The ninth annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl returns to Dallas for the second-straight year. The bowl game is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 30, at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium in University Park, Texas, and will feature an opponent from Conference USA. The kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CST, and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
"We are pleased to announce the relationship with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl," said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. "When we announced our football program was going independent, we recognized it would be a challenge given the timing to secure a bowl affiliation for 2011. As an institution, we have a lot respect for the service academies and the individuals who protect our country. We are privileged to participate in a game that honors the men and women of our armed forces."
While BYU has never played in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, it is no stranger to playing football in Texas. The Cougars won the 1997 Cotton Bowl by defeating Kansas State 19-15 and defeated No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13 in the inaugural college football game at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 5, 2009. The Cougars' 2011 regular-season football schedule also features two games in the "Lone Star" state against Texas (Sept. 10 in Austin) and TCU (Oct. 28 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington).
"We are extremely pleased to have an opportunity to host BYU as one of our bowl participants in 2011," said Brant B. Ringler, executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. "Our goal is to attract schools with a national presence to help us honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. BYU is a nationally recognized institution with an outstanding fan base."
The announcement gives BYU a bowl affiliation for each of the next three football seasons. If bowl eligible and not selected by a BCS bowl, BYU will play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium, and travel to San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in 2013 at AT&T Park.
BYU has an extensive bowl history that dates back to the 1974 Fiesta Bowl. Since then, the Cougars have been invited to 29 bowls, including a 52-24 victory over UTEP in the 2010 New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 18.
Featuring a military theme since 2006, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl recognizes all five branches of the military throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest areas showcasing military hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by military skydiving teams; on-field induction ceremonies; military bands and honor guards; and the awarding of the annual "Great American Patriot Award" (GAPA) presented by Armed Forces Insurance.
Owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), ticket information for the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be released later this spring. Military veterans receive discounted tickets and active-duty personnel receive free admittance via the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl corporate military ticket underwriting program. Additional information on all bowl activities can be obtained at www.ArmedForcesBowl.com.
Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, joined the bowl on August 23, 2006, as the title sponsor of the postseason college football game formerly known as the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl (2003, 2004) and the Fort Worth Bowl (2005). 2006 marked the first year for the adoption of the "Armed Forces Bowl" name, making the official title the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Bell Helicopter has twice exercised its option for title sponsorship of the game. The current agreement was signed in September 2009 to continue the sponsorship for the 2010 and 2011 games with a two-year option for 2012 and 2013.