Oh boy. After a nearly month of hearing how college football doesn’t care about its fans seeing the best bowl games, SI.com’s Stewart Mandel breaks a fascinating story that reemphasizes that point. The men behind the B.C.S. curtain — ahem, Mike Slive — shot down an 11th-hour backroom deal to have Virginia Tech and Oklahoma play in the Orange Bowl. The reason? Well, no one is totally sure.
All the bowls agreed to the swap. But the speculation is that if No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Virginia Tech played, it could lead to a split national championship if Oklahoma dominated and L.S.U. earned an ugly victory. That wouldn’t be good for the credibility of the B.C.S.
“I just hope at some point in time we can hear an explanation of why this wasn’t possible given the fact the rules provided that opportunity if it was in everybody’s best interest,” said the Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. “Clear-thinking, well-intentioned minds would like to know whether something like this is possible.”
Another whopper out of West Virginia. This one from Chuck Finder of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, who relays some scathing words from West Virginia boosters angry over how the administration handled Rich Rodriguez’s final hours as coach. Rodriguez reportedly had a few requests for W.V.U. administrators that would have kept him there. They included $100,000 extra for his assistant coaching pool, the hiring of seven graduate assistants and waiving a $5 fee for high school coaches to attend games. Sounds easy, right? Here’s what one booster told Finder:
“I’ve had calls from at least six major contributors to the program, and they’re all done [donating] because they know the Mickey Mouse things that have gone on there.”
Bob Reynolds, the former chief operating officer of Fidelity went on to say, “I’ve been in business 36 years, and it’s the worst business decision I’ve ever seen. I’ve been the COO of a 45,000-person company. When somebody’s producing, you ask, ‘What can I do for you to make your life better?’ Not ‘What can I do to make your life more miserable?’ They have no idea how big this is. It’s frightening.”
In other West Virginia news, there’s buyout drama with Rodriguez’s contract. This Charleston Daily Mail article says that the university will not blink in its demands to get the $4 million from Rodriguez. By resigning effective Jan. 3, the day after the bowl game, “Rodriguez may have created a loophole. W.V.U. plays No. 3 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2. Rodriguez said Monday he doesn’t expect to coach the bowl game because he didn’t want to be a “distraction,” but the obscure date may provide an obstacle for WVU.” Oy.
As for the coaching search, the most popular name out there is Terry Bowden. Yes, that Terry Bowden, who every college football fan is cheering for just for the simple fact that they won’t have to listen to him comment on television anymore. Bowden hasn’t coached since getting fired from Auburn in 1998. Bowden called it his “dream job” yesterday.
There was a lot of speculation in Washington that if Tyrone Willingham was going to stick around, there would have to be staff changes. Well, here they are: Defensive coordinator Kent Baer and special teams coach Bob Simmons (the former Oklahoma State head man) were let go from Willingham’s staff. Here’s the Seattle Times with the details.
Miami had a staff shake-up of its own, as Randy Shannon fired his defensive coordinator, Tim Walton. An interesting note in the Miami Herald article said that Walton recruited all six of the Hurricane recruits from Miami Northwestern, the No. 1 high school team in the country.