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Bowled Over? and Roberte Clemente
Here's the transcript from Show 144 of weekly Outside The Lines - Bowled Over? and Roberte Clemente
ANNOUNCER- December 29, 2002.
MARK SCHWARZ, GUEST HOST- They seem to be multiplying. This year, a record 28 bowl games will be played. Perhaps getting an invitation doesn't mean as much when almost half of Division I-A gets one.
JOE PATERNO, PENN STATE HEAD COACH - You're a Bowl team. So's 50 other guys.
DAHRRAN DIEDRICK, NEBRASKA RUNNING BACK - There's whatever dot com, and whatever bowl; there seems like a bowl for everything.
SCHWARZ - Some say the number is just right.
DAN MCCARTNEY, IOWA STATE HEAD COACH - Anything that would tarnish or hurt the bowl system we have in place now, I'm completely against it.
SCHWARZ - Also this week, on the 30th anniversary of his death, we remember the legacy of Roberto Clemente, the player and the humanitarian.
PETE ROSE, MLB CAREER HIT LEADER- I could just close my eyes and see Bobby out there loading that plane up -- helping to load that plane up. Can't wait to see the smiling faces on the people who he is going to help.
SCHWARZ- This week on Outside the Lines, remembering Roberto Clemente, and are we being bowled over with too many Bowl games?
If you love college football and that 28 inch mountain of snow in your driveway has made you a captive audience, then you wouldn't dream of missing a minute of the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl, or that Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl, or the treasured December tradition that is the GMAC Bowl. ESPN broadcasts 20 of the record 28 bowl games on its family of networks, and we do it because you watch. Fifty-seven million of you caught some of last year's action during Bowl week. And this year's GMAC Bowl was the most viewed program in the history of ESPN2.
But when eight teams with losing conference records go to bowls, when three teams with .500 records get invitations, and when half the bowls feature a team with five or more losses, is this a good thing, or just an opportunity to celebrate coaches and players for mediocrity? Here's Bob Holtzman.
BOB HOLTZMAN, ESPN CORRESPONDENT - Last season, they were tailgating at the national championship game. But this year, the party is in Shreveport, Louisiana, home of the Mainstay Independence Bowl. It's one of the ugliest Bowl match-ups ever. 6-6 Mississippi, which tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference, and Nebraska, which uncharacteristically finished 7-6 and had eighth place in the Big 12 all to itself.
DIEDRICK - You can look at it both ways. More bowl games give a lot of teams that probably wouldn't have an opportunity to go to a Bowl game to get a chance to go to one. But also when there's so many, it seems like there's a Bowl for every single thing.
HOLTZMAN- Ten years ago, there were 18 Bowls. This year there are a record 28, including three new ones, the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, and the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl. This year the NCAA adopted a new rule declaring teams that finished 6-6 bowl eligible. That means 48 percent of Division I-A teams now go to a bowl game.
JOE PATERNO, PENN STATE HEAD COACH- I think you can lose the whole idea of you're a bowl team, all right? So is 50 other guys.
CHRIS DOUGLAS, DUKE RUNNING BACK- I think it's a fine line. You know, everybody wants to go to a Bowl game, but, you know, it's like once you have, you know, 50 Bowl games or something, once you have too many Bowl games, then it kind of lessens the value. Then it's like, oh, you went to a Bowl game, so what.
HOLTZMAN- This season, Texas A&M was the only major conference Bowl-eligible team not to get an invite. And it's not as if tickets to many of these games are a hot commodity. Take the Seattle Bowl. Wake Forest is having so much trouble selling its allotment of 12,500 seats that it's asking supporters who can't make the 3,000-mile trip to Monday's game to buy tickets anyway and donate them to charity. Wake is one of several universities that may lose money going to a Bowl game.
TIM CURLEY, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY- What Bowl is this for you?
PENN STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER- This is number two.
CURLEY- Number two. You're a big veteran around here.
PENN STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER- That's right.
HOLTZMAN- Tim Curley is Director of Athletics at Penn State and chair of the NCAA postseason football certification subcommittee. They decide how many bowls there should be. Curley says next season there will be fewer schools like Wake Forest struggling to sell tickets, and probably fewer bowls, because of a new rule which goes into effect in 2003. It makes bowl games financially responsible for thousands of tickets, just like the universities.
CURLEY- Well, I think you'll see that next year you'll have some Bowls that will eliminate themselves because financially they'll not be in a position to be able to exist.
HOLTZMAN- Curley expects the market to take care of itself, sort of a Bowl season supply and demand that will eventually lead to a comfortable number of games. Chances are, that will be fewer than the 28 being played this season. Although Curley and many others hope not.
CURLEY- This year we'll have over 5,000 student athletes that will have an opportunity to participate in postseason competition. We believe that's a positive thing.
JAMYON SMALL, DUKE LINEBACKER- I definitely think that it's an experience that every college football player dreams of, playing in a Bowl game, and I don't think they should cut it down. I don't think it hurts the integrity of Bowl games at all.
DAN MCCARTNEY, IOWA STATE HEAD COACH- Anything that would tarnish or hurt or take away the Bowl system we have in place right now, I'm completely against it, because I've seen what it's done for a university and for a community and for a state firsthand.
SCHWARZ- OK, joining us now from Orlando, Florida, Tom Mickle. He is the executive director of Florida's Citrus Sports. That means he runs the Capital One Bowl and the Mazda Tangerine Bowl. We have Bob Pruett, head coach of Marshall University. He's led the Thundering Herd to five consecutive bowl victories, that the longest streak in the nation. Bob's team beat Louisville in this year's GMAC Bowl, seen here on ESPN. And Dave Lagarde, a columnist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, home of both the Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl.
Dave, you just heard the linebacker from Duke, playing in a Bowl game is an experience every college player dreams of. Dave, would you deny any of these young men those dreams?
DAVE LAGARDE, COLUMNIST, NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE- Well, Mark, isn't it an experience that everybody gets now with 56 teams going and with, like, I think 64 percent of the teams having not carried four losses into the games, and I think 26 percent of the teams that played didn't have winning conference records. So why not, you know, open it up to everybody?
SCHWARZ- All 117 Division I-A teams.
LAGARDE- Well, one team would have to get shut out.
SCHWARZ- Right. Well, one team did, Texas A&M. They were the only eligible team. Tom, you run two Bowl games. Are there too many? There are now 28.
TOM MICKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FLORIDA CITRUS SPORTS- Yes, I do believe there are too many, Mark. I worry about -- I believe in the Bowl system, and I worry about the overall health of the system. Because we have 28 games, and that's probably too many. Forty-eight percent of the country is rewarded. I think something more along the lines of 20 bowls would be acceptable. The top 15 bowls do very well, 65,000 average attendance last year in those top 15 games.
The bottom eight games averaged 31,000 in attendance and did very poorly in the television ratings. So I worry about the overall health of the system. And that's why I think the negative of the Bowl system is those bottom eight or 10 games, and that's what we get criticized for. And so therefore, I think fewer games like Tim Curley. I encourage the NCAA to strengthen the regulations. I think that there's artificial inflation as far as the dollar amount that the bowls are paying out because the teams are guaranteeing so many tickets, 25,000 tickets at $40 apiece. That's almost the entire payout right there.
SCHWARZ- Well, Tom, your bowl, the Tangerine Bowl, played last Monday, drew 21,689. It had a rating less than half of the Insight Bowl in a 65,000-seat stadium. Would you eliminate your Tangerine Bowl as one of the ones that are unnecessary?
MICKLE- I certainly would, Mark. If after four years if you have that ramp-up period and you can't get there, I think it does need to be eliminated. So I'm not against that at all. We're willing to play on a level playing field, see if we can compete. We've got the Big 12 and ACC. I think that game will do fine. We've increased ticket sales over the last year by about 5,000. And I think that game can eventually be a very healthy game, and that's what would be a very healthy benefit to our community at a time when tourism is down in central Florida. So we hope that game can grow. But if it doesn't grow, yes, get rid of it.
SCHWARZ- Wow. Coach Pruett, your Marshall team has won five consecutive bowls, three of those were the Motor City, and the last two were the GMAC. What really is accomplished by winning a bowl that much of the country could not identify by name?
BOB PRUETT, MARSHALL HEAD COACH- Well, that's not necessarily true with us, because the GMAC Bowl was the second -- the most watched bowl game in ESPN2 history. But what it's accomplished for us is helped us in recruiting, it's helped us in our national prominence, helped us in our -- it's helped us in our student enrollment. Our enrollment is up. It's helped us with the national image of our football program. We've been in the Top 25 the last four years, so it's been a win-win situation for us, and we haven't lost money in our bowl program, so we're excited about going to a bowl, and it's really helped Marshall University's football program.
SCHWARZ- Well, you've made money in the last two GMAC Bowls. But before that, in four straight Motor City Bowls, Marshall came away with a loss. How is that a benefit for your university?
PRUETT- Well, I don't think that there's any way that you could put Marshall University on national TV for three hours and buy that type of publicity nationwide as we would get the university. So that alone certainly helps -- helps us, helps us in recruiting, and helps us in our national prominence.
SCHWARZ- Dave, why would you deny a school like Marshall from the Mid-American Conference without a whole lot of national exposure with 11 wins, with a Heisman Trophy contender who will go high in the NFL draft, Byron Leftwich, a quarterback, a chance to showcase themselves in December?
LAGARDE- Oh, I wouldn't. I think Marshall -- I think it's unfortunate that Marshall is sort of locked out of the BCS system most times. And that's what skewers the bowl system per se, as we have it today. I don't think it's a fair system. And God bless Marshall for being able to go play in a bowl. I think though, it's when you have bowls averaging, like the New Orleans Bowl, they said 19,000 were there, and it was probably half of that. Those are the kind of bowls that are -- that just really drag down the system and just -- to me, it's a black eye.
SCHWARZ- But how is the system being brought down? You have people coming to places like New Orleans, the party capital of the world, hundreds of fans and alumni spending some time watching their team...
LAGARDE- Hundreds? You said that -- that's the key word. It was hundreds for New Orleans. It wasn't thousands. And you know, I know that in the instance of Tulane going to Hawaii, the athletic director creatively trying to sell tickets by telling people, well, if you can't go, buy a ticket anyway and let it serve as a commemorative ConAgra Foods Bowl game ticket. I mean, come on, give me a break.
SCHWARZ- Well, Tom, if you look at the ratings on ESPN about some of those bowls, which I think you are deeming to be rather irrelevant, let's take a look at the Insight Bowl, Pitt and Oregon State, which far surpassed ESPN's ratings for Stanley Cup Finals NHL games. And then on Christmas Day, we aired a Tracy McGrady -- Orlando-Detroit NBA game, and more people tuned in after it was over to watch UCLA and New Mexico in the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl. People are watching these games.
LAGARDE- Do you think that gambling has anything to do with it?
MICKLE- I think college football is a strong product, and obviously ESPN wouldn't be airing these games if the ratings weren't there. But I think you got to earn your way in. As Bob says -- Bob Pruett -- Marshall should be in there. Your top couple teams in each conference should be in there. But let's look at the 6-6 teams, let's look at the teams that have losing records in their conference. I think that's what I would encourage the NCAA, Miles Brands coming in. Let's look at things like that, and that will allow the teams that are having great seasons, the Boise State's or whatever, to get in Bowl games and get the exposure that they so richly deserve.
SCHWARZ- Last question for all of you, we'll start with you, Tom. What changes are proposed for next year that will make it less likely, perhaps, that we will have all these bowls crowded with teams with five losses?
MICKLE- Well, I think, as Tim Curley said, the financial barometer is out there now. The host community has to raise as much money as they sell tickets to the visiting teams, and that's going to be very, very difficult for some of these bowls. And I think you'll see some of them will be on probation, and then eventually eliminated, and I think that will strengthen the system overall, so I look forward to that.
SCHWARZ- You agree with that, coach?
PRUETT- Well, I think the bowl system has helped us get in the position where we are now where we could get selected to a bowl. Before we were able to go to these six straight bowls, Marshall wasn't a marquee name and we didn't have the respect or the exposure. Now we've got it, and we've got the recognition. So it's really helped us.
SCHWARZ- Dave, quickly, what would you like to see happen next year?
LAGARDE- Well, I'd like to see bowls that can't draw flies just, you know, go the way of the dinosaur, to be honest with you. I think it's really a shame what's happening. And I would particularly like to see teams that don't have -- you know, you probably should have to have a winning conference record to be Bowl eligible. That might be the best barometer.
SCHWARZ- David Lagarde of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Tom Mickle with the Citrus and Tangerine Bowls. Citrus coming up this week; Penn State and Auburn, and coach Bob Pruett from Marshall, thank you all so much.
PRUETT- Thank you.
MICKLE- Thank you.
LAGARDE- Thank you.
SCHWARZ- All right. Next on OUTSIDE THE LINES, remembering Roberto Clemente, an athlete with a social conscience who passed away way too soon.
STEVE BLASS, ROBERTO CLEMENTE'S TEAMMATE 1964-1972- This guy is like a Don Quixote. It's not just a death, it's a hero's death.
SCHWARZ- This holiday season marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of Roberto Clemente. Unmatched as an outfielder and with few peers as a hitter, Clemente was Puerto Rico's answer to Babe Ruth. But what makes this man so extraordinary is that his death was more heroic than his life. When you measure the accomplishments of this extraordinary athlete, perhaps his greatest gift was the one he delivered far from the baseball field; His most lasting legacy may be as a humanitarian.
BOB COSTAS, NBC/HBO COMMENTATOR- This was a guy who projected the dignity and presence of the great gladiators from any arena, any sport. He exuded pride and he exuded competence. In big games, he was one of the best performers in baseball history.
PIRATES ANNOUNCER- Pitch for him from Farmer, and here's the ball hit very deep to right field. It is gone for a home run. Bobby Clemente continues to totally annihilate Baltimore pitchers.
SCHWARZ - The 1971 World Series was Roberto Clemente's watershed moment. At the age of 37, Clemente saw the fall classic as an opportunity to showcase his formidable talent. Not only did he batter Baltimore with 12 hits, including two home runs, he dazzled the baseball world with his spectacular defense.
BLASS- Just went over 360, and it seemed like he released the ball before he had completely turned to see third base. You're not supposed to be able to do that.
PIRATES ANNOUNCER - What a throw!
BOOG POWELL, PLAYED AGAINST ROBERTO CLEMENTE IN 1971 WORLD SERIES- And it was almost like he did it blind. I mean, he just wheeled and he fired and bang, it was right on the money.
COSTAS- He's rightly revered both as a player and as a symbol as the first truly great Hispanic player who broke through as a major league superstar.
SCHWARZ- Clemente hit .414 to win the series MVP. And while accepting the award during a live American telecast, he took a moment to do something few baseball fans had ever witnessed.
REPORTER IN LOCKER ROOM- ... Baseball, Roberto Clemente. Bobby, congratulations on a great World Series.
ALVARO MARTIN, ESPN- I was watching. I was a 9-year-old kid in San Juan watching. And I remember when he broke into Spanish, it was a vibrant moment for all of us watching.
Who had the audacity on national English TV to take a break at the top of the question and say, excuse me, but I really need to send a message back home. It made the hair on the back of our neck just stand. That was pride at its purest. The feeling that you get when you talk about Roberto Clemente, for people of my generation, is one of absolute, pure, unabashed pride.
SCHWARZ- That pride transcends Clemente's unparalleled athletic feats. He's also remembered as an extraordinary humanitarian. A year after the 1971 Series, he had just returned from a visit to Nicaragua. Shortly before Christmas, a massive earthquake nearly destroyed Managua, killing 10,000 and leaving another 2,000 homeless. Clemente was quick to respond to a country in need, collecting a plane full of supplies and urging the public to donate food and clothing.
ROSE- I could just close my eyes and see Bobby out there loading that plane up -- helping to loading that plane up. Can't wait to see the smiling faces on the people he's going to help. That's the kind of guy he was.
SCHWARZ- No sooner did the plane arrive in Nicaragua, government soldiers seized the cargo, planning to sell it on the black Market.
OSVALDO GIL, ROBERTO CLEMENTE'S FRIEND- Roberto was really mad about it, you know, because he thought that these things were going to the people. And he learned that the soldiers took it. And Clemente went mad. He really went mad. And he said to me, I'm going, next time I'm going.
PHIL MUSICK, ROBERTO CLEMENTE BIOGRAPHER- And he said that if they were selling those supplies and he went there, he would stop it. They wouldn't do that with Roberto Clemente there. And they wouldn't have.
SCHWARZ- A week passed. The next shipment was planned for New Year's Eve. With few resources available, Clemente opted to charter a small plane with a history of mechanical problems. His crew removed the seats and the plane was crammed full of goods until it was nearly two tons overweight.
NELLIE KING, ROBERTO CLEMENTE'S TEAMMATE 1955-1957- He never should have gone up in that plane. In fact, the pilot that was supposed to pilot the plane didn't want to go up. Somebody else came in and flew the plane, because he knew it wasn't safe.
CARLOS COLON, SON OF ROBERTO CLEMENTE'S FRIEND- My father tried to convince Roberto not to go. He insisted him not to go because the airplane wasn't in the best conditions available, and it was jam packed with food. But Roberto told him, if I'm going to die, I'm going to die.
SCHWARZ- Pride pushed Clemente forward. Beyond these rocks, just a mile out to sea, the plane banked hard and dropped into the ocean. The search continued for days as mourners gathered at a nearby beach. But Clemente's body was never found.
MARTIN- Unspeakable. Unspeakable.
COLON- A lot of people believed that he was still alive, still five, six, seven days after that. People believed he could swim to anywhere because he was athletic. And we couldn't -- for weeks, we couldn't believe that he was dead.
BLASS- This guy is like a Don Quixote. It's not just a death. It's a hero death. That's something that athletes aren't associated with in a lot of ways. I mean, a lot of athletes do wonderful things, but they don't die doing them.
ELROD HENDRICKS, PLAYED FOR ORIOLES AGAINST ROBERTO CLEMENTE IN THE 1971 WORLD SERIES- It was something that Clemente took pride in doing, in helping others. And I just look at it as him doing something else, not being a superstar, not because he's Clemente, but he's just a person that's inside, the good person that's inside of him. He did it from the heart.
SCHWARZ- Thirty years have passed since Clemente's death. Still, Latin America worships him. He's still royalty in Puerto Rico, where baseball has always been king. More than an icon, he has become a symbol to which all future generations can aspire, in baseball and in life.
LUIS MAYORAL, ROBERTO CLEMENTE'S FRIEND- By the time he died, to me and to many others, he was the best example of what Puerto Rico can give the world. He gave us hope, he gave us unity, and he was a way of showing the world that, you know, we had something to contribute to humanity.
OMAR MINAYA, EXPOS GENERAL MANAGER- The impact that he had in the Caribbean society, the Hispanic society, was this uplifting belief that, yes, we can achieve greatness in this sport. You see all these great Latin players out there now, they owe a debt to Roberto Clemente.
MARTIN- What's really amazing now to watch is other Latin players put him in his rightful place. To see Sammy Sosa wear 21, play right field. To see generations of players that probably never saw him play, say, he's -- he's our man. Pride. It's all about pride. It's all about pride. The way he went made us all even prouder.
SCHWARZ- Roberto Clemente, truly the greatest in so many ways. Last week, we looked at the systematic torture of Iraqi athletes. Your responses when Outside the Lines return.
SHARAR HAYDAR, FORMER IRAQI SOCCER PLAYER- Every single day I have been beaten on my feet. Twenty a day.
SCHWARZ- Our program last week explored how the son of Saddam Hussein allegedly tortured Iraqi athletes from his post as the head of Iraq's Olympic program.
And we heard this from Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania- "To learn of the torture of these apolitical athletes for the 'serious crime of losing a game' will hopefully unify the world community to the effort to rid the world of this war criminal."
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