The BCS is mad at the Fiesta Bowl. Really mad. So mad, the Bowl Championship Series is talking about booting the Fiesta from the BCS.
The Fiesta released a damning internal report Tuesday that read like something out of imperial Rome. Extravagant expenditures for Fiesta president John Junker. Illegal campaign contributions. Payouts to people like Big 12 Conference consultant Donnie Duncan for services unexplained.
Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut lost $1.6 million just for playing in the Fiesta Bowl, courtesy of all the Fiesta's ticket demands.
Corruption to the core.
The BCS is standing on moral outrage. The BCS “will not be associated with this kind of behavior,” said its executive director and my old pal, Bill Hancock.
I hate debating Hancock. But the BCS outrage stems from other motives.
Self-preservation. The focus on whether the Fiesta Bowl will retain its BCS status is misguided. The focus should be on whether the BCS will retain its status as college football's playoff.
And the answer increasingly is no.
But that message now seems even clearer. The BCS bowls take in a crazy amount of money, and not all of it goes where it should go.
If you didn't believe
How can a bowl that requires a Cinderella football school like Connecticut to buy 17,000 tickets, then spends that revenue like Caligula, foster any support? How can a system that sponsors this kind of behavior be trusted?
Love or hate the NCAA, you have to give it this. As best we can tell, the NCAA takes the massive billions it has earned from March Madness and turns the money back to the schools and the organization of championships in every other sport, every other level. Big-time football excluded, of course.
Contrast that with the BCS, where the massive sums go to the Orange, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta bowls, and they dole out money that isn't helping the Connecticut football team, much less the Central Oklahoma softball team.
“The bowl system is ripe for financial abuse,”
Too bad the book didn't wait a year. It could have written a chapter on Junker alone.
A $33,000 birthday celebration for Junker at Pebble Beach. Four memberships for Junker at exclusive golf clubs, for when he wasn't jetting over to Pebble Beach. A $1,200 bill at a Phoenix strip club.
Worse yet, a $48,000 annual payout to Duncan each of the last four years, plus a $16,000 donation to the college fund of Duncan's granddaughters.
Duncan is a valuable guy to have on your side, but what on Earth could he have been doing for the Fiesta? It's not like the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl have been in crosshairs; they've been fast friends for almost two decades.
How can university presidents and athletic directors possibly support such a system?
The masses have cried for a playoff because they want more playoff games and a truer champion. Presidents and ADs don't hear such protests.
But how could they not hear the claims of corruption? How could they argue that an NCAA-sponsored football tournament is somehow less idyllic than a bowl system that looks like the Roman Forum?
“Unprofessional, unethical or improper behavior is unacceptable,” Hancock said in a statement. “There is no place for such activities in higher education or in collegiate sports. It is expected that all parties contracted with the BCS will live up to the highest standards. We do not wish to be associated with entities that believe otherwise.”
Here's the trouble. The Fiesta Bowl is not a party contracted with the BCS. The Fiesta Bowl is the BCS.
The BCS knows it's in trouble. It also knows what happened to Rome. It crumbled from within.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.