Hoolahan will rake off something in the neighborhood of $600,000 in salary and bonuses this year for defrauding college football fans who expected the Sugar Bowl to present the best available game. Instead he awarded bids to No. 13 Michigan and No. 17 Virginia Tech based, it appears, purely on debts and favors owed. It mattered not that at least five other teams had stronger competitive claims.
No. 8 Boise State, No. 11 Kansas State and No. 12 Michigan State were all more deserving of a bid than Virginia Tech, which failed to beat a ranked team, and for that matter so were No. 15 Baylor and No. 16 TCU.
None of this mattered to Hoolahan with his mystery criteria. Even Tech Coach Frank Beamer struggled to understand what did matter. The best he could guess was, “Over the years the Virginia Tech name has gotten to be a very good name.”
As if this is Boston, and teams are the Cabots and Lodges.
Remember, it was Hoolahan who last year blatantly lobbied Big Ten and Ohio State officials to back off suspending Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates for pawning items for cash until after the Sugar Bowl game against Arkansas. And then was brazen enough to brag about it in public. “I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year’s game, we would greatly appreciate it,” Hoolahan told the Columbus Dispatch. “That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I’m extremely excited about it, that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength and with no dilution.”
No dilution. That was the neat phrase Hoolahan substituted for “mockery of the rules.” This year, he used another neat phrase in defense of his indefensible bid to Virginia Tech, which seemed to amount to cronyism. “We obviously had firsthand experience with them,” he said. “It has always been a very effective experience and so we really didn’t have any problems selecting them.”
According to the lobbying group Playoff Pac, which watchdogs the BCS, the top three Sugar Bowl executives received more than $1.2 million of the game’s revenue of $12.7 million in 2009. Now, the Sugar Bowl is supposedly a nonprofit. Yet Hoolahan and two others skimmed almost $1 off of every $10 the bowl brought in. Hoolahan’s bonus in ’08, the year the Sugar hosted the national championship, was $140,000. In ’09 it was $80,000.