It is December 7, 2009 and we are one day removed from bowl selection. I am an Iowa fan and I am pleased as punch to be going to the Orange Bowl to play Georgia Tech. I admittedly was hoping to go to the Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State, but for me, it is no matter.
However, I must admit I was shocked to see the Fiesta pass up either of their choices for the at-large Big Ten team (Iowa or Penn State), both known cash cows, to sign up TCU against Boise State. Both of these teams are extremely worthy, but hardly a dream match-up for bowls that are historically and primarily interested in how much money they can bring to their fair cities.
So, I was left to ask myself what the reasoning behind the Fiesta Bowl's surprising choices could possibly be and I came up with two potential options.
The first is that the Fiesta Bowl selection committee are not too bright, and don't realize their intellectual limitations. Thus, as none-too-bright people they have made the fatal error of thinking too much. In this scenario one would have to believe that they figured getting two undefeateds would be almost like a second national title game. The intrigue of such a match-up would draw in television viewers and the schools' fans would be thrilled to get a chance at being crowned the best non-BCS team.
I agree that the intrigue of such a match-up will bring in a nice TV share, especially when one considers there will be no competition with any other games that day.
The problem, I would think, comes in when one considers BSU and TCU's fans. No, neither of them are known as travelling juggernauts. With an enrollment of just under 10,000 for TCU and about 19,000 for Boise State, it is something of an impossibility.
However, more importantly than that, if I were a TCU or BSU fan, I would be furious at this match-up. After all, what is to be gained? The champion of the non-BCS schools? Number two or three in the final BCS poll for the winner? Yes, there is plenty of money to be procured by playing in a BCS bowl, but what of the specific match-up? After all, TCU was guaranteed a BCS spot and once Oklahoma State lost it was fait accompli for BSU.
If I were a TCU or BSU fan I would want to play a BCS school—any BCS school—and make a statement, much as Utah did last year against current number one in the country Alabama. I would want to let the country know that we can compete with any team in the country, on any field and in any game.
Personally, I don't think one game quite proves that, but it's a start. Furthermore, I think it's something that both TCU and BSU deserve. In my opinion, this match up is demeaning. It's almost second tier Jim Crow-ish (yes, I realize that is a stretch, but abstractly speaking...).
If I were a TCU or BSU fan I would boycott travelling to Fiesta. Under those circumstances, I'd rather sit at home and watch on TV.
And, quite possibly, that is exactly what will happen.
Oh, and the second possibility? Collusion. The Fiesta took one for the team and picked two lemons (financially speaking) so that the BCS would not get embarrassed again and have not one, but two of their teams get manhandled by a supposedly "lesser" opponent.
Either way, I think it's a sham. I was looking forward to seeing what TCU and BSU had, either against my Hawkeyes or the Yellow Jackets or whomever (some might argue the "whomever" in question should be Alabama in the National Championship game). Instead, we'll get to see two deserving teams get to re-play last year's Poinsettia Bowl.