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The bid is in for the NCAA Champions game

We are officially bidding on the new Champions Bowl, the 2014 replacement for the BCS Championship Bowl, for Reliant Stadium. We heard about this in July, and it makes sense that Houston was solicited for a bid and that we’d go through with it. Mostly I’m noting this because I was amused by the following in the story:

The bid for the Champions Bowl is for 12 years and includes being a semifinal site four times, said Heather Houston, executive director of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Houston declined to disclose the terms of the bid – a joint effort between the city of Houston, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment – but said “it’s really competitive.”

“We’re really honored and very proud of the bid that we’ve put forth,” Houston said. “We feel like it’ll stack up against any other market.”

Part of the reason for submitting a bid, Houston said, is the city’s “proven track record” of hosting a postseason bowl game and major sporting events. Reliant Stadium was the site of the 2004 Super Bowl and the 2011 NCAA men’s Final Four. A bowl game, currently the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, has been played at the stadium since 2006.

“We felt like we have just as strong a chance as anyone else,” Houston said. “The only thing we don’t have going for us is the history, but we have a lot of other things that make up for that.”

Am I the only one who read that and had a brief moment where it seemed like the city of Houston had come to life and begun speaking for itself? I’m thinking this is one of those time when the Chron should have adopted the NY Times style guide and referred to the spokesperson as “Ms. Houston”, which might have made the whole thing seem a bit less surreal. Be that as it may, I hope the bid is well-received.

The BCS blahs

Were you thinking that the BCS bowl lineup this year was a bit of a snoozefest? You weren’t alone if so.

Ticket sales for some of those games — the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls — have been sluggish, and ratings generally have been lukewarm for matchups that haven’t gotten the casual fan excited.

“We have to find a way to revitalize the market place,” Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan said.

The ratings for Hoolahan’s game were down a touch, from 8.5 last year when the game was on Fox to 8.4 this season, ESPN’s first as the TV home of the BCS — though the Superdome in New Orleans was filled to capacity Tuesday for BCS-newcomer Arkansas and Ohio State, one of college football’s glamour programs and a reliable draw with its enormous alumni base.

The Fiesta Bowl and the Orange Bowl had more serious issues.

The Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 between Oklahoma and Connecticut drew a 6.7 rating, down 22 percent from last year, and UConn sold only about 5,000 of the 17,500 tickets the school was required to buy from the organizers.

Attendance at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., was 67,232, about 6,000 below capacity for the game.

At the Orange Bowl in Miami, Stanford and Virginia Tech drew a 7.1 overnight rating, down from last year’s 7.2 for Georgia Tech-Iowa, and the attendance of 65,453 was about 9,000 below capacity at Sun Life Stadium as neither team came close to selling its allotment of 17,500 tickets.

Perhaps if there were some way to make each game more important. You know, by making them part of a quest for something bigger. I’m sure someone can think of a system that could accomplish that. See this NYT story about PlayoffPAC for more.

From the “If at first you don’t succeed, lower your standards” department

Too many bowl games, (maybe) not enough bowl-eligible teams.

The NCAA’s football postseason licensing subcommittee might have to alter eligibility rules for playing in the postseason depending on how the season plays out.

There are 35 bowl games this year, and there’s a chance not enough teams will meet the current criteria. One option being explored is letting teams with losing records into the postseason.

“The committee has begun to discuss the situation and has a host of options if the circumstances arise,” committee chair Nick Carparelli, Jr., an associate commissioner of the Big East Conference, said this week.

In April, the NCAA added another bowl game, bringing the total to 35. That means 70 teams will have to meet the current qualifications to participate, which include six wins, including five against teams from Division I’s top level, the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Last year, 71 eligible teams emerged to fill 68 slots for 34 bowl games. This year, with Southern Cal ineligible because of sanctions imposed in the Reggie Bush case, it’s not certain that the NCAA would have 70 eligible teams.

Would someone please explain to me again why a playoff system would be bad for college football? I seem to have forgotten the reason. Thanks.

More heat on the BCS

I realize there are about a billion higher priorities for the President and the Congress to be dealing with these days, but I still really enjoy watching these guys squirm.

At a hearing Friday before the House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection, three members of Congress decried the manner in which college football decides its national champion and warned government action could be implemented should changes not be made voluntarily by the sport’s administrators.

Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton, who has introduced legislation that would prohibit the NCAA from advertising its national champion in football as such unless it was produced via a playoff system, levied the most pointed criticisms of his peers toward the Bowl Championship Series.

“It’s interesting that people of good will keep trying to tinker with the current system, and to my mind it’s a little bit like — and I don’t mean this directly — but it’s like communism,” Barton said in his opening statement. “You can’t fix it. It will not be fixable. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to try a new model, and that’s why we’re here today.”

I can’t say I endorse Smokey Joe’s rhetoric, but I stand with him on the nature of the problem and the need for a real solution. And hey, better he focus on something he has some hope of actually understanding.

Four high-ranking college football officials testified before the subcommittee. Proponents of the current BCS system predicted that renowned bowl games would become endangered if a playoff system was initiated.

“It will be very difficult for any bowl, including the current BCS bowls, which are among the oldest and most established in the game’s history, to survive” because sponsorships and television revenue would go toward playoff games, BCS coordinator and ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “Certainly the 29 games that are not part of the BCS would be in peril.”

Okay, first of all new bowl games have been popping up like weeds even though none of them have any hope of ever having anything to do with a national championship. I don’t see why a transition to a playoff system would imperil such games. Hell, there are now three postseason men’s basketball tournaments that are not the NCAA championships. I see no reason why there could not continue to be ancillary postseason events in football; it’s not like the demand for more football is going to go down, after all. Finally, the “oldest and most established” bowls are ginormous boondoggles that drain money away from the universities and conferences that participate in them; they are long overdue for extinction. We may or may not be able to fix global warming and the financial crisis, but we can damn sure do something about that.