We knew a day like this would come. A day in which two non-BCS conference teams who came into the season ranked in the top 25 would be angling for unbeaten seasons past the midway point. TCU and Boise State each have a legitimate chance of running the table this year. But since the BCS 'allows' only one must take slot amongst all the non-BCS conferences, the chances of both schools being chosen as at-large teams is remote. But if recent history is any guide, it really shouldn't be such a reach to take both teams to BCS games, assuming they both qualify.
A bowl director's first job is to assemble the most compelling matchup as possible to drive the most economic impact to it's local community. For a BCS game, each school must agree to purchase between 15,000 - 17,500 tickets, regardless of whether or not they can, essentially, re-sell those tickets to their fans. This is part of a conference's agreement with various bowl games. So let's say that 35,000 tickets are bought and paid for before any BCS bowl game kicks off, essentially half the stadium. The other half are sold to sponsors and season ticket holders primarily in the local markets where the games are played. A another group of tickets are committed to BCS national sponsors. Bottom line: almost all tickets are sold for BCS bowl games. Whether all the patrons show up is another story...and that's where it gets interesting.
Bowl directors are nervous to invite these non-BCS conference at-large schools because they are generally smaller schools with lower enrollment and a smaller alumni and booster base. Therefore, the thought is that their fans won't 'stay and play' in the host market as long as those from BCS conferences. This equates to economic impact derived from rental cars, rounds of golf, restaurant and bar tabs, hotel rooms, etc.
But sponsors and season ticket holders frequently sell their tickets on the secondary ticket market for big dollars. They sell them to booster clubs, alumni and students (or parents of students) that couldn't get tickets via their school's allotment. This means more out-of-town visitors to the host city which equates to all the ecomonic impact.
The first non-BCS school to be chosen for a BCS bowl game was Utah. The Utes finished the 2004 regular season unbeaten and soundly defeated Pittsburgh, the Big East champion, in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, 35-7. Utah re-sold all their allotment on day one, and estimates are that another 30,000 tickets were bought by Ute fans in the secondary market. Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and Hawaii in the 2008 Sugar Bowl are two more examples of these smaller non-BCS schools going overboard and supporting their teams in big bowl games.
If the argument is about money and economic impact, it's not valid. Plenty of dollars are spent in New Orleans, Pasadena, Glendale and Miami regardless of whether they're spent by fans from Ft. Worth, TX or Gainesville, FL. The next bowl director from a BCS game who pickss the second eligible non-BCS school for their game will be the first. If Boise State and TCU are both undefeated and inside the top 10, they should both be selected.
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