It might be 1984 revisited.
The Sea World Holiday Bowl, having bypassed a chance to get the University of Southern California as the opponent for the Western Athletic Conference champion (likely to be the winner of Saturday's BYU-Wyoming game), is now scrambling to come up with its at-large team.And, in conversations with various sources at the Holiday Bowl and in the media, bowl committeemen are divided as to whether to seek a commitment now or wait and take their chances to see if a marquee team falls through the cracks.
The worst case scenario is this: An 11-1 No. 4 or 5-ranked BYU against a 6-4-1 Ohio State, a 6-4-1 Indiana or a 6-5 Minnesota.
The best case scenario is this: An 11-1 No. 4 or 5-ranked BYU against an 8-3 Illinois or an 8-3-1 Texas A&M.
In 1984 the Holiday Bowl had the No. 1 team in the nation, BYU, but was unable to get a ranked team to face the Cougars, settling for 6-5 Michigan. The big name teams opted for higher-paying bowls and when the Holiday Bowl balked at middle level teams like Tennessee and Maryland, they went elsewhere, the result being the Holiday Bowl was almost the last bowl to secure a team.
Bowl bids are not supposed to be extended until after the games on Nov. 24, but oral agreements are made well in advance of that date.
The wire services are already reporting that the Pac-10 Conference has entered into a blockbuster agreement involving its top four available teams - Washington, of course is going to the Rose Bowl. USC is reportedly committed to the John Hancock Bowl, Oregon to the Freedom Bowl, Arizona to the Aloha Bowl and California to the Copper Bowl.
USC and Arizona had both been scouted by the Holiday Bowl. The Deseret News has learned that the Holiday Bowl selection committee was divided on which team to go after, the feeling apparently being that while the Trojans are a solid football name, their fans would just drive down to the game and back without helping out the San Diego economy by staying in motels.
It has also been learned that the Pac-10 contacted the Holiday Bowl about getting the first pick of available conference teams after the various New Year's Day bowls backed off of USC following the Trojans' tie with California Saturday.
Again, some Holiday Bowl committee members wanted to commit and others didn't. When the commitment wasn't forthcoming, the Pac-10 and USC went elsewhere.
That also knocked out what was believed to have been the Holiday Bowl's No. 1 choice - Michigan State. When the Spartans learned they could meet USC in the John Hancock Bowl in El Paso on New Year's Eve, they committed to it, even though that bowl at approximately a $1 million payout per team, pays less than the Holiday Bowl ($1.2 million).
Excerpts from the following wire service reports show how blatantly bowls and schools disregard the official bidding procedure:
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Southern California and Michigan State have reached an oral agreement with the organizers of the Hancock Bowl to play in the New Year's Eve game, a bowl official said Monday.
Bowl invitations cannot be officially extended until Nov. 24, but John Folmer, chairman of the game's team selection committee, said the committee is not scouting any other teams.
"What we're saying is, `Hey you're coming and we're going to follow you,' and they're saying, `Hey, we're coming to your place and when you extend an official invitation we're going to take it,"' Folmer said.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Not the meek sort, Michigan State coach George Perles is being open about his hope to go to the John Hancock Bowl on New Year's Eve.
"They're our first choice," Perles said Monday at his weekly news conference.
"We want to be noted at Michigan State University that we make decisions. We operate under a lot of philosophies like a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
"If we win this one we get closer to the pot of gold. If we have a chance to go to El Paso that's where we'll go. If we continue to win and they ask us officially, we would be very interested."PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Ducks will play in the Freedom Bowl Dec. 29 in Anaheim, Calif., probably against the No. 2 team from the Western Athletic Conference, currently Colorado State, The Oregonian reported.
Oregon, 7-2, and ranked 20th in the country, was offered an unofficial invitation Monday afternoon by the Freedom Bowl selection committee, the newspaper reported.
In a written release, Freedom Bowl executive director Don Andersen said, "It is our intention to invite the University of Oregon to play in the 1990 game on the first date to formally invite teams, and that date is Nov. 24."
Oregon Athletic Director Bill Byrne, whose preference had been the Freedom Bowl, said Monday the Ducks would accept the invitation.The events of the last 24 hours have rocked the Holiday Bowl. Usually, on Monday it's decided what games the committee members will scout on Saturday but with the news of the Pac-10 deals and Michigan State's deal with the Hancock Bowl, no decisions had been made as to what games to scout as of Monday night.
One person who did agree to speak for attribution was Richard Circuit, a member of the Holiday Bowl board of directors. He was not at all pleased by the Pac-10's action.
"Number one, it's not legal to make deals," he said. He also stated that by doing so at such an early stage, USC and Arizona may have forfeited the opportunity to go to much larger bowls. The Trojans, he said, should be 8-2-1 going into the Notre Dame game on Nov. 24 and if they defeat the Irish in the L.A. Coliseum then they will probably climb back into the Top 10.
Circuit also said that more bowls moving to New Year's Day (there are now eight) has hurt the Holiday Bowl's chances of getting Top 20 teams to face the WAC champion.
Plus, having teams like Houston (No. 3 in AP), Florida (No. 10 in AP) and Oklahoma on probation further dilutes the number of quality teams available, he said.
One official said that BYU has only itself to blame if it winds up 11-1 and faces a 6-4-1 Indiana. "They should have been prepared and defeated Oregon. Then arrangements would be being made for them to face Notre Dame."