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Was that a Horned Frog we saw flying over Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon? Or merely a hog? Hats off to Texas Christian University athletic director Eric Hyman for -- at least ostensibly -- prioritizing academics over TCU's invitation to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Hyman argues that the date of the bowl (December 18th) would wreak havoc on the school's final exam week. A noble stance on the surface, but a typically (for college sports, at least) selfish snub in the final analysis. The ripple effect of TCU's deliberation has been felt throughout the perplexing bowl bid system, particularly for schools -- like the University of Memphis -- under the umbrella of Conference USA. With the GMAC slated to feature C-USA's second-place team (TCU), officials for the New Orleans Bowl -- champing at the bit to invite the U of M to its first bowl game in 32 years -- were in attendance Saturday for the Tigers' season finale against South Florida. At the end of the day, thanks to TCU, their bid remained sealed. This is easy math from the TCU standpoint. Having suffered but a single loss, the Horned Frogs feel slighted by the drop to Mobile's second-tier postseason affair. If they can't play on New Year's Day, they'd prefer the familiar environs of the Fort Worth Bowl, to be played December 23rd . . . exams well behind. Since when, though, did this tail wag the all-powerful dog of college football's bowl structure? C-USA (if not the NCAA itself) should step up, applaud TCU for its priorities, and tell them to close their football offices for 2003. Allow bowl officals in Mobile (and New Orleans) to make their choices, and allow the choices to sell their tickets. There are schools that will take any bowl bid, and with a smile. They shouldn't have to stand in line for their suitors.

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