SBD/4/Collegiate Sports

BOWL SEASON, PART II: EARLY ATTENDANCE NUMBERS SHOW INCREASE

          The BCS' emphasis on tonight's national championship
     game between TN and FL State "hardly put a damper" on the
     attendance of some middle- and lower-tier bowl games,
     according to USA TODAY's Steve Wieberg.  Attendance at 11 of
     19 bowl games increased from a year ago and total attendance
     rose 3% to an average of 54,979.  The Micron PC Bowl at Pro
     Player Stadium was up 57% and the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville
     saw attendance up "almost" 31% (USA TODAY, 1/4).  THE DAILY
     will list final bowl attendance later this week. 
          WILL ISL'S PLAN FLY: In a USA TODAY Cover Story, Steve
     Wieberg examined Swiss-based ISL's plan for a 16-team NCAA
     football playoff worth a projected $2.4B over eight years,
     beginning in 2002. ISL VP Jim Wheeler said another six
     months of "lobbying" AD's and college presidents "is going
     to tell us whether or not this thing is going to get pulled
     together.  While AD's may support the plan, it "figures to
     be a tough sell to presidents and chancellors who have long
     objected to extending the football season.  The plan would
     open the season a week earlier and qualify 16 teams for a
     December playoff.  The $300M per year "windfall" would more
     than double the $140M now being paid out by 22 bowls. 
     Wheeler: "I'm optimistic enough to continue, but there's a
     lot of work to be done" (USA TODAY, 12/30)....In Chicago,
     Jay Mariotti write that college football "continues to
     bungle a fabulous opportunity to create a Super Bowl-style
     fervor in America."  He writes that "there is little buzz
     accompanying" tonight's title game (SUN-TIMES, 1/4).  
          NOTES: In DC, Cox and Greenberger examine the glut of
     bowl games under the header, "Increasing Bowls, Decreasing
     Interest."  Finding ways "to pay the bills and maintain fan
     interest is becoming a major concern to organizers" of less
     prominent bowl games (WASHINGTON POST, 12/29).  In N.Y.,
     William Rhoden wrote the "glut of bowl games cheapens the
     accomplishment."  But Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said:
     "We're in a world of outlets willing to put the games on
     television, sponsors willing to sponsor them and teams
     willing to go to them.  They are celebrations for
     communities, players and sponsors" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/2).

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