Posted on: April 28, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 8:25 pm
NEW ORLEANS -- Three names have emerged in the search for the next Fiesta Bowl executive director.
Big East senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli, Pac-12 associate commissioner Kevin Weiberg and WAC commissioner Karl Benson all have either been mentioned in college circles or are interested. Fiesta officials here for the BCS meetings would not discuss any specific names of candidates.
Weiberg, 54, is Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's right hand and currently is involved in setting up the conference's new network. Benson, 59, has been in charge of the WAC for the last 17 years. Carparelli is in a unique position. He has been here this week at the BCS meetings as chair of the NCAA bowl licensing subcommittee which will determine whether the Fiesta will be licensed going forward after a scandal rocked the 40-year old bowl.
It is not known whether any of three is on the Fiesta's short list. But it is known that at least Benson is interested in pursuing the job.
The Fiesta is restructuring after the firing of veteran executive director John Junker. It officials were here the past two days trying convince the NCAA and the BCS that it should remain a major bowl. Fiesta officials met with that bowl licensing subcommittee on Thursday. Earlier in the day, NCAA president Mark Emmert called for a task force to oversee bowl licensing, the feeling being that it has become too easy to be licensed. The assumption is that the Fiesta scandal was the tipping point.
The first step in that "healing" for the Fiesta is picking a credible executive director. Weiberg was hired 14 months ago as the then-Pac 10 deputy commissioner. Previously he held the same position at the Big Ten from 1989 to 1998. From 1998-2007, he was Big 12 commissioner. Weiberg was on the verge of convincing the Big 12 to start its own network before being rebuffed by Texas. Shortly thereafter he left the league. His expertise is in television and expansion. Weiberg is given credit for integrating Penn State into the Big Ten. He and Scott were part of the near-raid on the Big 12 that would have led to half the league coming to the Pac-10.
Benson deserves credit for doggedly keeping one of the lower-tier conferences together over the years. In May 1998, he was flat on his back on the couch after eye surgery as the 16-team WAC began to crumble underneath him. Half the teams bolted to start the Mountain West in 1999. In the last year the WAC has lost Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada. All four will leave the league within the next two seasons. Benson and the WAC have kept the league alive adding Texas State and Texas-San Antonio in future years.
Carparelli is listed as overseeing football and corporate sponsorships in his specific duties for the Big East.
The Fiesta will learn within the next month whether a BCS task force will decide whether to keep the bowl in the BCS. The NCAA bowl licensing subcommittee is waiting on the task force's decision before proceeding.
Fiesta board chairman Duane Woods said the group of CEO candidates are "diverse."
"It's somebody that the football committee would trust," said Nick Carparelli chair of the licensing subcommittee. "The committee feels like that the issues were systemic issues. There was an executive director in place [John Junker] that everybody did trust. Clearly, too much authority was given to that one individual."
Junker faces possible criminal charges for improper political contributions.
"It's always difficult to go back over the story again," Woods said after meeting with the NCAA. "It's painful. I think rebuilding trust takes up a lot of these conversations. No matter how tight the controls are, you are always disappointed when you find something like this. Yeah, we found some bad things."
Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 12:54 pm
NEW ORLEANS -- For those of you who have long wondered what the NCAA can do to rein in bowl excess, we may be about to find out.
NCAA president Mark Emmert is expected to put what is termed a "moratorium" on the addition of bowls in the future during a Thursday morning conference call. The NCAA announced the call with media Wednesday to discuss "bowl football licensing issues." The NCAA has precious little oversight regarding college football, even less in the postseason where its licensing of bowls has turned into a rubber stamp, partially because of legal reasons.
Emmert is expected to announce tougher licensing standards to address the overabundance of bowls now at 35. The 70 slots meant that some bowls came close to requesting a waiver to invite below .500 teams last season. The timing of the call comes during the BCS meetings here during which Fiesta Bowl officials are here trying to make their case to the NCAA bowl licensing subcommittee and a BCS task force. The task force is determining whether the Fiesta should be part of the BCS going forward. The Fiesta is restructuring after an independent report in March detailed lavish spending and possible criminal activity by former executive director John Junker.
The NCAA subcommittee certifies bowls on a four-year basis, although bowls can be evaluated year-to-year. Only two bowl, the old Silicon Valley Bowl and Seattle Bowl, have not been licensed in the history of the subcommittee and that was because of financial concerns. That's essentially all the power the NCAA has over the bowl system, aside from assigning from making officiating assignments. However, the subcommittee and task force are considering whether the Fiesta should be licensed/part of the BCS going forward.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock didn't know the exact nature of Emmert's call but said, "Personally, I think more oversight in general would be good for college football. I think anyone who viewed the Fiesta Bowl report would come away thinking the same thing."
Hancock added that, legally, the Fiesta could be kicked out of the BCS before next year's game. The task force is expected to issue a decision by mid-May. Fiesta officials met with members of the task force for what was termed an information-gathering session Saturday in Chicago.
"The answer is, yes, we believe there is [a way to kick out Fiesta]," Hancock said. "But we're miles away from there."
"There's a whole spectrum [of penalties] -- all the way from no action [to] all the way to the right side, finding another bowl game."
The 40-year old Fiesta Bowl is aligned with the Big 12. It selects the conference champion if that school is not selected to the BCS title game. The other spot in the bowl is at-large.
The fact that Emmert is speaking during the BCS meetings is significant. Perception-wise these are not good times for the NCAA and the BCS. The Fiesta scandal has been attached to others at Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee.
"We certainly are under a lot of heat," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. "We've got to carefully analyze where we're going. If you step out too far and make judgments at this time you usually regret them after. It would be very irresponsible to label where we are and what the future holds."
Other news nuggets from the BCS meetings:
--BCS commissioners are getting more concerned about the later date of the championship game. The 2010 game at the Rose Bowl was played Jan. 9. January's game in Glendale, Ariz. was the latest ever, Jan. 10. At this late date there is no firm date for the 2012 game here at the Super Dome because of the NFL labor situation. The traditional Sugar Bowl will be played Jan. 2 or Jan. 3 with the title game tentatively scheduled for Jan. 9. That could change, though, if the NFL schedule is pushed back even one week.
--The geeks will oversee the geeks. After a scoring input snafu in December, the BCS endured one of the biggest embarrassments in its history. LSU and Boise State were ranked in the wrong order in the final standings. The mistake was caught by CBSSports.com contributor Jerry Palm but did not affect the bowl placements. Hancock said the six BCS computer operators have established "peer review" that will make sure the right scores are placed into the computers. "They need to not let us down again," Hancock said sternly.
--The recent anti-trust challenge from Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff was met with a typically short rebuke. Shurtleff recently said he intends to sue the BCS for anti-trust violations. "We are absolutely confident that the BCS complies with the laws of the country," Hancock said.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: April 14, 2011 10:30 am
Not that its likely to bring down the BCS (at least on its own) but an upcoming book from a former political aide won't do any good for the rep of college football's embattled postseason.
Former Christian Coalition spokesperson Lisa Baron claims to have had a "sexual encounter" with Ari Fleischer shortly before he was named President Bush's press secretary. While that in and of itself breaks no laws, it does paint the BCS' chief mouthpiece in a negative light. That's right, for the past 17 months Fleischer has been in charge of, ahem, BCS public relations. To be fair, Fleischer did not yet work for W and was not married at the time, but you're reading this and who among us hasn't watched TMZ?
As I wrote at the time of his hiring, Ari's BCS task makes selling the Iraq war look easy.
The New York Daily News goes into a bit more, um, detail of the alleged tryst. (Tryst. Love writing that word. It makes a nuclear holocaust sound like it was a firecracker.) A promo quote from the book by Baron reads: "My remarkable encounter with Ari in that unremarkable hotel room perfectly summed up my groupie-like relationship to politics at that time — I wanted it, I worshipped it, and I went for it."
And we thought the BCS favored the rich and powerful.
Let the one-liners fly:
Non-profit BCS bowls promoted by a non-prophet
I've got your tax implications right here!
Forget double hosting, how about a double martini?
BCS -- Bimbos Collapsing the System
Plus One -- Let the mind go buck wild
Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 10:28 pm
Twenty-one economics, sports management and anti-trust experts have sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to look into legality of the BCS.
While this isn't huge news -- opponents have attacked the BCS on anti-trust issues for years -- it comes at a time when the system seems to be somewhat vulnerable. The Fiesta Bowl will meet with a BCS task force on April 23 in Chicago as part of an ongoing investigation. The meeting has been characterized as "information sharing." Ultimately, the bowl basically must justify why it should stay in the BCS after an in-house review revealed vast wrongdoing and lavish spending. John Junker was fired as Fiesta executive director after it was revealed there may have been illegal campaign contributions.
Here is the letter. It is interesting to note that only four of the 21 signatories are from BCS institutions. The highest profile member is economist Andrew Zimbalist who has been a critic and knowledgeable analyst of the college power elite.
" ... the core issue is that six conferences have bear hugged the goodies and agreed to run things for their mutual benefit," Len Simon told the Wall Street Journal. Simon, one of the 21, is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego which has been in the news recently.
The BCS has consistently maintained that it is not in violation of anti-trust laws.
"The Justice Department has been asked to do that [look into the BCS] before," said Bill Hancock, BCS executive director. "We have not heard a word from Justice. I think that is because they know the BCS complies with the law."
Alan Fishel, counsel for the Mountain West and Boise State responded: “I think it’s rather presumptuous of the BCS to make that assumption. To my knowledge, the Department of Justice has yet to make a determination regarding this matter.”
Eighteen months ago, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah sent a letter to President Obama asking him to urge the Justice Department to look into BCS anti-trust issues. A Justice official wrote back in January 2010 saying it was deciding whether to proceed. That caused much consternation among BCS types. If nothing else, the fact that Justice showed mild interest was a lot more threatening than just dismissing the matter. As recently as June, Hatch was urging Justice to investigate.
Hatch's stance is notable because it was around that time that the University of Utah, in the senator's home state, was being admitted into the Pac-10 which is a BCS conference.
The comments by two officials from last year indicate that the BCS will not be given special treatment:
Hatch asked the head of Justice's anti-trust division, Christine Varney, and Federal Trade commission chairman Jonathan Leibowitz: “Would the fact that these issues revolve around college sports keep the Justice Department from bringing a case” (against the BCS)?
Varney: “Senator, my view is that sports are business. They’re a big business, whether they’re in college or out of college… All of these enterprises are subject to the antitrust laws. We will obviously investigate, thoroughly pursue, and bring the appropriate action against any enterprise whether it’s sporting or otherwise that’s in violation of the antitrust laws.”
Leibowitz: “When Senator DeWine and Senator Kohl took over the Antitrust Subcommittee in, I think, 1997 and I was one of the staff directors, the first hearing we did was on the BCS. And at that time it seemed to us, and you know this, that it was a bunch of big, large competitors who got together … and excluded some of the little guys.”
Hancock added the Fiesta investigation won't be finished by the time of the annual BCS meetings April 26-28 in New Orleans.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 10:37 am
The Cotton Bowl would have "no problem" taking a spot in the BCS rotation if the Fiesta Bowl is kicked out, a source told CBSSports.com Wednesday morning.
The Cotton's television affiliation with Fox was thought to be a barrier toward the bowl joining the BCS rotation. ESPN has the BCS contract for the next three years. However, that source close to the situation said it would be easy for the Cotton to slide in to a spot vacated by the Fiesta.
It is not known if there is an out in the Cotton-Fox contract should a BCS spot open up. However, it is thought that Cotton Bowl sponsor AT&T could be involved in the transition process. Also, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would most likely support the move because his palace, Cowboys Stadium, is involved.
That revelation makes the Cotton the overwhelming favorite if the Fiesta is kicked out. The bowl was put on notice by the BCS on Tuesday following the firing of Fiesta CEO John Junker. In a strongly worded statement the BCS said the Fiesta would have "to demonstrate why it should remain a BCS bowl game."
The Fiesta is confident that, with reforms, it can remain in the BCS rotation. The Dallas-based Cotton was left out of the original BCS, established in 1998. Since then, it has been aggressively upgrading its bowl that currently features Big 12 and SEC teams.
Other bowls in line to join the BCS lineup if the Fiesta is kicked out: Chick-Fil-A in Atlanta and Capital One in Orlando, Fla.
Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:23 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 6:30 pm
In an unprecedented move, the BCS has asked the Fiesta Bowl to "to demonstrate why it should remain a BCS bowl game."
The statement followed the Fiesta's announcement that CEO John Junker had been fired, in part, because of improper campaign contributions. Bill Hancock, BCS executive director and Graham Spanier, chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, released a joint statement saying they would establish a task force to review the bowl's findings.
"We have asked the bowl to demonstrate why it should remain a BCS bowl game," the statement continues. "If the bowl remains a part of the BCS, its handling of this matter will be closely monitored going forward.
"It is imperative that Fiesta Bowl officials take all necessary steps to fully address and correct the problems they have reported."
The Fiesta Bowl could be dropped at any time, according to a BCS official. In changing bowls, the BCS is not bound by the current contract that runs through the 2013 season and 2014 bowls. There is language in the contract that says the bowls must meet "obligations to third parties." Seemingly, those obligations have been broken in the Fiesta's case.
But again, that doesn't mean the Fiesta is out. It means it is on double-secret probation.
“We are confident that the voluntary full disclosure of all these facts, and the corrective actions promptly taken by the board and the tremendous track record of our volunteer organization will be viewed positively by the BCS," said Duane Woods, Fiesta board chairman.
At first glance, the most likely beneficiary of the Fiesta Bowl's exclusion would be the Cotton Bowl. Left out of the BCS in 1998, the Cotton has desperately been trying to get a foot back in the door. Back then, it was thought that the Cotton had lost some prestige and had some issues with its aging stadium. However, its stature has improved with the recent move to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The LSU-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl could have qualified as a sixth BCS bowl, considering the quality of the teams.
However, because the Cotton has a contract with Fox for the next three years it is unlikely the network would let the bowl go to join ESPN and the BCS. Cotton Bowl executive director Rick Baker refused to comment. One bowl source summed up the days events saying, "It's going to look like we're dancing on the Fiesta Bowl's grave."
Established 40 years ago, the Fiesta Bowl evolved from a modest mid-level bowl, positioning itself to eventually gain entry into the BCS over the Cotton. During years when it hosts the national championship game, the Fiesta has three games -- the Insight, Fiesta and title game.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 12:38 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:41 am
SALT LAKE CITY -- Michael Young knows the law. Specifically, Harvard Law. (That was his law school.) Early in his career, Utah's president clerked for Supreme Court justice William Rehnquist.
So the question seemed logical when I posed it to Young Wednesday in his office: With your background, what do you think of the legal challenges to the BCS?
Young believes the BCS is most vulnerable when it comes to estricting fair trade, the anti-trust angle.
"That's the only place you could win," he said.
The usual calls for anti-trust action have been replaced by challenges to the BCS bowls' tax-exempt status. Young gave BCS haters everywhere hope when he said, "I actually think that there is probably a perspective where you could take it all the way and win the case [against the BCS]."
Remember, this is a guy who recently crossed over to the "dark side", from non-BCS to BCS. Utah joins the Pac-12 this year.
Young's comments came the same day as NCAA president Mark Emmert said the association would "be happy" to help create a playoff. Emmert's predecessor, the late Myles Brand, told me the same thing a few years ago. Of course, the NCAA would be happy to help with a playoff. It would profit from it (along the membership too, of course).
The reason the BCS exists is to keep it out of the hands of the NCAA. Point being, that the NCAA is powerless to create a playoff unless there is a sudden shift in the opinions of college presidents.
"An anti-trust case could go a little further," Young said. "The question is does [the BCS] tie up the market? I think the BCS' argument is that it doesn't because ... these are the [power-conference] schools that people care to watch."
What undermines that argument, Young said, is TV ratings. When non-BCS schools have gotten into BCS bowls, those games have done respectable ratings numbers. It's not necessarily all about televising the top 40 football factories. For example, ABC's telecast of the Rose Bowl (featuring TCU) had the second-largest bowl audience of the season, according to reports, behind only the BCS title game.
Young's experience in Washington, D.C. -- he also worked for four years in the State Department -- make him cynical. He wondered how many legislators from the states of major football powers (Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, for example) would attack the BCS. Maybe that's why Obama the Candidate used his call for an eight-team playoff as a populist ploy. Obama the President knows there is no way in hell, he could legitimately take on the BCS while in office with gas approaching $4 a gallon.
It's much more important to fix the country than to fix a sport.
"Somebody is going to figure out there is a bonanza out there to create a playoff system," Young said. "Once they see it and put the money up, it will happen."
Young was reminded that Mark Cuban is organizing a playoff war chest. So far, it has been ignored. Also, ABC essentially proposed a Plus One 6 1/2 years ago with the same result.
"What will blow up the BCS isn't going to be all this noise on the sideline," Young said. "What will blow up the BCS is when the [TV rightsholders] realize they can create a March Madness with football, when any of the major networks decide, 'This is bigger than the Olympics.' "
Posted on: January 21, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2011 10:13 am
I put out an informal Twitter poll request this week: In light of The Longhorn Network announcement, what is the over/under on number of years the Big 12 will last in its current configuration.
Dan Beebe may want to avert his eyes. Fifty persons responded. The average life span from the respondents? 3.4 years
Here's a sampling of some of the replies ...
I'm not into Big 12 bashing. Any league with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri (three 10 win seasons in the last four years) is formidable. It's going to be easier for the league to get two teams to the BCS each season without a championship game.
3.4 years? And some of us thought conference realignment had calmed down for a while. If an informal Twitter poll means anything, the upheaval has just begun.
This week's letters from the edge ...
I hope 2011 is better. 2010 left me feeling cheated by the NCAA, the SEC, the sports media herd, and Preacher Newton. I love the SEC and wanted to cheer for Auburn, but the smell was too great. And you in the media fed the momentum for that Newton thug, making this ripoff a fait accompli. I could not watch the biggest game of the year, and hung my head over the black eye to this greatest of all sports. With the possible nod to TCU, 2010 was the year without a national championship, and you in the media, the last line of defense, allowed it to be so.
What exactly did you want us to do? We reported the news to the best of our ability. We stayed on this Newton story so hard that the NCAA took the unusual step of dealing with player eligibility in the middle of an active investigation. What exactly did we miss?
We are, like you, still skeptical. We, like you, need closure from the 2010 season. We, like you, probably won't get it.
Two words summed up your post -- "real world". There is no real world in college athletics. Notre Dame is private. Texas is public. One has to release balance sheet. The other doesn't. Both are among the richest schools in the country. And that's just a start. There are still 118 other schools with their own stories, desires and bank accounts.
We should have it figured out by now. Athletic departments are like board rooms -- selfish and worried about the bottom line. The "stock" in this case are young adults on scholarships on whose talents the schools' "stock" fluctuates.
According to my research, you represent exactly 50 percent of the fans at Michigan right now. The other half wonder why the heck Dave Brandon couldn't do better.
There is no Louisiana-Lafayette. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette media guide has asked the media to call us UL, Louisiana or Ragin' Cajuns. The use of ULL or Louisiana-Lafayette is unexceptable.
Ragin' Politcally Incorrect:
Serious tip: I have this rule that I've enforced for the 13 years I've been at CBSSports.com. This isn't some court room where you can change your last name when it suits you. You've got to earn it, over decades. Calling Ooo-La-La, Louisiana is arrogant and wrong. The same goes for Central Florida (not UCF) and South Florida (not USF). In other words, you're not a household name just because you say so.
All name changes should go through a panel made up of USC, UCLA, ACC and K-State officials.
He did make an honest attempt and spoke to a few key players by cell phone when they landed after the bowl game. He even apologized. I've got no problem with that. Edsall and Maryland kept this whole thing under wraps perhaps better than any of the other coaching searches this season. We didn't know Edsall was at Maryland -- until Edsall was at Maryland. Hurt feelings heal. Randy Edsall's only duty is to his family, his employer and his players. He has done all he could for all of them.
At this time, SEC has had a good run in football and the BCS, no doubt. However, when CBS & ESPN, ABC tells you that the SEC is great, I wonder. You guys are paying a lot of money to the SEC, you really can't say anything bad, and lose viewers. Sorta like patting your 8-year-old on the head telling everyone how great he is.
... or sorta like saying the sky is blue. We were merely stating the obvious, no matter how repetitive it might be. The SEC is fantastic until further notice. Nothing can change that no matter who runs the company.
I really don't get your sniping at the Legends and Leaders division names. Get a life. I think they are fine. Hopefully they will build into a tradition in time. I really don't get why you hate the Big Ten Conference so much. It sure does show.
Thank you, Mr. Delany. Your correspondence is appreciated.
I still wish that Butler had hit on that 3-point, 3-fourths of a court shot at the end of the NCAA Championship Game last year. That would have done more for parity, folklore, and equalizing all sports, big and small, at all levels of college sports. Duke would have deserved it, too!
Little Big Man:
Obviously you haven't been watching Boise State, TCU, Utah and Jacksonville State in football.
How does a national championship game that isn't even on network TV in prime time demonstrate that the whole BCS concept is a good idea? Give me back the days when all the games were on New Year's Day and the winner was crowned shortly thereafter.
Ding, ding, ding! We have found one of the two percent of people who don't have basic cable. What's it like watching Oprah all day?
Let's just make it the SEC vs. Big 12 every year and get over with, right?
TCU beat four teams with at least eight wins this season. Wisconsin beat three. TCU beat five bowl teams. Wisconsin beat four. TCU was one of two undefeated teams left in the country. Wisconsin was not. The Mountain West is considered just as good or better than the ACC and Big East and may have a BCS berth beginning in 2012.