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When It Comes to Bowl Games the Mountain West Comes Up Short

The past week there has been re-negotiations with the Holiday Bowl, Gator Bowl and the Alamo Bowl.  Now is as good as ever to rail on the Mountain West bowl situation.  The Holiday and Alamo bowl switch-aro is going to effect the Las Vegas Bowl where the Mountain West sends their first choice. 

The Holiday Bowl has sent the Pac-10 third team to take on the Big XII third team, however the Big XII usually sends two teams to the BCS.  So, the Holiday Bowl matchups up Pac-10 number two with Big XII fourth or even the fifth team in San Diego, and it is no secret that the Pac-10 wanted to better their bowl situation. 

Currently the only New Years day game is the Rose Bowl and the Pac-10 desperately wants to move up to a better date and a larger payout. The Alamo Bowl and the Pac-10 are nearing a deal that would bring in the Pac-10 number two to San Antonio for a January 2nd date and a bump in pay near three million dollars.

So how does this affect the Mountain West?

Currently the MWC sends the first choice --typically the champion-- ever since 2005 when the league dropped the Liberty Bowl, and the Vegas matchup has pitted the Pac-10 either fourth or fifth depending on the year.  If or when this deal happens the MWC champ --if not in a BCS game-- would play the 5th Pac-10 team.  That is just unacceptable for a conference champ to play a six or seven win team.

For all the complaining about the Liberty Bowl being across the country in Memphis, but at least it pitted the Mountain West champion against the C-USA champion.  Yes, the Pac-10 may be perceived a better win then beating a C-USA team but the C-USA champ will have at worst nine wins.

When the  move was made four years ago Commissioner Craig Thompson upgraded the Vegas Bowl to the first choice, but the opponent was not upgraded, plus the Vegas bowl is played pre-Christmas which is another negative for the league champ.

Thompson has made excuses for not moving this game to at least past Christmas, and those were cost because Vegas would be too expensive for the fans to travel to.  Nice little slap to the face for the fans of your league, however Vegas is so central fans can drive to Vegas within a reasonable time; the only exception is TCU but people go to Vegas since it is a destination city.

The league needs to do something because now is the time to try to get to another bowl or upgrade opponents, because the four year contracts are expiring.  Below is the bowl predictions and dates for the Mountain West by The Sporting New.

  • Las Vegas: Utah vs. Oregon State, December 22
  • New Mexico: Colorado State vs. Nevada, December 19
  • Armed Forces: TCU vs. Tulsa December 31
  • Humanitarian: Air Force vs. Fresno State December 30
  • Poinsettia: Stanford vs. BYU, December 23

These bowl matchups are all terrible and the league needs to do something to get a better opponent and get a better pay out. There is a potential that the top three teams this year could have ten wins, and then playing these schools who seven or eight wins max.  Also eight of the eleven leagues have games in January the three that are left out are the WAC, Sun Belt and the MWC.

Options that have been tossed around are for the champion to take over the Pac-10's spot in the Holiday Bowl and now pit the Big XII three -- really four or five -- agaisnt the MWC league champ.  The Holiday Bowl has history with Mountain West teams --since most were from the old WAC-- and would be a good fit, because it was the WAC champ that went to San Diego years ago. 

Another choice would be to take over the Big East's spot in the Sun Bowl which is located in El Paso and a real bad fit for the Big East.  The matchup would be Pac-10 three and still a decent team.  The gmae is New Years Eve, so still much better then pre-Christmas game.  Another reason this could be a good move is because the game is on CBS and they are partners with the MWC with CBS College Sports.

The other realistic is to be at the Bowl which is in Phoenix and a good location for the Mountain West schools.  The matchup would be against either the Big XII fourth team or Big 10 fourth of fifth team, and while this game is nothing great it is a better date and the increase in pay make this a marked improvement.

One option that was heard on local radio was for Commissioner Thompson to make a run at the Cotton Bowl.  What a ridicoulus statement where I nearly drove off of the road, and the sad part was that this radio host was serious about sending the league champ to the new Jerry World stadium.

Now getting into the Cotton Bowl would be awesome to play either the Big XII or SEC, but that is a pipe dream and not going to happen. However my inkling is that nothing will change for the bowl situation and the league will still be stuck in the Vegas bowl and playing a six or seven win team in leagues top bowl.