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

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

February 27th, 2010 by Mark Wiedmer in Opinion Columns

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.