SAPAKOFF COLUMN: There's no crying in bowl hardball
Countries don't have morals. They have interests.
Bowl game selection committees have seats to fill, local chamber of commerce folks to please, and that TV ratings slot. At 134th on their to-do list -- right below "Check school mascot curfew" -- is "Fairness over profit."
Times are tough out there, even for people with a parade budget. That's why college football bowls think first about the bottom line and later about using a team quality index when picking a pairing.
The at-large bowl pecking order has always been this way. That's why whining about a Sugar Bowl matchup of Virginia Tech vs. Michigan, as well as other bowl decisions, is a waste of time.
Breaking news: The business of college football is business.
Bowl games began as a way for sunny places to enhance holiday tourism. Not much has changed, aside from TV and the obvious appeal of college football as a prime-time reality series.
Or: Ever notice there are many nature shows about Alaska and not many set in Kansas?
"I don't think anybody is happy anywhere," Boise State coach Chris Peterson said in his BCS blast.
He forgot about Frank Beamer.
The Sugar Bowl thinks Michigan-Virginia Tech works better than Boise-Kansas State, and the Hokies coach was quite pleased to explain his good luck after losing to Clemson by four touchdowns in the ACC championship game: "I think there are a lot of reasons why you would like to have Virginia Tech in your bowl game," Beamer beamed.
Gamecocks vs. Cowboys
Playoff system. Computer analysis. Ping-pong balls drawn by Verne Lundquist. … We will never agree on a perfect postseason plan.
Just look at the contrasts:
BCS present: National championship: LSU-Alabama; Rose: Oregon- Wisconsin; Sugar: Michigan-Virginia Tech; Orange: Clemson-West Virginia; Fiesta: Oklahoma State-Stanford.
Current BCS ranking system plus computer meritocracy rule (picking the top BCS teams from Nos. 3-10 in two-round draft order of Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta): National championship: LSU-Alabama; Rose: Oregon-Wisconsin; Sugar: Oklahoma State-South Carolina; Orange: Arkansas-Boise State; Fiesta: Stanford-Kansas State.
A BCS future "Plus One" model: Rose: LSU-Stanford; Sugar: Alabama-Oklahoma State; Orange: Arkansas-Boise State; Fiesta: Stanford-Kansas State. BCS national championship: Rose winner vs. Sugar winner two weeks later.
Old-school "major bowls" (conference tie-ins plus open at-large picks): Rose: Oregon-
Wisconsin; Sugar: LSU- Stanford; Orange: Oklahoma State-Alabama; Fiesta: Arkansas-Boise State.
Golden Eagles jackpot
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit fumed.
"You look at Michigan and Virginia Tech both bringing a lot of fans," he said. "But is that what it's come down to? Kellen Moore and Boise State, Baylor and Robert Griffin, Kansas State, and Bill Snyder is the coach of the year. But the BCS at-large selections are all about how teams come into cities and fill up hotel rooms."
Rare, and nice, for an ESPN analyst to slam the network product.
Sure, sweet Sugar would have been bubbly Boise State vs. Robert Griffin III.
But not sure the nation is clamoring to see ol' Bill Snyder work his sideline magic.
Dumping the USA Today poll would be the best BCS tweak. The understandably biased coaches are too busy to keep track of their own players, let alone other teams. Worse, the preseason poll ranking is an element of unfair reward/punishment.
Not sure Alabama climbs to No. 2 in the USA Today poll without starting out at No. 2 (Oklahoma State was No. 8 in the preseason ranking).
But sometimes teams beat The System, and no better example this year than Southern Miss. Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora, on his way out the door to North Carolina, had theoretically better bowl options closer to Hattiesburg but chose the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl to "reward" the Conference USA champs with a trip to a "special place."
So special, there might not be a school mascot curfew.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter at @sapakoff.