We at BHGP would like to believe that we're smart men, that naivété would never cloud our judgment on serious matters. We take our jobs seriously, and we hope that you take us seriously as well.
This exposé, then, is more of an apology than anything else; we should have figured this insidious conspiracy sooner. Certainly, while we'd like to believe that college football is a perfectly fair and perfectly managed system, we do know better. Corruption exists. We've accepted that.
But never, never have we seen such a blatant abuse of power and privilege like what's taking place in Tampa.
Allow me to explain.
Back in 2003, Iowa earned their first invitation to the Outback Bowl. The plucky Hawkeyes were matched against the Florida Gators, local heroes. The Gators were heavy favorites, and they were eager for another shot at glory; Michigan had beaten them 38-30 in 2002's Outback.
Iowa, of course, manhandled the Gators; the final score of 37-17 barely reflected the level of humiliation Iowa inflicted upon Florida. Iowa would finish the season in the Top 10, and Florida moved one step closer to firing Ron Zook.
In 2005, with Iowa's fortunes waning, the Outback Bowl decided to bring Iowa back for a rematch with Florida. Once there, the Hawkeyes were repeatedly stricken with poor officiating, much of which impacted the direction of the game. It was no surprise that Florida was up 31-7 in the fourth quarter. It was no surprise that Florida was allowed to have twelve men on the field at the snap. And when Iowa had recovered an onside kick that would have put them in a position to tie the game, it was no surprise that the officials invented a reason to throw the flag and negate the play. Iowa had to lose. Iowa had to pay.
Fast-forward to 2007. The Outback Bowl has 10 teams in the Big Ten with at least six wins, the benchmark for bowl eligibility. Ohio State, of course, is off the table for BCS purposes, but nobody else is. The Outback, without any regard for the process of bowl selections, decided that their Big Ten #3 pick was more important than the Capital One Bowl's #2 pick. Somehow, the conference let this slide.
There was one particularly attractive bowl candidate. One that, while out of the BCS picture (a horribly mismanaged sham of an organization, but you knew that), still prompted one of America's most respected sporting publications to name them #1.
Unfortunately, that team was the Iowa Hawkeyes. And the Outback Bowl board, addicted to tormenting the Hawkeyes like so many crack-addled prostitutes in strained fishnets, pounced on the opportunity to deny the black and gold.
A snub. The ultimate indignity. And for whom? Wisconsin? A team that had to resort to giving Tony Moeaki and Andy Brodell season-ending injuries in order to outscore Iowa? The message is loud and clear from Tampa: The hell with ethics. The hell with integrity.
The hell with Iowa.
We applaud the UI's response, which was to stay home altogether. It's far more civil than what we'd choose, but then again Gary Barta didn't get as far as he's come by unleashing a flurry of expletives during a press conference.
And that is why we will be staying home on January 1. Brothers in solidarity! Gary Barta, you are our Lech Walesa.
The mancott is real, Outback Bowl. It will be until you end the charade. Either publicly announce your fealty to the Florida Gators, or cast them aside as you welcome Iowa to the Outback Bowl. Or continue your pattern of silence and lies. Doing so only guarantees your economic suicide via mancott.