This past week when UNC was taking on East Carolina there was an appearance made by an Orange Bowl executive, as the News and Observer's Andrew Carter let us know.
There's a guy from the Orange Bowl here. Remember UNC can't go bowling. Who says these bowl scouts are part of a wasteful enterprise?
— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) September 22, 2012
No, the Tar Heels can't go to a bowl and yes, this instantly became a reason to attack the system for overspending and frivolously dropping cash. It's a formula that works largely in part to Death To The BCS. Except the Orange Bowl and their people have a new deal where the ACC controls the game and it is in everyone's best interest for the 12—soon to be 14—ACC teams to be well acquainted with their destination bowl.
Especially when North Carolina State is about half an hour a way and the bowl personnel can make two stops on one trip.
So while that view of the system is a bit of rabble rousing, the setup for bowls is not yet out of the woods. Even as schools start to command their major bowls and negotiate the television revenues for themselves, there are still whole scale flaws in the greater bowl picture. Slotting, selection and ticket responsibility are still an issue.
When Notre Dame agreed to join in the ACC's bowl tie-ins, people were appalled that the league would allow the Fighting Irish to skip an ACC team that had one more win than them in order to get a more attractive spot. The problem is, those people just have not been paying attention to the ACC. If they were, they'd realize that the league already acted on that "within one game" principle, thus the Notre Dame agreement was in line with the conference's other members.
Ask Boston College how the slotting has impacted their squad since joining the ACC. The Eagles are consistently pushed down a slot or two, not because of the quality of their program, but rather because of the ability to sell. A small, private school in the Northeast doesn't have quite the same cache as a team from the Southeast, within driving distance and a reputation for traveling decently to games.
Selection goes hand in hand with in-conference slotting. When there are openings that cannot be filled with the properly slotted team from a conference, the bowls do the selecting themselves, and that means "get the best sell possible" to executives. If you're an MAC or Sun Belt school with eight or nine wins, sorry but the Pac-12 or SEC team with six wins will be getting in over you every time.
More than one team has stayed home to watch a less-than-inspiring BCS team go add to their conference's total bowl revenue haul.
Oh, and yes, revenue. In this case, tickets are where you'll find the biggest flaw. Schools being forced to purchase gobs of tickets, pay for hotels and just hope to break even as they travel to a distant location to play a game. For the BCS schools, it ultimately becomes worth it. Bowl revenue is a pot that's split among all of the league's members.
For the non-BCS school, they are not getting the one—or in some cases two—shares from the BCS Bowl game. That means no $17 million to go into the pot along with the several hundreds of thousands from their bowl trips. In other words, there are plenty of times when schools are losing money on the trip to play in an empty stadium because they couldn't sell all of their tickets.
There are a lot of flaws in the bowl system. Hopefully, with schools stepping up to take more control of the bowl games, some of the issues (most notably the ticket burden) can be eliminated. For all the complaining in an effort to get a playoff, little has been done to help the schools that are not at the very top. Not much will change for now, but with the 2014 shift and more money pumped into the coffers, hopefully there is some trickle-down effect to the rest of the bowl system.
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