BCS Bowl Shakeup?

March 29, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Ever since Jerry Jones built his state of the art stadium in Dallas, college football fans and writers have wondered how long it would be before he tried to Texas two-step his way into the BCS bowl picture. Thanks to some shenanigans by the Fiesta Bowl and it’s now fired executive John Junker, such an outcome may be more likely.

First, let’s run down some BCS bowl history…There are five BCS games in total; the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar, plus the national title game.

The Iowa Hawkeyes have been to two BCS Bowl games since the formation of that ‘organization’; the 2003 and 2010 Orange Bowls. The winner of the Big Ten conference is automatically qualified for a BCS bowl, more often than not the Rose Bowl. However, there have been instances where the Big Ten champion has gone to a bowl game other than the Rose Bowl; when that team has been playing for the national title in a year the Rose does not host that game, or such as was the case in 2002 when there was a split championship in the league and Iowa and Ohio State did not play and the Buckeyes were undefeated.

Iowa still could have gone to the Rose Bowl that year, but the Orange chose to select Iowa and pitted them against the USC Trojans.

This past year was also the first year where the Rose Bowl had an obligation to take a non-BCS conference qualifier if that team ranked high enough in the final BCS pecking order and the Rose lost either the Big Ten champion or the Pac 10 champion to the national title game; Oregon played for the national title and TCU was ranked high enough, so they played (and beat) Wisconsin. However, for the next three years the Rose will NOT have to take a non-BCS conference qualifier.

A few years ago, a nine-win Illinois team was selected by the Rose Bowl as an at large choice despite not winning the Big Ten and having a 9-3 record; they were in the Top 14 of the BCS standings, which was a requirement for them to be considered in the at large pool.

The Fiesta & Sugar bowls are also a part of the BCS lineup, and Ohio State has been to both of those bowl games as at large selections in recent years and the Fiesta was seriously considering Iowa as their selection following the 2009 regular season, but opted to pair unbeaten non-BCS conference teams Boise State and TCU for a ‘People’s Champion’ match up.

Now, back to the Fiesta….are they at risk of losing their status as a BCS bowl game and the millions that go along with the designation?

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According to the current head of the BCS, Bill Hancock, the answer is yes. This, from Hancock in the item we just linked:

“The BCS group takes this matter very seriously and will consider whether they keep a BCS bowl game, and we will consider other appropriate sanctions,” Hancock told the Arizona Republic. “If the bowl does remain a BCS bowl its handling of things will be closely monitored going forward.”

Another news outlet is reporting that the BCS is asking the Fiesta Bowl committee to prove to them why it deserves to keep its BCS bowl game.

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The following is just speculation on my part, but when I read rhetoric like that, alarms go off…as in, were these guys (the BCS) just looking for a reason to make a change and the Fiesta sort of involuntarily offered itself up as a sacrificial lamb due to alleged nefarious activities?

Smells like it to me.

Enter the Cotton Bowl Classic, now played in Jerry Jones’ impressive facility. This game is currently aired on Fox and ESPN has the BCS bowl contract for the next several years and in all likelihood won’t let the rights to that product be removed from its talons…however, they can probably write a big enough check to get that TV deal changed.

If the Cotton Bowl makes the jump to BCS status, it will then be in the national title game rotation…in Dallas, Texas…in a stadium that can seat more than 100,000 people…plus they get to double up every four years and host the Cotton and the national title game.

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That’s a big winner for Dallas and a bigger winner for Jerry Jones and likely a winner for the BCS, if you are in to that sort of thing.

I was down in the Phoenix area this past December for Iowa’s Insight Bowl game. That game is played at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, while the Fiesta is played in the Arizona Cardinals facility in Glendale. The entire collection of cities and suburbs provided great views and a good time for Iowa fans, as there are a lot of native Iowans living in the Valley of the Sun. The weather is likely going to be better there in January than it will be in Dallas (remember the ice chunks falling off of Jerry World leading up to the Super Bowl?)

I really don’t have a dog in the fight, other than hoping Iowa makes to as many of these BCS games as possible, and the program has certainly put itself in the position of being in the conversation every so often…

So this is something to keep an eye on in the off season, as it might have an impact on a future Iowa bowl destination…we hope.

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