TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, March 02, 2004
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A bowl of changes
Mountain West Conference could be up for new postseason arrangements
Payouts, travel and the additions of a fifth BCS game has the Mountain West’s bowl scene bound for change.

By Danny Gillham
Skiff Staff

TCU football is still a year away from heading west, but the team knows it will probably see a different bowl picture upon its arrival.

At the moment, the Mountain West Conference has ties to three bowls — the Las Vegas Bowl, the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, and the Liberty Bowl, whose title sponsor becomes Auto Zone in 2004.

However, MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said both the Liberty and Las Vegas bowl contracts expire in 2004, with San Francisco’s contract expiring a year later.

Thoughts for more money have also appeared, with the announcement Sunday of the Bowl Championship Series adding a fifth bowl.

The decision allows four at-large berths to be given based on a complex formula based largely on national rankings, but does not guarantee that a team outside of the six BCS conferences will play in the bowl.

Thompson said he remains anxious and optimistic about future decisions, and said his new conference will make a strong case for BCS consideration.

“In terms of competitiveness on the field, I think there is a great case to be made for our conference as opposed to the new Big East after all conference moves are made,” Thompson said. “You will see that we are similar, if not better than what they will have to offer.”

Thompson said the five spots in the running for MWC bowl sites are Memphis, Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Seattle and Denver.

“With the majority of our teams to the West, I would say we would want to stay closer to our teams, maybe playing a championship game in some place like Denver,” Thompson said.

Both Thompson and TCU athletics director Eric Hyman said the likelihood of the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl going with TCU to the mountains is high.

“I can’t look into a crystal ball, but with all the moves that have taken place, do you think the Fort Worth Bowl would be more prone to stay where they are, or perhaps follow TCU?” Hyman said.

Thompson said the moving of the conference champion’s bowl makes sense due to travel issues.

The last three Mountain West champions — Utah, Colorado State and Brigham Young — all failed to come close to selling the 10,000 tickets responsible to them in the league’s agreement with the Liberty Bowl.

Each unsold ticket, which were sold at $42 a piece in 2003, comes out of the school’s $1.3 million share for playing in the game.

According to Athletic Marketing Director Tim George, TCU sold about 5,000 of its allotted tickets when it appeared in the Liberty Bowl in 2002.

“A lot of times what you will see is people will first call the school, then directly call the bowl for tickets,” George said. “Our sales were not a representation of our fans at the game.”

Thompson said he will not place his conference champion in a bowl unless it has a quality payout and a quality opponent.

“If you are talking about the No. 5 or 6 team from the PAC-10 I would say our champion deserves better than that,” Thompson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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