April 3, 2011

Roundtable: Will the Fiesta lose BCS spot?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Do you think the Fiesta Bowl will lose its place as a BCS bowl?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Frankly, I would be surprised if the Fiesta Bowl doesn't lose its place among the BCS bowls. BCS executive director Bill Hancock has already said that it's a possibility. The BCS is always trying to justify the bowl system, which the vast majority of fans detest. So, when serious improprieties like those involving the Fiesta Bowl become public, it adds to the perception that the bowl system is flawed and corrupt. I think the BCS has to drop the Fiesta Bowl to save face. Besides, that would then enable the BCS to return the Cotton Bowl to its original "big four" status. The Cotton Bowl has more history, is now played in a 100,000-seat indoor stadium and is located in Dallas, which gives the Big 12 a BCS bowl within its footprint.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it will happen. I believe the BCS honchos have to strip the Fiesta Bowl of its BCS status in an effort to maintain what little credibility the system has. The BCS already was a widely criticized organization. This entire sordid affair with the Fiesta Bowl may have stripped away any remaining trust/integrity the BCS bowls and system had. The graft and illicit activities uncovered at the Fiesta Bowl make you wonder if the same stuff is going on at the other BCS bowls. Even if the Fiesta Bowl is given the boot and replaced by the Cotton Bowl in the BCS system, it may be too late to save the BCS. With increased media scrutiny and more voracious cries from the public, this could start the process of the entire BCS system breaking down. And if that happens, I don't think we necessarily would see the evolution of a playoff. Instead, I think we would see the college football postseason revert to how it was in the pre-BCS days, when schools struck deals with bowls at the end of each season.

David Fox's answer:
If the BCS expels the Fiesta Bowl, could other bowls follow? We already know the Orange Bowl paid for a cruise for more than 40 college sports administrators. Other bowl games might not approach the level of corruption we saw out of John Junker and the Fiesta, but there's at least the potential of other abuses within the system. What if the other bowls, flush with money, are throwing around cash in any way similar to the Fiesta? I would be surprised if the BCS could expel one bowl unless it were certain its other bowl games couldn't be kicked out, too. Punting the Fiesta Bowl would be an interesting precedent, one that could have far-reaching ramifications that could topple the whole system. And if there's anything the BCS stands for, it's preventing drastic change. I could see serious sanctions facing the Fiesta Bowl - perhaps skipping the game in the championship game rotation (next up in 2015) or forcing the team to take the last at-large bid for a number of years. The Fiesta Bowl might not be expelled, but if we see similar corruption elsewhere, the next bowl might not be so lucky.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
If the Cotton Bowl weren't such an attractive candidate, I think the Fiesta Bowl could skate through this. But I'm not so sure now. The Cotton Bowl is played in the nation's nicest stadium and has a ton of tradition. BCS critics will continue to have a field day if the Fiesta Bowl isn't removed from the title game mix. That's not something the BCS folks want or need.

Steve Megargee's answer:
It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Fiesta Bowl lost its BCS spot as a result of this scandal. For one thing, the Fiesta doesn't have the tradition of the Rose, Sugar or Orange bowls. Back in the old days, when the college football season ended on New Year's Day, the four major bowls were the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton. Somewhere down the line, the Fiesta gained stature while the Cotton lost its clout. Well, the Cotton Bowl already was making a push to gain BCS status after moving into Cowboys Stadium. The most recent Cotton Bowl took place in prime time in a post-New Year's Day slot and had a matchup (LSU vs. Texas A&M) that already was more attractive than a couple of last season's BCS games. The Cotton already has the look of a BCS bowl and the tradition of a BCS bowl. Why not go ahead and have it replace the Fiesta as a BCS bowl? I'd be more confident about the Rose, Sugar or Orange maintaining its BCS status after getting involved in this type of scandal. But I don't think BCS officials would have quite as much hesitation about replacing the Fiesta in the BCS mix, particularly when they have the Cotton as a potential alternative.



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