I fully intended to write a rant about Boise State being left out of the BCS again. I was going to write that since the BCS added the their 5th bowl (2006/2007 ), Boise State is the only school to be eligible for a BCS bowl, have one or fewer losses, finish the year in the BCS top 10, AND not be chosen for a BCS bowl. I was going to write that this hasn’t just happened once, or twice, but now three times. I was going to write that in the 6 years since that 5th BCS bowl was added, Boise State has finished ranked in the BCS top-10 five times, finished the season undefeated three times and two other seasons with one-loss each. I was going to write that even with such a resume, Boise State has played in just 2 BCS bowls, winning both. I was going to list a plethora of statistics, add some charts, and I had at least a hundred word rant on how the BCS could have three sections in their rules on how “non-AQ’ school can’t make a BCS bowl and couldn’t add a single line on how to keep a 4-loss unranked AQ school from making a mockery of the BCS.
I was all set to write all this great stuff…….. and then a simple question was posed to me…
I’ll get to the question in due time.
3 hours after starting my 10 minutes of research to answer the question, I realized that Boise State was not the story, in-fact what has happened to Boise State isn’t even a class-B misdemeanor in the face of the actual crime.
The first paragraph on the official web site for Sugar Bowl “History” link, reads as follows:
“The Sugar Bowl, born in the depths of the depression, has survived many difficulties, including a World War and a devastating hurricane, and still ranks as one of the most uniquely successful amateur athletic achievements in the history of American sports.”
On January 3rd, 2012 they will need a rewrite this paragraph, I might suggest the following:
"The Sugar Bowl, re-born in the depths of billion dollar TV contracts, has survived greed-driven conference realignments, and now, although no longer unique, one of the 6 highest net-worth games of any kind in the history of amateur AND professional sports."
Why the re-write? I will get to that in due time, first, as with all things that pass, I would like to say a few words about our now departed historical “Classic”.
The very first “Classic” was played between #3 Temple and #13 Tulane in 1936, with the Green Wave pulling out a 20-14 victory. Each school received $27,800, twice as much as their guarantee. There is no doubt that the Classic’s founders had no idea that much the same financial success some 76 years later would lead to them being forgotten for the price of a few room nights.
The very next year #1 LSU lost to #4 TCU, 3-2 (and we thought the current version of LSU could play D). One has to ask though, would this game have been possible under today’s rules? I have this vision of #17 Georgia getting in against LSU by virtue of more “tent“ nights. By 1945, attendance at the Classic had risen to just south of 70,000. The 1945 game also has some historical significance as well, first, Grantland Rice wrote this after the game “The Sugar Bowl classic of 1945 must go down in the book as one of the great thrillers of all time". The second significant event is the reason I have penned this article, but I will get to that in due time. For the record, the game was between #11 Duke and an unranked Alabama (I have to wonder what Mr. Rice would have written about the 2011 Fiesta Bowl). Duke beat the Tide 29-26. It would be another 13 years before an “unranked” team would play in the Classic again.
By the late 1960’s yearly attendance was 80,000 plus. The 1968 game is widely credited (but not confirmed) as the first “they just don’t belong” bowl. As lore would have it, a young scribe by the name of D.B. James, sports writer for the East Side Press News had written several articles leading up to the game stating that even though Wyoming was ranked #6 and was 10-0, they just didn’t have the “body of work” to hold up against unranked LSU. Wyoming lost the game 20-13, they would never play in the classic again. It should be noted that D. B. had a vote in the A.P. poll. Records are sketchy, but most historians agree that D.B. would never vote Wyoming higher than 23rd ever again.
The first Classic to pit 1 vs. 2 was in 1979. 11-0 Penn State took on 10-1 Alabama (Oklahoma State was 7-4 that year and not even considered for an at-large bid). Alabama would win the game and the National Championship. The Classic would host 4 more 1 vs. 2 match-ups over the years. The 1988 Classic became the first and only tie in Sugar bowl history. Pat Dye, coach of the Auburn Tigers went for a game tying field goal with 4 seconds left against undefeated and nation title contender Syracuse. It is the only time in history that a home team kicker was booed out of the stadium for making a kick.
1992 brought us the Bowl Coalition and the birth of the BCS (today, millions wonder why some kind of morning-after pill was not utilized at this point). The Bowl Coalition would morph into the Bowl Alliance in 1995. In 1997 the Sugar bowl became one of the four anchor bowls for the BCS………
Now for the question that was asked of me…..
“has the sugar bowl ever not had a top 10 team since the current BCS system has been in place?
So I went about researching the answer. I found out within a few minutes that the Sugar bowl did indeed have at least one top 10 participant every year since 1998. This is when I decided that I would find out when the last sugar bowl was played without a top-10 participant. It was over the next couple of hours that I realized I had stumbled upon one of the most historic streaks in sports (in my opinion anyway).
I started going back, game by game, stopping from time-to-time to read the game story’s. Year after year , the streak continued, it almost ended in 1991 when #10 Tennessee played unranked Virginia. I made it through the 80’s, the 70’s, the 60’s and 50’s, always a top-10 team in the game….then I hit ..
“The Sugar Bowl classic of 1945 must go down in the book as one of the great thrillers of all time"
65 straight Sugar bowls with at least one top-10 participant…..
46 of those 65 Sugar bowls had both teams enter the game with top-10 rankings.
By the time I was done, I was no longer pissed that they didn’t take my Broncos, but I was livid that they didn’t at least take Kansas State.
65 years of history are now just that, history
And for what…….
A few extra room-nights and some extra ticket sales…………
Goodbye Classic, Hello All-State Sugar Bowl
I want to thank (I think) my blog pal “windex” for posing the question…….