Tag:Fiesta Bowl
Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:52 pm
 

Boise's Rose Bowl hopes aren't dead yet

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There's a little known rule in the agreement between the Rose Bowl and BCS that could end up meaning a trip to Pasadena for Boise State this year should they miss out on a chance to play for a national title.  You see, when the Rose Bowl entered into a partnership with the BCS, it did so under the grounds that should one of their traditional choices -- the champions of the Pac-10 and Big 10 -- be chosen to play in the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl would get the first choice of BCS-eligible teams to replace them.

A choice that has never included a non-BCS conference school.

In fact, the six times that a non-BCS team has played in a BCS bowl over the last few years, all six teams have played in the Fiesta or Sugar Bowls, with the Fiesta hosting four of them -- including both TCU and Boise State last January.

So as part of a new deal, the other BCS bowls approached the Rose Bowl and asked them to take a non-BCS school once during the next four years should one of its traditional choices not be available.

Which is a situation that looks very possible this year, with Oregon on top both voter polls and second in the BCS.  Should Oregon win out, odds are they'll be playing for a title, not in the Rose Bowl.  So the Rose Bowl would be looking for a team to replace them.

Now, they could take Stanford, and keep the traditional matchup against the Big Ten champion.  Or they could go TCU, but there's also a chance that TCU will qualify for the title game should Auburn drop a game before then.

Considering all the Cam Newton drama, and the fact that the Tigers have three games left against Georgia, Alabama and whoever wins the SEC East, this isn't exactly a longshot.

Still, if TCU went to the title game, the Rose Bowl wouldn't be obligated to take Boise this season because only one non-BCS conference school needs to be selected each season.  That being said, it may make more sense for the Rose Bowl to take Boise this year, and the Rose Bowl's director of media, Gina Chappin, says it's something the bowl has been considering.

“We have discussed it because of the situation that we’re in and the current landscape of the season so far,” said Gina Chappin.

“We entered this year with the reality that this was going to happen sooner or later. I don’t think any of us expected to get through this four-year cycle and not have this be something that would be a reality.”

If you think about it, it would make a lot of sense for the Rose Bowl to take Boise State over Stanford.  First of all, if you are required to do so at some point in the next four years, why not do it quickly and get the obligation out of the way?

There's also the fact that Boise State is a really good football team right now, and there's no guarantee that three years from now, should the Rose Bowl find itself in the same situation, that a non-AQ school will be available that is as good as this Boise State team.

Also, Boise State has already shown that it can compete and win BCS bowl games, and that it has a fan base that will travel and scoop up tickets in droves to the games.

It's possible that more Boise State fans would make the trip to Pasadena than Stanford fans would.  The Broncos are also a television draw, not that the Rose Bowl needs any real help there, but plenty of college football fans would be interested in seeing Boise State take on the Big Ten champion.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 7:41 pm
 

Playoff PAC takes aim at three BCS bowls

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the most intriguing subplots of last bowl season was the hot water the Fiesta Bowl found itself in for allegations of political tomfoolery, which is a no-no for a tax-exempt organization. The allegations, in a nutshell, were that director John Junker would privately urge employees to make campaign contributions to specific candidates or PACs, and the employees would be reimbursed with bonus checks. The allegations didn't really go anywhere, since that type of conduct is awfully hard to prove, but it was a signal that the heat is on the BCS bowls.

That heat's being felt at the highest levels, too; when senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) sent a letter to the BCS with several inquiries about the particulars of the BCS arrangement, BCS exectuive director Bill Hancock responded with a (and we're being charitable here) dismissive statement, saying "Congress has more important things to do" than investigate the BCS. That type of statement, from the director of an organization that oversees the distribution of tens of millions of dollars, is usually a giant red flag signaling that Congress might have a reason to investigate.

The scrutiny continues today, as Playoff PAC -- a PAC dedicated to busting up the BCS system in place -- recently issued a wide-reaching challenge of the tax-exempt status of three of the BCS bowls, alleging financial misdeeds by the Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Orange Bowl:

- Paul Hoolahan, CEO of the New Orleans-based Sugar Bowl, received a $645,000 salary in 2009, a nearly $200,000 increase from his 2007 salary.

- John Junker, CEO of the Arizona-based Fiesta Bowl, received a salary of nearly $600,000 from the bowl and related organizations in the fiscal year ending in 2009, a hefty bump from his 2006 salary of $415,000. Also, Junker and the bowl's then-vice president for marketing, Doug Blouin, both received $120,000 worth of zero-interest loans in the early 2000s, and Junker received an additional $4,500 loan whose interest level was not disclosed.

The AP independently confirmed the figures by reviewing the tax returns.

Naturally, citing the CEOs' salaries on their own would seem to be a contentious idea, inviting a reflexive "what do you have against rich people" from some who are well-versed in today's climate of identity politics. The context doesn't really help the bowls' case -- especially considering the complaint declines to allege misdeeds by the other two bowls, whose executives average $320,000 in annual salary:

Playoff PAC argued that the executive salaries are "above market" and "an abuse of their organizations' favorable tax status." The PAC cited a 2009 NonProfit Times survey, which calculated an average chief executive salary of $185,000 at nonprofits with similar operating budgets ($10 million-to-$25 million).

The biggest issue, though, would be the use of money on lobbying, and like with the no-interest loans, the primary offender here would be the Fiesta Bowl:

The complaint accuses the Fiesta Bowl of not disclosing lobbying activities. The IRS says that an organization can't qualify for 501(c)(3) status "if a substantial part of its activities" involves lobbying, although some lobbying is allowed.

The PAC noted that the Fiesta Bowl reported paying around $1.2 million in fees over the last five years to lobbying firm Husk Partners Inc., yet in each of the last five tax returns, the bowl checked "no" on whether it engaged in lobbying activities or attempted to influence legislation. In addition, the Fiesta Bowl registered with the Arizona Secretary of State lobbying disclosure system during this period.

Tax-exempt organizations are also forbidden from making campaign donations. Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth listed the Arizona Sports Foundation - the entity for the Fiesta Bowl - as making a $2,000 donation to his legal defense fund, prior to his unsuccessful challenge to Arizona Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary. The PAC said Hayworth was testing the waters for a Senate race, making the contribution suspect.

Today, four Congresspeople -- all representing districts containing or close to Mountain West schools -- urged action on this complaint, and it's entirely possible that the IRS moves forward. Is it politically motivated? Of course it is.

But Playoff PAC had better hope that if action is taken, it directly leads to the implementation of a playoff system. After all, even if these bowls are in the wrong, if they fix their problems and say "all better," what then? This isn't really an argument for a playoff at all, and it doesn't seem as if the BCS is going to be any more amenable to co-existing with a playoff afterwards than it was before.

 
 
 
 
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