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Tag:Fiesta Bowl
Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Fiesta Bowl CEO placed on leave

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Fiesta Bowl has been under fire for a while now thanks to its alleged ties to lobbyists -- which its since severed -- and political contributions that were made under CEO John Junker. Of course, that hasn't stopped the game from proceeding down its usual path, and raking in millions of dollars ever year.

It seems change is in the air, however, as it was announced on Monday that Junker has been placed on leave while a current investigation of the game's spending habits under him continues.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl board on Monday placed longtime Chief Executive John Junker on paid administrative leave while an independent investigation examines allegations he was involved in improper political campaign contributions and questionable expense reimbursements.
Monday's announcement is the first time that Junker, who makes nearly $600,000 a year, has been accused by the bowl of financial irregularities. The bowl gave no details regarding the accusations, and a spokesman said the bowl would have no further comment.
Junker could not be reached immediately for a response. It was unclear whether he would be asked to permanently resign or could be reinstated in full in the future.
Essentially, what Junker is accused of doing was having employees do is make political contributions to certain candidates, and then reimbursing them for the donations. In his place will be the bowl's former chairman, Alan Young. The investigation is being led by a special committee of the game's Board of Directors. Bowl officials, including Young, had been standing behind Junker as this investigation developed over the last few months, and today's news is the first indication that a change may be coming to the way the Fiesta Bowl does its business.


Posted on: February 11, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Phil Steele: Oklahoma will open at No. 1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Each year, preseason magazine guru Phil Steele releases what he expects to be the preseason AP top 10 come August. And so even though it's mid-February (or rather, because it's mid-February, and what else is a college football diehard going to talk about?), it's already time for the 2011 version, now available here .

The headline? Steele expects Oklahoma to open next season at No. 1 after the Sooners thumped UConn in the Fiesta Bowl and saw Ryan Broyles elect to return for his senior season. He writes (in his usual unique fashion):
This year OU will be ranked #1 in the pre-season by nearly everyone as they return 15 starters on off/def including QB [Landry] Jones, WR Broyles and LB [Travis] Lewis. Their schedule sets up nicely with a bye before their road trip to Florida State (a team they dominated [last year] 47-17). In Big 12 play naturally there is the Red River Rivalry game vs Texas who is coming off a 5-7 season and the only other huge hurdle could be the season finale at Oklahoma State but the Sooners have won the Bedlam rivalry 8 straight times and have an overall mark of 82-16-7 vs their in-state rivals. With their key returning starters back and a favorable schedule, the Sooners should get the nod as the Preseason AP #1 team!
Following the Sooners are No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Boise State, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Oklahoma State, and No. 10 South Carolina.

If Steele is accurate (and he predicted nine of 10 each of the past two seasons), that will be as about an outsider-dominated preseason top 10 as you could imagine, a fitting follow to a season that saw the lowest-ranked preseason team ever (Auburn) make the BCS title game. Sure, there's the Sooners, Tide, and LSU, but it's only been recently that teams like the Ducks and Broncos have become top-10 institutions, it's been years since Florida State or Texas A&M enjoyed that much hype, and it's more-or-less uncharted territory for the Cowboys, Cardinal, and Gamecocks.

Unfortunately, for the Cowboys, Cardinal, and Gamecocks, those kinds of expectations don't always pan out; just ask the Cowboys from two years ago, when the most heavily-hyped team in school history went a ho-hum 9-4, lost 27-0 to the Sooners, and fell to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. For their sakes, the fans at those three schools (not to mention A&M, which, seriously, hasn't seen these kind of expectations in a while ) had maybe better hope Steele's got this one wrong.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Fiesta Bowl severs ties with lobbyists

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last few years the Fiesta Bowl has come under fire for its use of lobbying firms to help the bowl game politically. The Fiesta Bowl had used both Husk Partners and Highground, spending $1.6 million, to help get the Fiesta Bowl moved from Sun Devil Stadium to University of Phoenix Stadium. The game has also used these firms to influence other political matters in the area as well. It's because of the game's connection to these groups that the Fiesta Bowl is now under an Arizona state investigation due to allegations that bowl executives made illegal campaign donations.

Well, suddenly the Fiesta Bowl feels it no longer needs these firms in its employ, as it has severed ties with both of them.
The move to stop using lobbyists comes as the bowl's board under Chairman Duane Woods has worked to extract the organization from politics amid local and national scrutiny of its activities. The bowl, which recently hosted a successful national collegiate-football championship game, has been under investigation by the state attorney general, who sought to determine whether bowl employees made illegal political contributions.
A spokeswoman for new Attorney General Tom Horne, who took office this month, would neither confirm nor deny that the probe is ongoing.
The Internal Revenue Service also has been asked to investigate whether the Fiesta Bowl and two other premier bowls violated their tax-exempt status and engaged in undisclosed lobbying.
It should be noted that Husk Partners President Gary Husk said that it was his firm that cut off ties to the Fiesta Bowl, not the other way around. In his words this was simply a "business decision."

Whatever the case is, records show that since Duane Woods has taken over the Fiesta Bowl, he's implemented some changes. First he told his employees that they would no longer be reimbursed for their political donations, and suddenly there were no longer any political contributions in 2010. Fiesta Bowl employees had donated over $38,000 in the previous nine years when they were being reimbursed. Woods also told local lawmakers that he would stop giving them free tickets to the Fiesta Bowl, which the game had been in the practice of doing since 1998.

Whether these changes are being made just to rehab the bowl's image, or in lieu of larger legal penalties that may be down the road, only the Fiesta Bowl knows for sure. Still, it's rather obvious that it knew it was doing something wrong, and its desperately trying to clean things up.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:51 pm
 

MWC may move Frogs vs. Broncos to Boise

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One of the unfortunate end results of TCU's jump to the Big East just as Boise State arrives in the Mountain West is that what ought to be the biggest, best rivalry in all of college football mid-majordom will last for just one season: this fall's, when the Broncos are scheduled to travel to Fort Worth for a rematch of the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

But those travel plans could change, according to this report from the Idaho Statesman's Chadd Cripe , in which MWC commissioner Craig Thompson acknowledges the league is considering changing the venue for the one-and-only conference meeting between the Frogs and Broncos to Boise. The decision will be made by a vote of MWC presidents--a vote from which TCU, by virtue of their Big East defection, will be forced to abstain.

But why bother with such major alterations to the league's slate -- one of Boise's current home dates would have to become a road game to accommodate the change -- at such a relatively late date? You guessed it: your favorite scapegoat and mine, the BCS:
Moving the game to Boise would make sense for the future of the Mountain West. As the league chases an automatic bid for the Bowl Championship Series, it gets to count results from Boise State and TCU for the evaluation period that ends in 2011 (2008-11). But for the next period, which runs from 2010 to 2013, the Mountain West gets Boise State’s results and TCU’s results carry over to the Big East. The Mountain West and Big East could be competing with each other for BCS positioning in that cycle.
No, offering TCU this kind of a kick in the pants as they head out the MWC door wouldn't be particularly sporting. But the Frogs' choice to bolt the conference just as it geared up for its big push for a BCS automatic bid wasn't too gentlemanly, either. When (speaking in the long term) the MWC's very survival could be riding on joining the BCS boys' club, they can't afford to gain every possible advantage they can.

It's not nice. But it's the right decision. In the brave new world of conference expansion, realpolitik is the only guideline that matters. Now, if the Broncos will just do their new conference home the favor of winning ...

HT: GTP .

Posted on: January 18, 2011 4:56 pm
 

What I learned from the Big East (Bowl Edition)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Don't let the conference's 4-2 record fool you - While some might have boasted that the Big East's bowl record made up for a season of mediocrity, a closer look at the games on the slate do not impress quite as much. Pittsburgh and South Florida's wins were over teams that finished 6-7, and Syracuse's controversial win over Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl is far less dramatic when you realize the Wildcats only won three conference games all season. Having said that, the bowls try to make each matchup as even as possible. It would not be completely misguided to give the Big East teams credit for representing their conference well, just don't let it fool you into misjudging the caliber of performance from the league as a whole in 2010.

2. Pittsburgh impressed with focus despite distractions - Of all the teams that dealt with transition amidst the postseason, Pittsburgh entered their bowl game with the least stable situation. Interim coach Phil Bennett took over as the Panthers were forced to dismiss new coach Mike Haywood almost immediately after the former Miami (Ohio) coach was arrested for a domestic dispute off the field. Bennett did a good job of keeping the Panthers focused on Kentucky rather than the off-field speculation surrounding the vacant coaching position. Many of the Panthers players felt that Dave Wannstedt was forced out prematurely, and Pittsburgh dedicated 27-10 victory to their former coach. Instead it was Kentucky, dealing with off-field arrests themselves, who appeared distracted and uninterested in the awkwardly timed BBVA Compass Bowl on the Saturday before the BCS Championship Game.

3. Connecticut's storybook season had a sour ending - This was supposed to be a memorable season for Connecticut. After less than a decade of being in the FBS, and only having been in the conference since 2004, the Huskies found themselves sharing a piece of the Big East Championship and earning a BCS Bowl bowl bid to face Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Hardly anyone actually expected Connecticut to pull off the upset, but the fashion in which the Huskies lost and the events that followed may have tarnished a legendary season for the program. Oklahoma's defense did not shut down Connecticut completely, as they were able to rack up 335 total yards of total offense. But the Huskies inability to get an offensive touchdown, along with a pair of Zach Frazer interceptions and a non-existent defense made the Fiesta Bowl loss more frustrating than uplifting.

To make matters worse, head coach Randy Edsall took a different chartered plane back from Arizona than the rest of the team. The reason was so Edsall could finalize the details on his new gig as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, a job he accepted the next day after the Oklahoma loss. Edsall mentioned nothing of the move to the players after the game, and only addressed them through a conference call after the announcement. Now the Huskies will try to build on last season's success with veteran coach Paul Pasqualoni, hoping to make sure that last season was not a fluke.

4. Changing of the guard amongst the Big East coaching ranks - Of the four teams that picked up wins in the 2010 bowl season, three of them were led by first or second-year coaches. Big East football fans can be hopeful for the future if it continues to see success under the leadership of coaches like Syracuse's Doug Marrone, South Florida's Skip Holtz, and Louisville's Charlie Strong. All three coaches inherited teams going through disappointing and/or controversial seasons, and all three coaches guided their 2010 squads to postseason victories. The turnover has continued throughout the conference, with Todd Graham hopping on board at Pittsburgh, Pasqualoni at Connecticut, and Dana Holgorsen waiting in the wings at West Virginia. When TCU arrives in the July 2012, the transition into the next era of Big East football will be complete. The struggle will be to continuing to battle a damaged reputation that hasn't been the same since Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference in 2004.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Bowl executive salaries rising as teams struggle

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One the one hand, it makes sense that the salaries of top-ranking officials at multi-million dollar enterprises like modern bowl games would be rising into the stratosphere. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported yesterday :

From 2001-05, compensation packages for bowl game executives have increased about 70 percent, with many of them more than doubling, according to an examination of the bowls' Internal Revenue Service records by The San Diego Union-Tribune. The highest-paid bowl executive in the study is the Outback Bowl 's Jim McVay , who earns about $490,000, more than double the salary for the CEO of the oldest bowl, the Rose Bowl ($239,807).

Such salary growth is fueled by the bowl system's huge increase in assets, revenue and payouts to the conferences and schools that participate in them. The Union-Tribune examined IRS records for the 19 current bowl games that are nonprofit tax-exempt, whose organizations have been around since 2001 or 2002 and which claim to have paid employees.

The study showed the bowl organizations increased their net assets by 85 percent from 2001-05, thanks to increases from their usual revenue streams: ticket sales, television rights fees, fundraising, other sources and sometimes public funds. Average net assets for bowl organizations increased from $3.4 million to $6.3 million.

For all of that, it's worth remembering that thanks to onerous ticket guarantees mandated by the bowls , the payouts to the teams playing in them haven't nearly kept pace with the cost of playing in them for many smaller schools. When UConn makes the biggest bowl, with the greatest payout, in their brief Division I history and still has to deal with massive financial losses as a result of their accomplishment, something is wrong.

And that goes double when the Fiesta Bowl suits who offered UConn the invitation are getting these kinds of raises. In a vacuum, the raises are a-OK. But in this economy, when the very bowls they're overseeing are so often taking such huge chunks out of the budgets of the schools they're claiming to help (not to mention that some 23 are run as nonprofit organizations), they're simply not.

HT: The Wiz . More information available there.

Posted on: January 2, 2011 4:22 pm
 

It's been a bad 24 hours for UConn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

You have to wonder if UConn may be regretting the fact that it was chosen to play in the Fiesta Bowl a bit right now.  Forget about the fact that Oklahoma did what everybody expected Oklahoma to do to the Huskies on Saturday night, it's what's happened in the hours since then that have damaged UConn the most.

Now, even with the loss, getting the kind of exposure for the football program that being in the Fiesta Bowl brings is a good thing.  Of course, national exposure for a program is a two-way street.  Yes, people know who you are now, even if all they know about you is that you aren't as good as Oklahoma.  The problem is that exposure not only works for the program, but the people in it.

Jordan Todman has been one of the best running backs in college football all season, but because of where he rushed for all those yards and touchdowns, not everybody knew about it.  Now Todman had a chance to perform in the national spotlight, with the eyes of NFL scouts upon him.  He didn't have the greatest game, but it's no coincidence that he's now going to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

He knew that the spotlight on him probably won't get any brighter in 2011.

Then there's Randy Edsall.  The job Edsall has done at UConn can't be over looked.  He took a program from the FCS and helped make it a contender in a BCS conference, and only needed seven years to win the Big East and get to a BCS bowl.  It's because of this that Edsall's name has seemed to pop up in every coaching vacancy around the country the last few years, but it seems that one school finally couldn't resist passing up the opportunity to actually hire him.  

Sunday brought the news that Edsall was going to be named the new head coach at Maryland.  Now, less than 24 hours after the culmination of all the work Edsall put in at UConn, after the team finally reached a BCS bowl game, it's right back to where it started seven years ago.

Happy new year, UConn.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Maryland's next coach is Randy Edsall

Posted by Adam Jacobi

[UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Maryland has officially announced the hiring of Randy Edsall tonight.]

After the unceremonious dismissal of Ralph Friedgen from the head coaching spot at Maryland , most people expected Mike Leach to be named the new head coach shortly thereafter. Leach was the only person named by Maryland AD Kevin Anderson at the press conference announcing Friedgen's departure, and he was the first person formally interviewed by Maryland earlier this week.

So, naturally, just hours after Connecticut 's 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Huskies head coach Randy Edsall was reportedly tabbed to run the Terrapins.

Wait, what?

The Washington Post reported today that according to several sources, Edsall was at Maryland interviewing for the head coaching spot with the search committee. CSN's Chick Hernandez confirmed the report and said that "barring major setback," Edsall would be hired. Minutes later, Joe Schad reported on Twitter that Maryland had in fact tabbed Edsall, and here we are. The hire has not been confirmed by Maryland, and according to the Baltimore Sun, one source at the school insists Leach is still a candidate, but an announcement is expected within 24 hours.

If Terps fans are disappointed by the prospect of Edsall coming aboard, it'd be hard to blame them; bringing Leach and the Air Raid offense to Maryland would have been a breath of fresh air for the program after it took the hit of losing coach-in-waiting James Franklin in December. But a breath of fresh air isn't the same thing as a quality, long-term hire, and that's apparently the direction Maryland wants to go with this hire. Edsall built Connecticut from a I-AA power to a FBS BCS competitor (albeit arguably the worst ever) in just a few years, and Maryland could use that type of institutional quantum leap forward -- or, as Anderson put it, "from 'good' to 'great'." Whether Edsall can deliver on that scale, of course, is something that necessarily remains to be seen.

And if Edsall is indeed confirmed as Maryland's next top man, we can't help but wonder... Mike Leach to UConn?



 
 
 
 
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