With the tumult in Berkeley behind us, let's focus on the Bay Area's bowl-bound teams. Stanford and San Jose State are headed to the postseason; the only question is where.
Fresh off its upset of top-ranked Oregon, the Cardinal (9-2) is within range of its third consecutive appearance in the Bowl Championship Series and could reach the BCS even if it loses to UCLA on Saturday.
Resurgent San Jose State (9-2) is bowling for the first time since 2006 and has a list of potential destinations that stretches from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu.
Both could benefit from the chaos in the Big Ten, which has two ineligible teams (Ohio State and Penn State) and won't fill its eight bowl tie-ins.
One possibility for SJSU is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, on Dec. 15 in Boise.
The bowl has first pick of teams from the Western Athletic Conference, but presumptive league champion Utah State participated in the last year and both the Aggies and bowl officials might prefer a fresh face.
As long as Utah State has another option, arrangements could be made for San Jose State to fill the WAC half of the draw against a team from the Mid-American Conference. (It doesn't hurt SJSU's cause that first-year athletic director Gene Bleymaier held the same post at
If Boise isn't an option, the Spartans would become a free agent, available to any bowl that has a vacancy. That's where the sorry state of the Big Ten comes into play.
The conference won't fill at least one (and as many as three) of its bowl tie-ins, meaning the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl — it's last in the Big Ten pecking order -- is sure to have an opening. (The Little Caesars used to be the Motor City Bowl,
SJSU could land in the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. ,or the Heart of Texas Bowl in Dallas. There's also the intriguing possibility of San Jose State filling a vacancy in the Hawaii Bowl, where the Spartans would face a familiar foe (Fresno State or Nevada) from its future home (the Mountain West).
Stanford has fewer potential destinations than San Jose State but a more complicated path. Let's take it step by step:
That would leave the Granddaddy with a vacancy. So long as No. 8 Stanford remains in the top 14 of the BCS rankings — a strong possibility — it would be eligible for the Rose.
Bowls are usually averse to inviting the same team two years in a row. But because the Big Ten won't have an at-large team available, the Fiesta could be forced to select Clemson or Stanford.
In that case, the Cardinal might be the preferred choice.
If the Cardinal loses twice to UCLA in a six-day span — Saturday and the Pac-12 title game — then it becomes damaged goods. The Alamo could take a pass, leaving Stanford to the Holiday or Sun bowls.
That's not a likely scenario. Then again, when the season began, few figured Stanford would be in the BCS-bowl picture at all.