Bowled over by meaningless NCAA bowl matchups

Dec 11, 2012 3:00 AM

As we turn the corner into football bowl games, its future is concerning. 

The plethora of postseason games is exploding and mimicking the NHL for a meaningless potpourri of questionable competition. Surely bowls are a gift to degenerate gamblers and TV addicts, but do we really need a Beef O’Brady or Famous Idaho Potato? Can you name the last three winners of the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl? The Gildan New Mexico Bowl?

For those communities fighting their way through soft economies, slowing corporate sponsorships, aging volunteers, and lethargic ticket sales there seems to be a concerted effort to expand. But how many last? The Copper Bowl? The Carquest Bowl? The Poulan Weedeater Bowl?

Consider too that four major Division I programs were axed from bowl participation: Ohio State, Cinderella Penn State, the entertaining North Carolina Tar Heels and Miami of Florida. Will all these top level NCAA sanctions serve as reminders to every program that any hint of mischief will result in major punishment?

Hence teams with six wins get in. What message does that send? Apparently, mediocrity a la NHL is to be rewarded. As with all things Jerry McGuire: Follow the money.

Here’s a quick review of Florida’s NCAA football teams and how they fared vs. expectations:

The Seminoles quickly fell out of contention for the BCS championship and added to the L column with a flat outing against Florida. Good team. Good coach. Too inconsistent for its own good. Probably a repeat in 2013.

The Gators, with lower initial expectations saw the talent and coach rise to the occasion, winning a bunch coming from behind. Improved, UF jetted back to a top contender in the SEC. Youthful and loaded for next year they need the QB to improve.

The Hurricanes are still reloading. The coach has turned around the team chemistry, but has yet to win any really big ones. Nevertheless winning the Coastal Division of the ACC Conference is an accomplishment. Depending upon the enormity of upcoming NCAA sanctions the program is again becoming relevant.

At Florida International, the Golden Panthers just had a horrible year. Very unexpected. Apparently T.Y. Hilton’s contribution to the offense last year was way undervalued. Early expectations of winning the conference and being nationally rated got blasted to smithereens.

Florida Atlantic continues to struggle but became competitive and feisty as the season rolled on. This bodes well for 2013. The new stadium is a huge plus for recruiting in Boca Raton.

Central Florida’s losses to Tulsa, Ohio State and Mizzou were disappointing vs. good wins in the Conference USA. Coach George O’Leary has a strong 2013 squad returning. The program is healthy and possibly a candidate to move up to a stronger conference.

South Florida finished at the bottom of the Big East and showed little sign of improvement. The Bulls are smack dab in the heart of a big media market (Tampa) with lots of eyeballs that might appeal to the ACC…now minus Maryland.

Summary: Florida is still football country. Big Time. The talent from Pensacola to Key West rivals Texas and California. Between FSU, UF, and The U there should be a national title game appearance in the near future.

Odds ’n ends

Given the Florida Marlins penchant for no no-trade clauses in contracts, it’s a wonder any big time agents with big time clients would ever consider the franchise. Mark Buehrle, part of the exodus to Toronto, remains outspoken and claims he was lied to by Marlins management that reportedly assured and reassured him he would not be traded.

Buehrle’s team of accountants is now trying to figure out the ramifications of going to Canada, being a USA citizen and playing in 20-plus cities annually (many multiple times): all of whom will collect taxes from the lefty ace. With no state income tax, Florida has long beckoned top earners – ones, that is, with no trade clauses.

Among the missing in the Gulfstream Park jockey colony is one Ramon Dominguez, 36, the top jock money earner in the nation for 2012. The new (Genting) slots at Aqueduct have rocketed up the purses there substantially – enough to keep Ramon in New York City in spite of the blizzards and chill. He won three stakes races on Nov. 24.

Miami native and international tennis legend, Gardner Mulloy turned 99. Credited with making South Florida a tennis haven, he is the oldest living member of the Tennis Hall of Fame…a graduate of The U and holder of 129 national tennis titles.

TSFKAJR (aka Dolphins Stadium) hosts the BCS championship this year as well as the Orange Bowl. The Golden Domers from South Bend will be featured in the Big Game bringing their legions of long suffering fans to South Florida. The Fighting Irish and their faithful will celebrate in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for a week – spending freely, buying up all the left over tickets and generally annoying all the local The U, FSU and UF faithful.

A recent front page poll released by the Miami Herald of 400 major league baseball fans, 90% of whom self proclaimed as Marlins supporters, found 87% “furious and betrayed” by team ownership, 83% having an unfavorable opinion of owner Jeffrey Loria. 

Also, 61% who claimed to be season ticket holders would support a boycott next season if that would coerce Loria to sell the team, 95% found the trades to be fire sale and 4% thought it was an attempt to make the team better. Finally, 89% felt Loria had a moral obligation to field a good team because taxpayers mainly funded the Marlins’ new $515 million stadium.

Looking ahead: From our Tucson office we’ll be reporting on results from the recent University Of Arizona’s 39th Symposium on Racing and Gaming. The annual event at Tucson’s 4-star Westin La Paloma Resort featured forums, seminars, lectures and networking sessions. 

Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].

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