comscore BCS' successful strong-arm tactics show just how much power it wields
Ferd's Words

BCS’ successful strong-arm tactics show just how much power it wields

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Today we offer reason No. 4,648 … and counting why the Bowl Championship Series should be broken up.

You know the BCS’ bowl partners have way too much power or an incredible amount of arrogance — and probably huge helpings of both — when one of them feels it can "lobby" to get a school’s penalties postponed for eight months.

Take the case of Ohio State, which is what the Sugar Bowl boldly did, in demanding the delay of imposition of sanctions that would have kept six players from appearing in the Buckeyes’ Jan. 4 game against Arkansas.

The six who sold memorabilia and/or accepted discounts on tattoos included quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes’ leading rusher, Dan Herron, All-Big Ten offensive tackle Mike Adams and No. 2 wide receiver DeVier Posey. All were to be suspended for five games when penalties were announced Dec. 7th.

In short, the Buckeyes would have been in deep gumbo in New Orleans next week without them and the Sugar Bowl would have had severe credibility issues, not to mention sales and ratings problems.

So Sugar Bowl chief executive Paul Hoolahan unabashedly and, he told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, unapologetically went about pressuring OSU, the Big Ten and anybody else who would listen to defer the penalties until next fall.

Never mind that some of the players could turn pro before then, the Sugar Bowl is a BCS bowl and wasn’t about to let no stinkin’ NCAA rules violations mess with its game.

Not, apparently, after the indignities the once proud game has suffered recently.

The Dispatch reported, "Hoolahan said preserving the matchup between No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Arkansas was very important to the Sugar Bowl, which has seen some poor games in recent years: Georgia crushing Hawaii 41-10 in 2008, Utah upsetting Alabama 31-17 in 2009 and Florida thrashing Cincinnati 51-24 last season."

Call the cry for sympathy a new version of the "Hawaii Exemption" but the Sugar Bowl CEO can be a very persuasive man, as then-UH athletic director Herman Frazier learned in the Warriors’ ticket fiasco three years ago.

How much Hoolahan’s caterwauling and appendage twisting did to win the delay of penalties for Ohio State might never be fully known. But the perception that he could have had any influence at all is disturbing. So, too, is the fact that the Sugar Bowl felt free to throw some weight around where it did not belong.

The NCAA, in a posting on its website, denied playing favorites or being swayed by bowl money.

It didn’t address being intimidated. But it isn’t hard to imagine the NCAA threatened by the BCS and the six power conferences that comprise its automatic qualifying members.

If upset, the BCS schools can take their ball and go form their own association. They already have their football "championship" and, should they choose to pull out from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the big money would go with them as the NCAA disappeared down the drain.

Theoretically the NCAA sets the rules when it comes to player eligibility and the bowls. The reality, as we are seeing, is the BCS is stronger than the NCAA cares to admit.

Reach Ferd Lewis at


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