Gator Bowl Speaks: Money Over Merit For BCS

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Gator Bowl Speaks: Money Over Merit For BCS
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Someone has finally taken a stand.

Corporate America will no longer endorse a Bowl Game where a team is rewarded a prestigious location and New Year's date because they have earned it

No! Months of hard work, dedication, "blood, sweat, and tears" will no longer be cause for jubilation.  Sponsors just receive bailouts after all! Non-sellout crowds and deserving programs cannot and will not be tolerated.

It has long been known the Bowl Championship Series has been flawed, and likewise, it has been no secret for years on end that the NCAA has no intention of fixing it. 

That knowledge served as wind beneath the wings of the Gator Bowl today as it chose not to extend its relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference beyond the 2009 season.

Largely in part to the "Boston College Rule," a policy endorsed by the whole of the ACC which actually forces the bowls to pick its ACC affiliate on merit and record, the Gator Bowl Committee concluded the relationship with the conference could no longer work.  A relationship that has lasted over 13 years without fail, ended over money.

The "B.C. Rule," more properly termed the "one-win rule," states that a bowl can select a team within one conference win/loss of the best qualified team on the board.  For example, if Boston College goes 6-4, but does not make a BCS game, the next highest bowl has to pick BC or a team that went 5-5 in conference.  It was put in place after the university dropped to the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho its first year in the conference, despite a better finish that many other bowl-eligible ACC teams.

The problem, for Corporate America, you ask?

Despite having a beautiful campuses and generous Alumni, as well as many players in the NFL, some schools from the conference simply do not travel as well as others.

While Boston College and the University of Miami may deliver huge television rating, they are small schools with fan bases that often do not make the long trek for the late December games.  Moreover, if a team like BC made it to the ACC Championship Game, it's fans are forced to pay airfare within a week of flying out from the northeast to Florida, which I assure you, is not light on the wallet.

A television network is pleased to see these schools on their menu, as they know college football rules the airwaves at this time of year and the schools pack a punch in ratings, but the corporate sponsors of the bowls do not like having their name associated with empty seats. 

Tickets, merchandise, and banners will go unpurchased, unused, or unseen by droves because of the "one-win rule" forcing the bowl to select a deserving school over a fan base that is within driving distance, or "graduates" thousands a year and captivates locals.

Fans of Boston College know this all too well.  They have been told they do not travel well, and they do not deny it.  But they are a small and young fan base, growing annually, but slowly nonetheless.

The effort their players put on and off the field is no different than that exerted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute, North Carolina State, or Clemson.  Corporate America does not reward effort though, it rewards results, and not the results one the field, but in the ticket offices.

Thankfully, for them, there is the Gator Bowl; their night in shining armor. 

As if President Obama (no disrespect meant to the President associating him with the terrible BCS process) his self were the chairman, reaching out to the corporate sponsors, thanking them exporting their jobs overseas and raising prices so that the average fan must choose between football or food, the Gator Bowl said please, take a second bailout company-X (Toyota, last year, ironically). 

We will make sure you get a team that may not deserve to be here, but will pack our stadium.  Our bowl has been in rapid decline, and we will sell our soul for a chance at the lime light again.

Not for nothing, but Jacksonville is not an easy location to travel to, with an airport a half hour and $50 cab ride from its city center.  Let them not forget, your average student cannot rent a car without a sizable insurance policy. 

In case they needed a reminder, their city is not the safest in the country, and police officers and cab drivers alike will tell you not to venture far from the outdoor mall alone. To go further, despite being in Florida, it is not too warm at that time of the year either.

Frankly, as an ACC fan, I was glad to see the city remove itself from association with the ACC Championship Game, and though I would have taken a trip to the Gator Bowl, I am not sad to see it go. 

A city often portrayed as sleazy and crime-riddled city stepping up to the plate for Corporate America, refusing to give credit where credit is due, welcoming fat wallets over deserving kids? 

Why am I not surprised.

Your hero, Wall Street: Jacksonville, Florida, home of the Gator Bowl.

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