Cotton futures are looking better than ever today. At least when we’re talking about the Cotton Bowl’s opportunity to climb into the BCS mix and bring college football’s national championship game to its new home at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
The investigation into improprieties at the Fiesta Bowl, which led to Tuesday’s ouster of Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker, raises lots of questions about whether the Arizona-based game will continue to hold its spot in college football’s elite bowl grouping.
It is telling that BCS officials have announced plans to begin their own investigation to determine “whether the Fiesta Bowl should remain a BCS bowl game.” In a statement, BCS officials raised the possibility of assessing “other appropriate sanctions” to the Arizona-based bowl that hosted the most recent BCS Championship Game in January, when Auburn defeated Oregon, 22-19.
Click here to read the AP account of Junker’s ouster:
But here’s the bottom line about what it means to the Cotton Bowl:
The BCS is one year into its current four-year cycle of games, with existing contracts in place through the games that will be played in January, 2014. But the Fiesta Bowl already has hosted its lone title game in that four-year cycle.
That is a key consideration because it is conceivable that BCS officials, in a fit of indignation, could strip the Fiesta Bowl of its BCS status _ claiming breach of contract, based on the alleged illegalities that took place in Arizona _ and replace it with the Cotton Bowl without taking a BCS title game away from any of the other bowls in the BCS loop (Rose, Sugar, Orange) during this four-year cycle. That makes a quick move easier, if the BCS folks are so inclined, because it would not require bringing a title game to Arlington in this four-year cycle.
A chance to host the BCS championship game once every four years is the golden carrot that drives corporate title sponsors of BCS games, meaning Tostitos – the Fiesta Bowl’s title sponsor – already has received the brunt of its value during the current four-year cycle. Might the title sponsor want to distance itself from the Fiesta Bowl and its unflattering headlines, creating a hiccup within the existing BCS bowl configuration? Possibly.
But such a move would require lots of lawyers and create lots of headaches. It would generate more negative headlines for the BCS, which already is a four-letter entity in the mind of many college football fans. And the Cotton Bowl already has a TV contract with Fox. The BCS bowls are locked in with ESPN.
A more likely scenario, and one that would not require any contract wrangling, would be to simply replace the Fiesta Bowl with the Cotton Bowl – sponsored by AT&T – in the next four-year cycle of BCS bowl contracts. That cycle would cover games played from 2015-2018 and binding decisions regarding those contracts are not expected until 2012, at the earliest.
Expect the Cotton Bowl to be a major player in those talks when they arise. The folks at the Cotton Bowl run a first-class game, have a title sponsor in place and play in the best football stadium on the planet.
It’s a BCS-worthy package, for sure. Now that the Fiesta Bowl has inadvertently opened the door, the Cotton’s future looks bright for BCS inclusion.
_ Jimmy Burch