Blog Entry

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 7:41 pm

The Sugar Bowl was actively seeking a trade of BCS teams with the Fiesta Bowl had Oklahoma beaten Oklahoma State, Sugar CEO Paul Hoolahan told on Monday.

Hoolahan said he was in contact with Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas about working the deal that would have brought Oklahoma to New Orleans in exchange for Oklahoma State. That would have relieved Oklahoma from so-called “Fiesta Fatigue” by taking the Sooners had they lost Saturday to Oklahoma State. Per BCS procedure, the Sugar would actually had to take Oklahoma State with the first overall pick then wait until the selection procedure was over before working the trade for the Sooners.

Oklahoma has been in the Fiesta Bowl three of the last five years. The Sooners have played in New Orleans once since 1972. That was the 2003 BCS title game against LSU. The trade, of course, was predicated on LSU and Alabama remaining 1-2 in the BCS. It is allowable per the BCS contract. 

The Sugar ended up with Michigan and Virginia Tech.

“I was working with Neinas throughout the week prior to selections on a possible Oklahoma trade …” Hoolahan said. “We had that greased and ready to go.”

“A lot of time was spent looking at that,” he added. “A lot of time was spent looking at similar situations regarding Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech’s name didn’t come in out of the blue.”

A second source from the Fiesta Bowl confirmed the trade talks. Neinas did not immediately return a call for comment. Because it lost both LSU and Alabama as SEC anchors, the Sugar had the first and third picks in the BCS process. Michigan was the first pick.

While the trade talk doesn’t directly address the reason why Kansas State was left out of the Sugar Bowl, it does begin to explain the Sugar Bowl’s thinking. It needed a so-called “anchor” team to pair with a second participant. Michigan became a worthy choice and the potential trade was off when Oklahoma State beat the Sooners.

The Wolverines return to New Orleans for the first time since 1984. If there are less than 10 automatic BCS qualifiers, teams ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS standings that have won at least nine games are eligible for at-large selection. That explains the leeway BCS bowls have in creating their best matchup. 

An Oklahoma win in Bedlam likely would have put a second Big 12 team (Oklahoma State) in the BCS.  

While ticket sales didn’t figure to be issue in either of the possible games involving Michigan -- Michigan-Virginia Tech or Michigan-Kansas State – there are always television considerations. It could have been that Virginia Tech was a slightly better TV draw.

Virginia Tech itself is suffering from its own “Orange Bowl Fatigue” having been to South Florida as the ACC champion three out of the last four years. Still, the college football world wanted to know Monday why Virginia Tech made it over the more accomplished and higher-ranked Wildcats.

The two-loss Hokies come to New Orleans fresh off a four-touchdown beatdown from Clemson in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech beat one team (Georgia Tech) ranked at the time in the top 20. Its own coach, Frank Beamer, barely voted the Hokies within BCS at-large eligibility on his coaches’ poll ballot at No. 13. At-large teams in the top 14 are considered.

Meanwhile, Kansas State is ranked higher (No. 8, BCS) guided by a national coach of the year candidate in Bill Snyder.

Without getting into specifics, Hoolahan said it was  a matter of familiarity with Tech. “A fond relationship,” he called it. The Sugar contributed $250,000 to the school after the tragic shootings in 2007. This is the third time since 2000 and fourth time since 1995 the Hokies have been to New Orleans.

The Sugar Bowl doesn’t have a large volunteer base (125) which could also play into the decision. Compare that to the Fiesta Bowl which claims a volunteer base of close to 3,000. The Sugar is double-hosting in this BCS rotation, responsible for two BCS games within seven days.

With SEC powerhouses LSU and Alabama in the championship game, it could be one of the biggest and busiest weeks ever for the Sugar Bowl infrastructure. Anything to make the job easier – i.e. selecting a known commodity in Virginia Tech – could help.

Hoolahan called it inviting a “long-time friend and partner.”

The Sugar could also feel it is owed the freedom to make such a pick. Since 2008, it has hosted non-BCS schools Hawaii and Utah as well as the Big East’s Cincinnati. Essentially, the Sugar Bowl may feel it shouldn’t be criticized when it has taken teams with ticket and TV draw issues in recent years.

Those are lingering consequences of the BCS that will start to be dealt with when the commissioners meet next Jan. 10 in New Orleans.


Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:56 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade


Maybe it has something to do with the fact that K-State lost at home to Oklahoma by 5+ touchdowns.  

Since: Dec 5, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:32 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Well I know it is not particularly well publisized but K-State travels extremely well, having set bowl attendance records at the Cotton, Fiesta and Holiday bowls.  As for the Big 10 homer, please tell me who Michigan has victories over?  I see victories over one ranked team and a loss to mighty Iowa (who lost to Iowa State). I'm good with the match up in the Cotton bowl, but I would have loved a chance to play in NOLA. I am sorry anyone questioning why K-State was considered really doesn't know as much about college football as they would like to believe.   

Since: Nov 26, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:23 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Sure the Sugar Bowl is free to be stupid.
They are so thin-skinned that they don't want criticism? Fine, we just won't watch. Who cares about Michigan-Virginia Tech?
The Sugar Bowl may think that it makes sense to invite its "friends". I sure hope the Sugar Bowl isn't foolish enough to think that their non-friends, the fans who pay their bills, are going to do them the favor of supporting their advertising "partners".

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:20 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

I doubt if too many people care what games most of you guys watch, especially WVU who finished 23rd. in the BCS Rankings going to the Orange Bowl. What a joke !   Why don't some of you wanna bees get a life.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:15 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Really-who were these great teams that Kansas State and Boise State beat? At least Michigan beat some quality teams. K-State lost its only two tough games of the year and squeeked by Baylor. Wow-great resume. Don't even start on Boise-- though they did beat a quality Georiga team. Bottom line Michigan is as deserving as any of the other "meidocre at large possibilities".

Since: Sep 9, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:04 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

I will watch about 30 bowl games this season, but I will NOT watch the Sugar Bowl.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:58 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Boise State and Kansas State are both FAR WORTHIER than M and VT.  VT got blown out last year by Stanford and they were the Champs.  Michigan is all about money.  Big alumni bases...what a great criteria for selection.  VT has a "fond relationship".  I wonder if that translate a pay off!  This guy Hoolahan should be investigated.  I'm not a fan of any of the teams involved but the Sugar Bowl selections are a JOKE.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:48 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

Really? What teams were "far" worthier? I'll give you that Boise State got screwed, but no one else was a clear choice, especially when the BCS bowls care more about how the fanbase travels than anything else.

Since: Feb 4, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:29 pm

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

"It needed a so-called “anchor” team to pair with a second participant. Michigan became a worthy choice and the potential trade was off when Oklahoma State beat the Sooners."

It needed an anchor team so badly that it was willing to take the third best team from the third best conference over a handful of other, far worthier teams.


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