There will be a Fiesta Bowl and it will be in Tempe, Ariz. Whether it can find two teams willing to play there remains to be seen.
Rumors circulated Sunday night that, having lost Virginia to the Sugar Bowl as a result of last week's negative Arizona vote on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday referendum, the Fiesta was trying to lure 20th-ranked Louisville away from the All American Bowl.In addition, the Fiesta was attempting to work out a deal for a Southeastern Conference team other than the champion - probably next week's winner between No. 14 Tennessee and No. 15 Mississippi - which will play Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.
An SEC source said the league's four bowl teams - Tennessee, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama - were trying to reach a unanimous agreement whether to accept or reject a Fiesta Bowl invitation.
And one bowl representative close to the SEC told The Associated Press: "Whoever goes in there (Arizona) has got trouble, trouble, trouble."
Efforts to reach Louisville sources proved futile. The school would realize at least $2.5 million from the Fiesta Bowl as opposed to under $1 million from the All American Bowl.
If the Fiesta Bowl was on the hot seat, the Orange Bowl was sitting pretty with a rematch of last year's Notre Dame-Colorado game. It could turn into a 1-2 showdown since Notre Dame beat Tennessee 34-29 to preserve its No. 1 ranking and Colorado jumped from fourth to second after beating Oklahoma State 41-22.
"There are some big hurdles remaining for our team," Notre Dame athletic director Dick Rosenthal said, meaning upcoming games against No. 18 Penn State and No. 19 Southern Cal. "But this does set up the possibility of having the No. 1 and 2 teams meet on Jan. 1."
Colorado can win the Big Eight title outright by tying or beating Kansas State on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Rose Bowl-bound Washington, last week's No. 2, lost to UCLA 25-22 with 10 seconds left. And No. 6 Iowa remained the Big Ten front-runner despite a last-second 27-26 loss to Ohio State.
While the Rose Bowl matchup wilted, the Cotton Bowl's bloomed when No. 3 Miami agreed to play the Southwest Conference champion, probably No. 7 Texas, which knocked off previously unbeaten Houston 45-24. The Cougars had been ranked third.
The new rankings give Miami a shot at becoming the first team to win the national championship with two losses. The Hurricanes can also become the first team to finish first or second in The Associated Press rankings five years in a row.
The Fiesta Bowl, which had national championship games in two of the last four years, didn't have a problem until last Tuesday when Arizona voters rejected a proposal to make King's birthday a state holiday.
Ironically, the referendum passed in the counties where Phoenix and Tempe (Maricopa) and Tucson (Pima), site of the 2-year-old Copper Bowl, are located and where King's birthday already is a paid holiday for city employees.
A Virginia-Penn State game fell through when Penn State opted for the fledgling Blockbuster Bowl against No. 9 Florida State and Virginia switched to the Sugar Bowl, which pays $700,000 more than the Fiesta and is closer to home.
The Fiesta lined up San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium as an alternate site, but the NCAA said Sunday it could not move to a city that hosts another bowl game. The Holiday Bowl is played in San Diego.
During a marathon Sunday session, Fiesta Bowl president Larry Gunning announced that the game would remain at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb.
Brent DeRaad, a bowl spokesman, said: "We're committed to doing everything we can to keeping the bowl in Arizona. We've got sponsors to deal with locally, we have more than 50,000 tickets sold locally and the bottom line is that we're looking past this year as well. Even if we would put together the national championship game, we need to stay where we are and play the game in Arizona."
The Fiesta Bowl committee adjourned late Sunday, apparently without lining up its teams. If it doesn't attract Louisville or an SEC team, it will be hard-pressed to find two teams with bowl-worthy records.
Meanwhile, players on the California team have decided to wear an emblem in the Copper Bowl to honor King.
"It was not a vote in terms of counting heads," assistant sports information director Ron Juanso said. "It was simply a discussion. They want to do something to pay tribute to Dr. King."
With the official invitation date (Nov. 24) still almost two weeks away, most of the bowl pairings are set. Always subject to change, it looks like this, including the latest rankings:
Orange, No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Colorado; Cotton, No. 3 Miami vs. No. 7 Texas; Citrus, No. 4 Georgia Tech vs. No. 11 Nebraska; Holiday, No. 5 Brigham Young vs. Texas A&M; Sugar, No. 8 Virginia vs. No. 14 Tennessee or No. 15 Mississippi; Blockbuster, No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 18 Penn State; Rose, No. 10 Washington vs. No. 13 Iowa; Gator, No. 16 Michigan-No. 21 Ohio State winner vs. No. 24 Auburn; Hall of Fame, No. 17 Clemson vs. No. 22 Illinois;
Gator, Auburn vs. Ohio State; John Hancock, No. 19 Southern Cal vs. No. 23 Michigan State; All American, No. 20 Louisville vs. North Carolina State; Independence, No. 25 Southern Mississippi vs. Baylor; Freedom, Oregon vs. Colorado State; Peach, Indiana vs. Tennessee-Mississippi loser; Copper, Wyoming vs. California; Liberty, Michigan-Ohio State loser vs. Air Force (if it beats Texas-El Paso); Aloha, Arizona vs. Syracuse; Raisin, Central Michigan vs. Fresno State-San Jose State winner.
In other games involving ranked teams of last week, it was Georgia Tech 6, Virginia Tech 3; BYU 45, Wyoming 14; Florida 38, Georgia 7; Virginia 24, North Carolina 10; Florida State 70, Cincinnati 21; Nebraska 41, Kansas 9; Southern Mississippi 13, Auburn 12; Michigan 22, Illinois 17; California 28, Oregon 3; Penn State 24, Maryland 10; Louisville 17, Boston College 10; Southern Cal 56, Oregon State 7; and Michigan State 28, Minnesota 16.