Sugar Bowl dealt predictably losing hand to the Warriors
The Rose and Sugar bowls ended in routs by USC and Georgia of Illinois and Hawaii.
The nightmarish conclusion of the University of Hawaii Warriors' dream season should not discourage outsiders to the six football conferences that control the major bowls about the prospect of future invitations. It instead should result in a review of the way teams are paired off for bowls to avoid the sort of mismatches that occurred at Tuesday's Sugar and Rose bowls.
As the Sugar Bowl between Hawaii and Georgia approached, New York Times sportswriter Pete Thamel, who spent the week reporting pre-game activities in New Orleans, called it "perhaps the most anticipated game of the bowl season." As it was nearing the end, Thamel accurately labeled it "a gigantic dud."
The mighty Georgians were miffed that they had been passed over in the selection of Louisiana State to face Ohio State in next Monday's national championship game, and they set out to prove their prowess. In the opening minutes of the Sugar Bowl, they had solidly made their point.
Ideally, major college football seasons should be capped with a four-week playoff series, involving the 16 top teams instead of the 64 chosen for the NCAA basketball's March Madness. The major football conferences are not likely to forsake their monopoly, but -- at the very least -- pairings in the present system should be made on the basis of competitive matches.
Prior to last year's Fiesta Bowl, the BCS ranked Boise State eighth and Oklahoma 10th -- a good match ending in a thrilling victory by Boise State. Hawaii's ranking of 10th by the Bowl Championship Series this year was suspect because of the Warriors' weak schedule in the regular season. (That will toughen next season, when Hawaii plays at Florida and at home against Oregon State and Washington State.)
UH gained automatic entry to a BCS bowl by finishing in the top 12 in the rankings. Georgia, finishing the regular season as the hottest team in college football with six consecutive victories, was ranked fifth by the BCS and fourth in all the other rankings.
As the Sugar Bowl began, No. 7 Southern Cal was putting the finishing touches on a 49-17 slaughter of No. 13 Illinois in the Rose Bowl. The tradition of pitting the Pac-10 against the Big 10 had won out over possibly matching Illinois against Hawaii in Pasadena, with Georgia and USC facing each other in New Orleans, or vice versa.
Thamel wrote that it "would be nice to see" Georgia vs. USC in the Rose Bowl, No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, No. 6 Missouri vs. No. 9 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl and Hawaii vs. No. 11 Arizona State in the Sugar Bowl.
"Instead, the BCS has yet again managed to deliver a watered-down, unwatchable product," Thamel wrote. "And it's the fans that suffer."