A day later, and many are still trying to determine the hows and whys regarding the Sugar Bowl match-up between Michigan and Virginia Tech. ESPN's Doug Gottleib threw out a chart (among several from other sources) showing the glaring on-field advantage Kansas State held over both teams.
NBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell followed on Twitter saying he told Gottlieb "that I can't come up w/a financial reason for the Sugar Bowl taking VaTech over KSU." Rovell is good enough (and separated enough from the situation) that if there was a legitimate reason, he would know.
If you've followed my Twitter account and/or blog the past day or so, you know I've cussed and discussed ad nauseum the BCS system - analyzing the people involved, the votes they cast and their backgrounds, which showed just how sickly the whole process is (but I digress...); all while trying to make some sense at how Kansas State was left out of the Sugar Bowl specifically, since that was the bowl that nearly every projection forecast as late as mid-morning on Sunday.
So, in that spirit, I took at look at the Sugar Bowl teleconference transcript from last night, just to see if either head coach from undeserving Michigan or even less-so Virginia Tech had anything to say about their selections.
Found a bit more than I was looking for.
While Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke wasn't pressed on his team's selection, Va. Tech's Frank Beamer was, and two answers stood out, including his response to a question regarding a donation made to Virginia Tech after the school massacre - from the Sugar Bowl.
"Could you also talk about the relationship between the Sugar Bowl and Virginia Tech," the reporter asked, "particularly the donation they made after the shooting a few years ago?"
"Yeah, you know, it was, like I said in the opening, the people there in the Sugar Bowl, we've had quite a bit of experiences with them and they're just first class," Beamer said. "They do things right. It's just always been a great experience when we've been able to come to that Bowl and spend a week in the city there and just first‑class in every way."
|Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said Va. Tech's|
history played a significant part in this year's pick.
The donation in question was a substantial $250,000, given to the university to be used for student counseling following the school massacre on April 16, 2007. While that, and other generous amounts have been given by the Sugar Bowl to causes such as $800,000 toward Hurricane Katrina, $115,000 to the New Orleans Police Department and $130,000 to the SEC's postgraduate scholarship program, according to the Sugar Bowl (and I will never argue against those types of causes except, perhaps, a conference's postgraduate program unless the Bowl provides for all conferences in similar fashion), it begs the question of whether being a part of something as specific as an individual school's cause, no matter the level, is something that should happen because of potential situations like this year's BCS fallout.
While noble, how can that relationship be explained to any more-deserving team that sees a windfall payday, sometimes up to two- or three-fold, upward of $10 million or more, cut out from under them.
Flatly, it can not.
Later, Beamer was asked, "Of course, there's criticism that teams that maybe were higher ranked in the BCS and some of the rankings, Boise and Kansas State, that you guys were picked over them, both you and Michigan. What response to that, teams that at least in the rankings had a better season getting passed over?"
"Well, I think Virginia Tech over the years has built a name for itself," Beamer said. "And we have a chance to win 12 games this year and it's never been done at Virginia Tech. And, in reality, we lost to one team this year. We lost to them twice, but we've been on national TV several times here in recent weeks. And we'd won seven straight until last night, and we got the Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We've been to three BCS Bowls over the last four years.
"I think there's a lot of reasons. We've got on our team this year the top two receivers ever in Virginia Tech's history. We've got an All‑American in Jayron Hosley. And I think there's a lot of reasons why Virginia Tech would be an attractive team to a BCS Bowl. I think the number of years we've won ten straight games, I think that's another thing. And the only team to do that. So I think again over the years I think the Virginia Tech name has gotten to be a very good name."
Being on national TV, having a conference player of the year candidate, some of the best players in school history and other seasons' success? Those are reasons to be picked this season over higher-ranked teams?
Apparently so if you're the Sugar Bowl.