Michigan Gets Outback Bowl Bid, Upsetting Sparty Fans
Michigan will take on South Carolina in this year's Outback Bowl, played in Tampa on New Year's Day, which makes Michigan State Spartan fans fighting mad.
And here's why.
Sometimes I wonder why they even bother playing the regular season in college football, if the results mean nothing and the bowl game berths are assigned randomly.
A case in point would be this year's Outback Bowl, which decided that unranked Michigan at 8-4 was a better fit for its New year's Day game than Michigan State, which had a 9-3 record and beat Michigan in the regular season.
The Spartans will instead head to San Diego to play Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
So what is the root cause of Sparty's anger?
For one, the Outback Bowl offers a bigger payout, with last year's participants receiving about $3.5 million per team, with the Holiday Bowl paying out about $2 million per team.
Also, the Outback plays on New Year's Day and although it isn't considered one of the "New Year's Six" big bowls, the viewing audience is bigger as it kicks off the traditional slate of day long games at 12 noon.
Spartan coach Mark D'Antonio accepted the so-called "lesser bowl" bid with dignity, telling reporters at a press conference "Life's about how you handle disappointments. I would not say going to the Holiday Bowl is a disappointment."
He then got this dig in. “I just look at it as an opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl right now. The records are what they are. I’ll just continue to focus on beating Michigan and let things sort of sort out.”
Is it a slight worth chewing on? Sure. Is it a heinous, calculated slap at Mark Dantonio’s program? Not really. It’s the screwy nature of the bowls, compounded by Ohio State’s victory over Wisconsin, which knocked the Badgers down to the Orange Bowl. In one of those selection quirks you never hear about until it’s too late, the Citrus Bowl isn’t allowed to take a Big Ten team if one is playing in the Orange Bowl.
So the Spartans, who appeared headed to Orlando for a Jan. 1 matchup with LSU, were bumped — not because they’re perennially disrespected, but because of the rule. By then, the Outback already had grabbed Michigan — figuring Michigan State would land in the Citrus, as expected — and wasn’t inclined to tear up its plans, knowing the Wolverines draw a huge TV audience.