCU will probably travel better to AZ and GT and Iowa to FL than vice-versa.  In the end, I think it makes sense.  The system is still broke and I do not think the outcome of all this nonsense delivers a true champion, but I at least think I understand the logic.   

Since: Jan 10, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:35 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Hahaha. Thanks for making my day! 'Iowa beat Penn St., Wisconsin, Michigan St., and ALMOST beat Ohio St.' That is funny! Don't forget your epic vicotry over N. Iowa. hahaha. Big Ten honks make me laugh. You have clearly never watched TCU or Boise for that matter play. Iowa might finish 4th in the Moutain West and 2nd in the WAC. You made the argument yourself, only in the Big Ten can a 4th string RB and freshman QB, not to mention all the injuries, still beat or almost beat all those teams and also end up in the BCS. TCU beats Iowa by 30 and would beat (not almost beat) overrated Ohio St. 

Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:33 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

ska4, I'm trying to understand your convoluted logic.  MSU is a joke because they almost beat Iowa, but Wisky is OK because they didn't almost beat Iowa? 

Since: May 2, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:33 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Anyone who thinks Georgia Tech will roll over Iowa is PAINFULLY ignorant, and speaking 100% off of a bias against the Big 10 and not with any logic whatsoever. I can absolutely promise you, and will bet anyone who thinks otherwise, that if GT wins it will be by a touchdown or less. Secondly, GT/Iowa will be a bigger TV draw than Boise/TCU. No question. People need to actually do research on what they speak of instead of just speaking out of dark places.

Since: Nov 5, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2009 9:32 pm

The Fiesta Bowl situation

Boise St. has beaten Oregon on the road...much more impressive than Michigan St. or Ohio St., at least this year.  In case you didn't know, Oregon took the PAC - 10 and are playing in the Rose bowl, and are an overwhelming favorite to win.

Meanwhile you defend Iowa who nearly lost at home to an FBS team, needing to block 2 field goals to hang on for the 1 pt. win.  Sure, it was only the first game of the season, but that would have been when the team was healthy.

We could argue all night, but the fact of the matter is, the BCS (broken crappy system) was scared to match up Boise St. and TCU with Iowa, probably because they knew there was a chance for Iowa to get completely embarassed.  To their credit, that was a smart move on their part, but sooner or later they're gonna have to face the music.  The only question is how long?

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