published Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Wiedmer: May Frisco become Fiasco after NCAA's title-game decision

Regarding Chattanooga's failed attempt to hold onto the Football Championship Subdivision title game, at least we now know what NCAA stands for -- No Chance After All.

We say this because there reportedly was not a single question asked of our point team following its presentation to the NCAA's FCS selection committee Thursday. Not one. Nada. Zip.

Which means this whole process was about as up in the air as a torpedo. Then again, losing the title game after 13 years feels like we were torpedoed, undercut, chop-blocked, or any other phrase you'd like to apply to mistreated and misled.

For 13 years we nurtured this baby into young adulthood, repeatedly told that the long-range goal of the NCAA was to turn Finley Stadium into Rosenblatt Stadium, the 61-year-long home of the baseball College World Series.

To help that along, we invested in artificial turf and put up permanent plaques commemorating every championship game played here, not to mention twisting the arms of at least half the gainfully employed people living in the seven states seen from Lookout Mountain to buy tickets each year as some sort of civic duty.

And for what? To have it yanked out from under us in favor of Frisco, Texas, whose Web site lists as its biggest claims to fame the presence of an IKEA department store and the Museum of the American Railroad.

I guess we should have done more to play up Hamilton Place and the International Towing and Recovery Museum.

Maybe next time.

Not that there will be a next time. The SEC women's basketball tournament has never returned here. Neither has Spring Fling. We've lost the TSSAA state wrestling tournament. Before long we will find out the bocce tournaments at Bluffview have moved to Dollywood.

This doesn't mean we have to be done with postseason football at Finley. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs not only appear fully capable of challenging for a FCS playoff berth, but they now are eligible to compete after a brief stay in APR prison.

Beyond that, if we suddenly go into a mid-December bout of FLU (Football Left Us), perhaps Volkswagen suddenly could go into the bowl business. We could petition the NCAA to grant us a Football Bowl Subdivision game between any two BCS schools with non-losing records who haven't been invited anywhere else. No FBS conference is off limits.

It would be played on the first available Saturday afternoon following the SEC title game weekend. VW could call it the Volkswagen Bowl, VW Bowl or, my personal favorite, the Beetle Bowl.

Everyone purchasing a ticket would be in the running for a free Beetle. The competing teams could have a MoonPie or Krystal eating contest. The NCAA might be tired of Aquarium tours, but it would probably be a big hit with a bunch of kids who never go bowling.

Sure, Finley doesn't hold much more than 20,000, but that's the beauty of it. If the competing teams buy up most of those tickets, we won't have to go. We can get back to Christmas shopping, Christmas parties or Christmas decorating, whatever it was we'd quit doing during the Division I-AA title game the past 13 years.

(Note to self: Yes, I know I'm supposed to write FCS title game, but what's the NCAA going to do to us now, take the game away?)

And, please, no talk about how the weather will be better at Frisco's Pizza Hut Park than it was at Finley. In my 27 years as a sports writer in this town, the single most miserable bowl experience of my life was the Jan. 1, 2001, Cotton Bowl between Tennessee and Kansas State in Dallas.

The high was something like 26 degrees. The wind was strong enough to blow UT coach Phil Fulmer all the way to Oklahoma. Your body had a better chance of escaping injury tiptoeing through an Iraqi minefield than walking through the ice-covered Cotton Bowl grounds.

Thirteen years. Thousands of volunteered man hours. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to our town to watch 13 national championship games, nearly each one better than the one before it -- except the 1999 contest highlighted by Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson's 37-tackles-breaking, 57-yard run against Youngstown State, a play that will never have an equal, no matter where this game is played.

Not that I'm bitter or anything, but I personally hope the blizzard to end all blizzards hits Texas on Jan. 7, 2011. That the I-AA title game must not only battle the weather but a Cotton Bowl matchup featuring Texas and LSU on the same night. That the NHL's Stars -- which call Frisco home -- also host a game that night. And that the NFL's Cowboys host a playoff game the next day 20 miles away, all of which would surely turn Frisco into Fiasco.

Unless, of course, you just can't get enough of IKEA.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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FRISCO said...

What a ridiculous column. Mark, in my opinion, the article would've been better if you could've made your point without belittling Frisco, TX. And it's not that I care so much for Frisco, TX but a more professional writer wouldn't have even considered slamming another city and wishing harm/failure on it and its responsibility to do its very best for the I-AA Title game and its fans and supporters. Nine out of ten Jan. 1's in Frisco (which is essentially Dallas but in name only), a person can comfortably play golf in short sleeves. So, your idea that because you spent one day here must mean it's always dank and cold and icy Jan. 1 in Dallas is ridiculous. And what a farce it is that you opine you care for the I-AA game anyway. You only care that Chattanooga lost it, nothing more. Why else you wish failure on the game? Dallas is a far stretch from being a great city but it's way above Chattanooga if one can correctly judge your city by the bitter tone of your article. I like Chattanooga and have great respect for Tennesseans (save for one past metrosexual VP from TN) and I like to think this article will soon be forgotten ... kind of like Chattanooga has been by the folks who decided the host city for a championship did. Frisco is only trying to do things the right way per hosting the FCS title game and it's a shame you put the city down like you did. Your article is simply a mean-spiritied and wrong. FCS Title Game or I-AA title game ... it's still a game played by kids and enjoyed by all. Let's wish all of them well and good fortune. Mark, you owe Frisco an apology. Are you man enough to offer one up?

February 28, 2010 at 2:01 p.m.
MocPaul said...

I agree with the previous comment. This is a very poor piece of journalism that shows bitterness, a shallow mind, and a vindictive spirit. I am an avid fan of the Mocs, and have been closely following I-AA (FCS) football since the days when a when a win over Marshall (I'm assuming that's the West Virginia reference) was a big thing.

Listen, the NCAA is in charge of putting on a great game and creating awonderful experience for student athletes and fans,not placating or feeding the ego of sportswriters.

It's easier to fly to Dallas then Chattanooga. I's cheaper. It's a major league city that can host NBA all-star games (like this year) and NBA Finals, and NHL Stanley Cup games, etc. There are more hotel rooms. It's got better weather (Sorry Mark, that's not debatable.)

I'm sorry that we lost this game. I went each year. But to slam a city (Dallas) in our paper for getting this game reflects poorly on our city. They won the bid. So we blame other team for losing? Mark, you didnt slam the NCAA or our local people who put the bid together... you slammed the winning city. What kind of writing is that? Third grade "Johnny won the spelling by so now I'm gonna punch him in the nose' mentality??

Our columnists are, in a way, representives of our city. In this instance, we look like poor losers, and are acting like a child who lost his toy.

Good luck to the new city. They have a wonderful event to call theirs. I hope they can do as well as we did in Chattanooga.

And I wish our journalists would be more classy and explain 'why' things happen, not moan-and-groan when we don't get our way.


February 28, 2010 at 9:27 p.m.
forestoney said...

It's possible that a blizzard would impact the game, but it might burst your bubble to know that Frisco is the home of more than 100,000 people and part of the expansive Dallas metroplex. While the Stars don't play their games in Frisco (they play at the American Airlines Center in Dallas), a Stars/Cowboys/Cotton Bowl/FCS combination would not have trouble pulling in attendees and would shape up for a pretty nice little sporting weekend...

My condolences on your loss.

March 1, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.
bemused said...

1) Ikea is pretty sweet

2) There's also a battery smelting plant downtown

3) I'm sorry that you got screwed over by the NCAA, but that's not really our fault. We'll take good care of the game, we promise.

March 1, 2010 at 4:21 p.m.
MontanaMan said...

Come on you poor sport. 13 years is enough. Remember the year Chatanooga put down turf the day before the game with a little bailing twine and we ended up with one massive mess? Maybe the NCAA has a memory of that too. Chatanogga....nice town, but time for a change.

March 1, 2010 at 9:26 p.m.
easleychuck said...

Thanks for a spot-on opinion piece. This game meant something to Chattanooga. It had been nurtured locally. There was a feeling that this was the game's home. And I believe that is the most important point of Mark's article.

The NCAA should have been upfront about the fact that they had decided to go in a different direction. Could care less about Frisco, Texas, one way or another. I do believe that having the game on the same day as the Cotton Bowl pretty much relegates this game to an after thought.

Chattanooga should tell the NCAA to pound sand when this current contract expires and the novelty has worn off for Frisco.

March 3, 2010 at 8:43 a.m.
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