If there’s one surprising theme emerging from the BCS negotiations, it’s that the conference commissioners sound more and more ready to throw the major bowls under the bus. As Pete Thamel puts it,
WHO IS GOING TO LOSE OUT? The bowls. It is just a matter of how much. The B.C.S. bowl games have virtually no shot at hosting a national title game. If they are squeezed out of being involved in the semifinals, they will spiral into irrelevancy.
That’s one helluva sea change. Why is it happening? You only get one guess.
… One of the dirty secrets of many bowl games is that almost nothing is cheap. The industry, in this case represented by Sugar Bowl Inc., long ago learned how to squeeze every last penny out of college football. That includes charging even the stars of the show exorbitant prices for tickets.
How about a couple of free ones for the players to give to their parents or girlfriends or high school coaches? Please. The Sugar Bowl instead charged LSU $350 a seat, full price, for every last player request. Total cost: $254,800 on the players alone.
Oh, and the Tiger Marching Band, the one that is contractually obligated to attend bowl week and provide halftime entertainment? With bowls, not even the band gets in free. LSU had to buy tickets for every clarinetist, flutist, tuba player and majorette. Some of the seats, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, just held the tuba.
That added up to 529 tickets, almost all full price. The bill for the student band to sit was $182,830.
That’s $182,830 to get into a venue and give a free show to all the other paying customers.
All in all, the “2012 BCS Complimentary Tickets” document obtained by Yahoo! Sports detailed most of what would wind up being a $526,924 bill LSU owed the Sugar Bowl just for tickets. [Emphasis added.]
In a debate that’s over money and nothing else, the big bowls look like the guy who killed the goose with the golden eggs. They’re a luxury that the commissioners and athletic directors are no longer convinced they can afford. Or should afford.
“The Fiesta thing, to me, was, ‘Hey, that’s our money,’ ” said one major athletic director. “That’s college football’s money.”
I don’t know if this is the legacy that Thamel refers to when he writes “… the meeting rooms are filled with alpha males who realize their legacies are tied to what will be determined in the next 10 weeks”, but it sure sounds like it may very well be John Junker’s legacy to his bowl peers. And they’ve got nobody to blame for that but themselves.