Regular season has no bearing on bowl season
Assistant Sports Editor
Somewhere, Knute Rockne is smirking.
And Tostitos executives are celebrating.
Notre Dame on New Year's Day in a primetime slot.
Exactly what the made-for-television/ corporation bowl season hoped for.
These upcoming games show why college football's postseason — except for the national title game — is neither about college nor football.
Only in college football can the fifth- and 10th-ranked teams receive $11-13 million for showing up in sunny Arizona. Only in college football can 6-5 Boston College, with wins over Army (1-10 on the season), Navy (1-10), Connecticut (3-8), Syracuse (6-5), Rutgers (3-8) and Temple (4-7), play in the Jeep Aloha Bowl. Only in college football can teams, with no chance of cracking the national rankings if they win the games, be invited to the postseason.
In fact, 50 of the 114 Division 1-A schools will play in a bowl.
During bowl season, teams are treated like children in a second grade classroom. We recognize the No. 40 team in the country and say, "You may have lost to East Carolina State and Allegheny Community College but you tried really hard. So here's an invitation to the Meijer/Club 23/Papa John's/Spiece Bowl."
In what other sport do teams have these opportunities?
There's no consolation draw in the NFL, NBA and NHL playoffs. Granted, barely .500 squads qualify for the postseason. But they compete with the top teams in pursuit of one goal: a championship.
Sure, college basketball has the NIT but there's no clever public relations department trying to tell the public of its importance. It's clear the NCAA tournament is all that matters.
On Friday afternoon, Davie spoke of the popular notion that No. 6 Virginia Tech — 10-1 on the season — or No. 9 Nebraska — 9-2, including a victory over Notre Dame — deserved a Bowl Championship Series berth instead of the Irish.
"I'm not going to apologize to anyone for us being in the BCS," Davie said. "But I also realize that there are some legitimate arguments out there in the case of Virginia Tech and in the case of Nebraska."
He shouldn't apologize. The BCS rules — agreed upon by all 114 Division 1-A teams — state that if the Irish finish the regular season with nine wins and are among the top 12 in the BCS rankings, they are eligible. As Irish flanker Joey Getherall said on Friday, "College football is a business. Just like anything else is a business."
You don't need an MBA from Harvard to understand why bowl committees salivate when Notre Dame is available. Good television ratings. Guaranteed ticket sales. Alums driving the local economy for a few days.
"It's a reward for what we've been able to do this season," Davie said.
Don't tell Davie it's only a reward.
"This is about winning this game," Davie said. "We've glowed in the glory of going to the Fiesta Bowl. We're ready now to go win this game. We all know what the ramifications are of winning and losing this game."
Davie stated how a victory would "catapult" the Irish and how it would them prepare for next year, when Notre Dame faces Nebraska, Purdue and Texas A&M on the road in September.
If the Irish were playing Miami, Florida State or Florida, then maybe the game would mean something. It would show that the Irish could compete with the nation's truly elite teams. But Notre Dame has already played squads — Nebraska and Purdue — that have similar talent when compared with Oregon State.
Unless Anthony Denman, Joey Getherall, Jim Jones, Mike Gandy, Tony Driver and the rest of the Irish seniors are on the bench, this game is not a "building block" for 2001.
The 14 practices before the game are a building block, however. Arnaz Battle will have some time working at wide receiver. The coaches will instill formations and early game plans for next year. The team will prepare for spring practice.
But the Irish don't need an additional game to prove that they have improved from a year ago.
How backwards is the current system?
Members of the media get free admission, hotel, airfare and food. The corporate sponsors advertise on a national stage. Fans see their team play another game. The universities "earn" a ridiculous amount of money.
And the players?
"We think we should get Play Station 2's or something like that," defensive end Tony Weaver said.
Sorry, Tony. Sony's already sponsoring the Beecsblowz.com Bowl.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, December 12, 2000