Wiz correspondent Greg Laughlin made his way to Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., Friday night for the matchup between Iowa State and Connecticut. The Cyclones stumbled early before rallying for a 24-20 victory over the reigning Big East champions.
There are more photos after the jump, and you can view Greg's full gallery by clicking here.
Big changes at Connecticut since January's Fiesta Bowl, starting at the top where Randy Edsall left for the coaching job at Maryland. Enter Paul Pasqualoni, who was Syracuse's coach from 1991-2004. There is considerable talent returning and the Huskies have four Big East home games, but the three league road games are against West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, top-end teams in the Big East.
The Wiz of Odds is conducting a comprehensive study of bowl game expense reports. All of the data collected — expense reports for 56 teams and bowl surveys for 40 teams — are being posted on the site. Here is the latest installment. For an overview of the project, click here.
The Fiesta Bowl, a nonprofit organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., operates the Fiesta and Insight Bowls. The first Fiesta Bowl was played in 1971.
2011 participants: Connecticut and Oklahoma.
Connecticut expenses: Total expenses were a reported $4.28 million with the biggest chunk ($2.92 million or 68.3 percent) resulting from 14,729 absorbed tickets, which were priced from $105 to $255. No small details were overlooked. The team reported spending $4,847 on band facility rental, bag tags and lanyards or cords that hold credentials. Download Connecticut Expenses
Survey: Despite getting fleeced on tickets, athletic director Jeffrey Hathaway indicated he was "very satisfied" with the location of seats for Connecticut fans — all 2,771 who purchased tickets through the school. He was "neutral" on the number of tickets the bowl required be purchased, and the cost.
"Ticket locations provided to team were outstanding and fans enjoyed the seat locations in the stadium," Hathaway wrote. "Great sightlines from all seats. Bowl might consider increasing number of its more affordable end zone seats as a way to appeal to a broader number of fans and/or students. We recognize the total ticket commitment associated with this BCS bowl game, but selling 17,500 tickets is a challenge for a school from the east whose fans incur more significant travel expenses."
Hathaway, who rated the overall bowl experience as "excellent (exceeded expectations)," wasn't completely happy with the watches given to players as gifts.
"Gift suite [a location where companies give products to players] for student-athletes was outstanding and awards were varied," he wrote. "We received some comments about the bowl watch, which did not contain a bowl logo on its face. Some enjoyed it, but others said that without a bowl logo, it lost some of its commemorative appeal." Download Connecticut Survey
Oklahoma expenses: The NCAA asks teams to report all absorbed ticket costs when tallying up total expenses, but the Sooners did not account for 10,403 tickets that were absorbed by the Big 12. That added $1.88 million, bringing total expenses to $3.73 million. Absorbed tickets accounted for 59.4 percent of Oklahoma's expenses. Download Oklahoma Expenses
Survey: Athletic director Joe Castiglione gave the cost of tickets a "neutral" rating.
"We understand that ticket prices are a major component of the payouts, but this year's prices combined with the overall economy made it extremely difficult for many of our fans to attend," he wrote.
Despite Oklahoma having reported spending $3.73 million on the trip, Castiglione rated the bowl as "excellent (exceeded expectations)."