March 17, 2011

Bowls continue to cost top teams

Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.

1. MONEY MATTERS. It's an annual rite, like the melting of the winter snow and South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia getting into trouble: reports of massive money losses incurred by schools during bowl trips. Auburn lost $614,106 on its trip to the BCS title game. Virginia Tech ate $1.6 million with its Orange Bowl appearance. UConn lost almost $1.8 million from its Fiesta Bowl journey. Oklahoma "made" $9,350 from its Fiesta appearance, but only after the Big 12 absorbed 10,403 tickets at a cost of $1,884,150 that the school was supposed to sell for that scintillating Fiesta Bowl matchup against UConn that absolutely no one wanted to see. It makes you wonder if it's really worth it for schools to go to these bowls. The bowls mostly are bad business for everyone ... but the bowl organizers.

2. HEY, THIS LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE BOWLS. The 68-team NCAA tournament field is a bloated mass of mediocrity, featuring myriad teams that have no business playing in the Big Dance. Sound familiar? It should. The NCAA tourney now is officially as watered down as the bowl system. Is it really a reward to play in the Big Dance? Not anymore. Rather, it's now just as embarrassing to miss the NCAA tourney as it is a bowl game.

3. MORE APOLOGIES NEEDED. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel recently apologized to the Ohio State fan base and said he hoped his role in the Buckeyes' memorabilia-selling scandal wasn't a distraction to the top-ranked Buckeyes basketball team, which is the favorite to win the NCAA title. But instead of just apologizing to Ohio State fans, Tressel also should beg for forgiveness from every Big Ten school. The Buckeyes' 2010 Big Ten crown is tainted. Would Ohio State still have won a share of the title if some of its key players had been suspended for a few games? Perhaps. But likely not. That means Tressel's cheating likely cost Michigan State a shot to play in its first BCS bowl. We know Tressel won't apologize to Michigan State or any other Big Ten schools. But Tressel almost assuredly can be guaranteed of being slapped with harsher penalties by the NCAA than the comical self-imposed "punishment" of a two-game suspension (vs. lackeys Akron and Toledo) and $250,000 fine that Ohio State imposed on him. The players involved have been booted for the first five games of 2011. Tressel should be suspended for longer since he is in a position of leadership and authority. Isn't he supposed to set an example? And Tressel's fine should be well in excess of $1 million. And why stop there? I think Ohio State should forfeit its victories and Big Ten title from 2010. Tressel knowingly used ineligible players all season.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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