Onward Debates: Bowl Committees are Cowards
When reports starting leaking Sunday afternoon confirming Penn State would be headed to Dallas for the TicketCity Bowl, my initial reaction was one of disgust. How could this 9-3 football team, a team one field goal away for playing for a shot at the Rose Bowl, slide all the way down to the second worst Big Ten bowl?
The Meineke Car Care Bowl took Northwestern, a team with three conference wins and also a team that Penn State beat. The Insight Bowl? Same story. They picked Iowa, a team that Penn State beat, and a team with only seven wins. The Gator Bowl took Ohio State, a team that, you guessed it, lost to Penn State and only managed three conference victories.
I have no understanding as to why everyone is not enraged by this egregious fall. There is no argument to be made that Penn State is not a better football team than the schools I just mentioned. In past years, bowls would line up to pick Penn State for their impeccable tradition and eager to travel fan base. This year, the bowl committees couldn’t run far enough away.
They say the Penn State name is toxic. I say that’s bullshit. Within an hour of TicketCity selecting us, I had my flight booked to Dallas. I know many other people that did the same, and even more who scrambled to find a friend who had a television that carried ESPNU, the station where the game will air. There is no doubt that this game will be one of the most watched in ESPNU history. This snub certainly isn’t about the money.
Some people claim that unless your team plays in a BCS bowl, no one will care in a month who played in what bowl. Even more have made the argument that Penn State got a great match-up with Houston, and it shouldn’t matter what the bowl is called. This is nonsense.
While normally, the difference between the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the TicketCity Bowl wouldn’t matter in the context of the season, this situation is different. The current Penn State team was punished strictly because of a scandal it had nothing to do with. That should be enough to outrage any person who values logic.
I am thrilled for the game itself. Dallas is a great city, and I am terrified to see what Case Keenum is going to do to our soft zone defense. I’ve never been to the Cotton Bowl, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to watch a game. The opponent isn’t the issue — in fact I’d rather play Houston than many of the other Big Ten matchups. It’s the disrespect that bothers me.
It is true, most people will forget about the non-BCS games in a few weeks. However, as a Penn State fan, I will have a difficult time forgetting how cowardly the bowl committees acted. The Big Ten bowl selection people are nothing more than media-puppets, and for that, they should be ashamed.
Perhaps the CEO of the TicketCity Bowl, Tom Starr, said it best. He explained his eagerness to select Penn State in a recent interview with Cory Giger:
“I think the unfortunate situation, Penn State is just a great, great institution. And I think: Why did the abhorrent acts of one person, why does everybody want to drag the university down? What did the student-athletes on that team do? What did the faculty, the student body, the alumni, the fans do? They didn’t do anything. And I never understood that thinking. Why would you punish a team by not letting them go to a bowl game just because of one person’s acts?”
Bravo, Tom Starr. This scandal at Penn State revealed a lot more than just our own shortcomings in Happy Valley. It exposed many influential people in the world of college football as complete cowards.
So I say to representatives from the Gator Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and the Insight Bowl: shame on you. Shame on you for unjustly punishing 125 young men who worked hard to put together a nine-win season. Shame on you for sticking it to one of the biggest fan bases in college sports. Shame on you for being gutless, senseless cowards.
Most importantly, shame on you for having the chance to do the right thing and instead, crumbling under pressure.