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NCAA Makes Move to Reign in Bowl Games

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Nah-nah-nah-nah, hey-hey-hey, good-bye?

With the anticipation of the draft last week, one super-big story that seemed lost in the shuffle was the actions that the NCAA finally seems to be taking to reign in control over the bowl games. It was announced that college football's governing body would place a three-year moratorium on new bowl games and would look at revamping the certification process of all bowls. What could have motivated the mouse to roar is anyone's guess, but the best bets for an impetus with them are usually money and congressional oversight.

This issue was moved to the forefront of the agenda after the trouble with the Fiesta Bowl, which is in danger of losing it's status as a BCS bowl after it's president resigned in March. Improper expenses and questionable write-offs were found to have been charged to the bowl foundation, including reimbursement for employees' political campaign contributions. How this bowl (or any other one for that matter) keeps it's 501(3)(c) tax-exempt status is way beyond my finance degree knowledge and understanding. Now that I think about it, anyone else also wonder why Bobby Lowder never tried to grow his own bowl?

That a bowl game is run like a local fiefdom should be no surprise to anyone, but these allegations are serious and could possibly result in criminal charges. I feel that the NCAA is right to examine the Fiesta Bowl, even if there does seem to be a glaring conflict of interest with the fact that some of the NCAA decision makers have been treated to various events by Fiesta Bowl officials. Glendale may be north of the border, but things like this reek of banana republic shenanigans. I suspect just a scare job from the NCAA, with no real consequences.

If it was up to AubTigerman, leaving tumbleweeds blowing through Glendale would be a pretty simple choice, given the spartan hospitality found at the BCS title game back in January. Already, a movement is afoot to replace the Fiesta on the BCS roles with the Cotton Bowl. That is a change I think I could get behind and besides, who's going to bet against Jerry Jones, college football's closest thing to Donald Trump? If the Cotton Bowl did supplant the Fiesta, you'd still have two BCS Bowls east of the Mississippi and two west of it. The only loser in that equation would actually be Mississippi, Ole Miss, who would no longer get the Cotton Bowl bone thrown at them once a decade or so.

But while the Fiesta holds on, perhaps the biggest news to come out of all this is the moratorium on new bowl games for at least three years. What took you so long, NCAA? You got bowl games multiplying like Appalachian share-cropper families the past decade or so and these country cousins are about as radiant. I laid it out at the beginning of the year what you should do to reign in this infestation of johnny-come-lately bowl games so I recommend that link as required reading before they start. Crappy bowl games are diluting our college football product nationally and that's a fact before you even start diving into all the questionable financial practices and patronizing you're likely to find with some.

And what exactly is this bowl re-certification revamping the NCAA is supposed to be doing? Details are scarce, but already, all 35 bowls except for three have been granted certification and had their licenses renewed through the 2013 season. Only the Fiesta, the Insight Bowl (which also is played in Glendale) and the TicketCity Bowl (played in Dallas at JerryWorld) are still pending. They should know their fate within a month.

Why the NCAA is attempting to re-assert some measure of control over one of it's most valuable assets is still a mystery. While they run the post-season in all it's other sports, including lower division football, the NCAA just sets up a few guidelines and then lets the bows run themselves--a $270 million venture that many are starting to view as the wild west. Maybe the want control in an attempt to begin the implementation of a playoff, maybe they just want a cut of the action. If they know what's good for the sport, they'll start to throw some of these dirtbag bowls out on their ears as soon as possible by implementing some minimum standards other than TV contracts. We'll see.