November 30, 2011
Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson has been in contact with representatives from Air Force and the Military Bowl this week about the possibility of the Falcons playing in that bowl game.
A conference spokesman confirmed that Thompson has been in discussions with both sides, and Air Force going to the Military Bowl remains “one of several options.” The Mountain West has five eligible teams, and four bowl tie-ins.
Falcons athletic director Hans Mueh, who had lunch with Thompson on Tuesday, stated his personal preference is the Military Bowl. That bowl, held Dec. 28 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., needs a replacement after Navy wasn’t bowl eligible. Air Force would seem like a perfect fit for the bowl, which has numerous events and ceremonies during bowl week that honor the military.
Military Bowl executive director Steve Beck said the bowl is “waiting to see” if Air Force will be allowed to participate in that game. To be available to the Military Bowl, all four Mountain West Bowls would have to pass on Air Force. Representatives from the Independence and New Mexico bowls, which have the third and fourth picks among Mountain West-affiliated bowls, have said the Falcons are an attractive option.
The Military Bowl feels the same way.
“We’d love to have them,” Beck said. “Patriotism is a big part of our game. That gives us an added feature with a military academy.”
The Independence Bowl remains a likely option for Air Force because the Falcons sold more than 12,000 tickets last year and the bowl is not against having Air Force back for a repeat visit.
But the Mountain West badly wants to find bowl homes for all five of its teams. UCLA being given a bowl waiver even if it loses the Pac-12 title game and falls to 6-7 puts a little more pressure on the conference, which is projecting 72 eligible teams for 70 spots.
The conference could also get a team into the Bowl Championship Series, which would solve its problems of having one too many eligible teams, but that doesn’t seem likely. TCU would need Houston to lose in the Conference USA title game, and the Horned Frogs would also need to move into the top 16 of the BCS standings to get an automatic bid. TCU is ranked 18th. Boise State is ranked seventh in the BCS standings, but if TCU wins out it is considered the league champion (and eligible for the automatic bid) and Boise State seems unlikely to get an at-large spot.
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