College Football: BCS, spare us your false outrage
By Tim Dahlberg
NEW YORK ó The decision to keep the Fiesta Bowl in the Bowl Championship Series came at a price ó a $1 million donation to the kids of Arizona.
Put in terms Fiesta Bowl accountants can understand, that’s a couple of golf outings, three trips to strip clubs, and one big birthday bash.
And you thought it was hard to figure out the system used to pick teams for the BCS title game. Try figuring out how $1 million buys forgiveness for the guys in yellow jackets who got caught with their hands in a very lucrative cookie jar.
It doesn’t. As hand slapping goes, this was a million-dollar waste of time.
It hardly seems possible that it was only a month or so ago when the good ol’ boys who run the BCS were so outraged at the Fiesta Bowl shenanigans that they threatened to boot the site of the last BCS title game from their cozy and incredibly profitable cartel.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock declared at the time that the BCS “will not be associated with this kind of behavior.”
Unless, of course, there’s money to be made. Then all bets are off.
The Fiesta Bowl was never going anywhere. It’s a cash cow among cash cows, a reliable generator of television ratings, and the favorite January haunt of wealthy alumni everywhere.
Junker, bless his soul, wasn’t above spreading some of that largesse around. He spent $1,200 of bowl money at a strip club, $110,000 on a charity auction for a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus, and $33,000 so he and his buddies could go to Pebble Beach for a 50th birthday blowout.
Politicians got their share, too. The report said Junker used employees to funnel campaign contributions around like they were Tostitos chips, then reimbursed them with bowl money.
The chairman of the Fiesta Bowl told BCS commissioners at their annual meeting last month that he was horrified by it all and was working hard to make sure the bowl’s spending would be curtailed and that all transactions would be transparent. As part of the penalty, the Fiesta Bowl must agree to conduct an annual internal audit and consult with the BCS on the hiring of a new executive director.
That’s pretty much it. The bowl won’t be replaced by the Cotton Bowl. There’s no requirement the new director make less than the $674,000 that Junker was making.
And everyone gets to keep their prized yellow jackets.
Did I mention that nine of the 11 members of the NCAA panel that will decide the bowl’s fate attended a “Fiesta Frolic” in 2008 where rooms, food and golf were all on the Fiesta Bowl tab?
A cozy place, indeed, this world of big-time college football. Trips to be taken, money to be made, a little something for everyone.
The system is rotten, but don’t expect anyone to risk their flashy jackets by suggesting it might be changed.
Next time someone is caught, though, the least they can do is spare us the false outrage.
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