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Fiesta Bowl Retains BCS Status

That sound you hear is Jerry Jones crying. A mere five weeks removed from the zenith of the John Junker scandal, the BCS Oversight Committee chose today to effectively look the other way on all of various improprieties that were committed under his leadership. Per the New York Times:

The Fiesta Bowl can remain in the Bowl Championship Series but must pay a $1 million fine, a B.C.S. oversight committee announced Wednesday.

In addition to the $1 million fine, which the committee said would benefit "youth in Arizona," the Fiesta Bowl must make a series of changes, including tougher audits and tighter membership controls of the board. The committee, which is made up of university presidents and conference commissioners, also recommended that all B.C.S. bowls — including the Sugar, the Orange and the Rose Bowls — conform to a new set of governance standards, which have yet to be developed. The bowls would also have to report each year to the executive director of the B.C.S., ensuring that they follow the standards or face sanctions.

The Old Grey Lady does not expressly say that the proverbial wrist of the Fiesta Bowl is slighting stinging after this little love slap, but I think that is what we are all left to assume. A one million dollar fine in this case is laughable just because of the relatively paltry amount of money that it represents, but the Oversight Committee took the absurdity one step further by directing the money go to charity, which -- while a nice gesture for obvious reasons -- is exactly the why the Fiesta Bowl raises money in the first place. In other words, the Oversight Committee "punished" the Fiesta Bowl by requiring them to do precisely what they are supposed to be doing anyway. Go figure.

The absurdity of the "punishment" notwithstanding, though, this does bring up a very interesting point regarding the malleability of the BCS. The BCS Oversight Committee had until 2015 to find a replacement bowl game, and the BCS Championship Game was also four years away from returning to Glendale. While breaking ties would have never been easy, this likely represented the easiest opportunity for the BCS to do so, but nevertheless the Oversight Committee chose to pass.

The improprieties that took place under Junker were quite serious in nature and were not merely minor wrongs committed inadvertently in the regular course of business. To the contrary, they involved very serious allegations that were committed willfully and intentionally, but in the end it warranted no more than a slap on the wrist. Moving forward, I think the takeaway point here is that while some considerations may change the BCS lineup over the course of time -- demographics, quality of facilities, ticket sales, etc. -- mere ethical wrongs and scandals alone will not be enough to strip a bowl game of its BCS status.