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BOWL SEASON, PART II: EARLY ATTENDANCE NUMBERS SHOW INCREASE
Published January 4, 1999
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).