Long still searching, bowls still slithering

By: Wally Hall
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Jeff Long (left) speaks while UA chancellor David Gearhart listens during a UA Board of Trustees meeting in 2012.
Jeff Long (left) speaks while UA chancellor David Gearhart listens during a UA Board of Trustees meeting in 2012.

— While waiting on something to happen in the search for the University of Arkansas’ head football coaching job, and surely it is getting close to the end, some message boards believe it is a done deal with Boise State’s Chris Petersen.

One thing is certain: The search got more interesting and perhaps more difficult when Tennessee and Auburn came open.

Anyway, while waiting, here are some thoughts about the bowls and other things:

Arkansas State got cheated. There is nothing wrong with the Bowl in Mobile, Ala. It is a nice bowl, but at 9-3 with a second consecutive Sun Belt Conference championship in hand, ASU should not be going back to the same bowl two years in a row.

It seems what happened with the Liberty Bowl in Memphis was the bowl officials were very interested in the Red Wolves, but the game’s television rights belong to ESPN for the first time, and it appears the most powerful entity in college sports wanted Tulsa, Conference USA champs, to play a team from a Bowl Championship Series conference.

Thus Iowa State, 6-6 overall and 3-6 in Big 12 play, got the bid. Arkansas State is riding a seven-game winning streak; Iowa State is 2-5 in its past seven games.

It will not be surprising if an announcement comes soon that ASU will leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA.

It is sad to see what is happening in the Sun Belt, after such a great season during which four teams ended up in bowl games.

Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic announced last week they would be leaving to join Conference USA.

It is all about the TV package and revenue, and the Sun Belt is not doing a good job of negotiating TV rights with ESPN, again the most powerful sports entity in the world.

What was Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde thinking when he asked Independence Bowl officials for more time when they offered the Bulldogs an invite to their bowl to play Louisiana-Monroe.

Van De Velde has said it wasn’t because he didn’t want to play Louisiana-Monroe, which is a 30-minute drive down Interstate 20, but that he was waiting to see what happened with other bowls.

That’s kind of like a pretty, nice girl asking you to the prom and you ask her if she can give you a couple of days to see if someone prettier asks you.

The Independence Bowl didn’t wait and invited Ohio, which said yes, thank you.

Tech, 9-3, was one of the hottest names in college football at one time this season and finished with the No. 1 offense in the country.

It doesn’t sound like Van De Velde was giving his players much thought during the process. They deserve a bowl whether he does or not.

Of the 70 teams playing in bowl games, 11 are 6-6 on the season, and 15 won 7 games.

And Georgia Tech had to get a NCAA waiver at 6-7 (teams are supposed to be .500 overall) to play in the Sun Bowl, where it will face Southern Cal.

USC opened the season as No. 1 in the nation and was favored to go to the BCS Championship Game, some speculated to face Arkansas.

Instead the Trojans finished 7-5. It will be their first bowl game since sitting out a two year bowl ban for improper benefits for Reggie Bush.

Sports, Pages 17 on 12/04/2012