By virtue of the nation’s best football coach, we are automatically a big story for a bowl.
Dec. 7, 2003
By Rob Wilson
Let me begin by saying it is absolutely essential that Florida State has another good showing in terms of attendance at this year’s bowl game. In fact, some would suggest that it is essential that we maintain our outstanding support this year because of the changes within the ACC and most other conferences. The fact is that despite the involvement of computers, formulas, alliances, series, partners and everything else we have going into the bowl selection process, the primary concern for the folks who run the games is still selling tickets. Consequently, the teams that have great fan turnouts get the longest and best look by the bowls. There is nothing wrong with that from the bowl’s perspective and this week provides evidence of that process.
Rumors have flown in the press and around the water coolers that the Orange Bowl may be looking at Tennessee as a team to play either Big East Champs Miami or ACC Champs Florida State. To select the Volunteers, a bowl would be overlooking a team, in this case Ohio State or perhaps the LSU/Georgia loser, that is ranked ahead of them in the BCS rankings. Why? The answer is ticket sales and economic impact. Tennessee fans have a reputation for traveling well and spending freely in the host city. Thus, UT is getting a good long look by all the BCS bowl.
The truth is the BCS bowls (that’s the Fiesta, Rose and Sugar if you’ve been under a rock for the last six years) still have a lot of wiggle room, which was cleverly – and properly – introduced into the system. A fact that is seldom mentioned is that at the end of the selections by the BCS bowls – the commissioner’s of the BCS conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10 and SEC) can turn it down if the arrangements don’t suit them. This has particular bearing when one considers rematches of regular season games or previous bowl games.
Texas and LSU played in last year’s Cotton Bowl and there is a scenario out there that has the two meeting in the Fiesta Bowl. At the end of the day, the conference commissioners may have a real problem with that. To bring it closer to home, there is a model that has FSU rematched with Miami in this year’s Orange Bowl. If that’s what the BCS boys finish up with, it lands on the commissioner’s collective table to approve. Some would suggest that with the first-ever intra-conference showdown between Miami and FSU just over 7 months away, it would be unreasonable to have them play again.
Back to ticket sales. Tennessee would, by virtue of a huge fan following, really turn it in to the ORANGE Bowl. The SEC office is lobbying hard to get a second team in a BCS bowl and the Big 10 is lobbying just as hard to make Ohio State a second conference team involved in one of the big three. They can make the push because there schools have backed up bowl bids with tickets sold and have earned their place at the bargaining table. The prestige of the ACC Championship will certainly shine even brighter next year with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech, which also puts our league in the position to be lobbying to have that second team in the mix.
My point is that Florida State fans must make sure that we keep the Seminoles in contention during the years that we are riding the very same bubble that Ohio State, Georgia/LSU, Tennessee, and the rest are right now. Again, the math is pretty simple. Bring a lot of fans and play exciting football and we will always have those multi-colored bowl sport coats moving through Tallahassee.
We should all be very proud of the position in which we find ourselves. By virtue of the nation’s best football coach, we are automatically a big story for a bowl. Our football team has played some of the most exciting football of the year, on national television, right here at the end of the season and that doesn’t hurt. TV ratings for FSU games are generally off the charts and we do have a good history of traveling to bowl games. But we must be diligent in keeping that up. We have seen how quickly our birthright in major bowls can change and the best way to insure our attractiveness to the big boys is to fill the stands.
So let’s all pack our bags and head out west, er, to the coast, er, down to Miami…Let’s just hope we see each other in a glamorous city in early January.