We're bound for the Big Easy. The SBT caught up with Sugar Bowl exec Paul Hoolahan late last night and confirmed it; the only question is who we're going to play, the Tigers or the Gators.
But if the Gators jump Michigan in the BCS standings, then Michigan and USC will square off in the Rose, and Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan confirmed Saturday night that LSU would be ND's Sugar Bowl opponent.Hoolahan, by the way, had some very complimentary things to say about Notre Dame yesterday, and the impact an Irish trip could make on the recovering city:
"The tradition is hard to match," Hoolahan said of what makes ND an attractive option to match against the SEC champ. "And we just need to make a statement in our city. And I think Notre Dame people would do that on so many different levels and help become a part of what's going to be a cog in the whole recovery."So, for the title match: Gators, or Wolverines? The BCS Selection Show is on Fox tonight at 8pm. The Coaches and Harris Polls have usually been coming out earlier in the day on Sundays, but I wouldn't be surprised if they postpone the release until the show tonight. After all, the Fiesta is already set (Oklahoma versus Boise State) and so is the Orange (Wake Forest versus Louisville), so the only real drama left is who will face Ohio State in Glendale.
Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history, forced the Sugar Bowl to relocate in Atlanta last season. The Sugar Bowl is back, and the $175 million it will bring in to New Orleans is only part of the elixir the city seeks. Shining a national spotlight on the protracted relief and rebuilding efforts is also high on the wish list.
"There are other teams that could have done that to a lesser extent," Hoolahan said, "but what New Orleans needs is a well-heeled program to come into their city, spend time, spend money, and be part of the whole recovery. When you can deliver Notre Dame and all the mystique and aura that goes with it, it just brings a new element. And we need a break -- let the rest of the country see we're back in business and operating at good speed."
By any reasonable standard, it should be Florida. Michigan had their shot. And after sleeping on it, I think the polls are going to reflect that same sentiment and send the Gators to Glendale.
The Gators made a compelling, indelible case for themselves yesterday, and as we well know, college football is a game of What Have You Done For Me Lately. All those #2 votes that went to Southern Cal are up for grabs, and it would be foolish to think that just because Michigan held a slim edge over Florida as of yesterday morning that all those #2's are automatically going to transfer to the Wolverines. Furthermore, I can't see the same voters who busted Michigan down to #3 last week, signaling a sharp distaste for a rematch of UM-OSU, suddenly switch gears and endorse that rematch now, especially when there is another attractive option (like a 12-1 SEC champion) on the table.
But stranger things have happened. We'll find out soon enough.