MWC Gets Bowl Deal

The Mountain West Conference has entered into a four year contract extension to play a Conference USA (C-USA) team beginning with the 2006 football season through 2009. The alliance also includes a PAC-10 foe.

For the 2005 season, ESPN will broadcast the bowl game on December 23 at 8 p.m. EST from Amon Carter Stadium. The contest will be between a Conference USA opponent and a Big 12 school. Unlike the sixth place conference standing of the Pac-10 opponent, the Big 12 opponent ranking was not given.

For the 2006-2009 seasons, Tom Starr, the Executive Director of the Fort Worth Bowl, along with Commissioner Britton Banowsky of Conference USA, announced a new scenario that would feature teams from the MWC, C-USA and a PAC-10 sixth place team to play in the ESPN Regional Televised (ERT) event.

"We are enthusiastic about a match-up featuring Conference USA versus Mountain West teams," Starr said. "We are further excited about the possibility of having a PAC-10 team in 2007. All three of these conferences consist of nationally prominent teams that play an exciting brand of football."

For BYU's program, one positive of having an ESPN regionally televised game in the state of Texas is that it would provide more exposure in an area the coaching staff wants to start recruiting more heavily in.

Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen feels the new bowl game is just one more avenue of exposure for a team that finished in the lower level of Pac-10 play. The contract with the Pac-10 is included only for the 2007 season, which will either include a MWC or a C-USA team.

"The Pac-10 is pleased to enter into an agreement with the Forth Worth Bowl," Commissioner Tom Hansen said. "We have many student-athletes from the state of Texas and Fort Worth is a destination our teams and fans will enjoy. While it is a relatively new bowl, we have been positively impressed with the staff and management of the game."

What the determining factor is regarding team selection between the MWC and a C-USA match up with a sixth place Pac-10 team wasn't given, and the level of conference ranking to qualify for the bowl game isn't clear.

However, being excluded from the big dollars of the BCS monopoly, the Forth Worth Bowl will bring in more money into the MWC; money that the Cougar program could use following a long drought of bowl game participation.

On the flip side, the more these lesser bowl games are created the more watered down the meaning of the bowl game experience becomes, especially when a MWC team plays a sixth place Pac-10 team. The chomping of the bowl game bit just seems to lose its flavor, and holds the neon "Mid Major" sign right over the heads of MWC football programs.

Still some are content with the alliance as C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky stated, "We are pleased to extend our agreement with the Fort Worth Bowl. Our teams have enjoyed playing in the bowl and have appreciated the gracious hospitality offered by the folks in Fort Worth. We look forward to playing a team from the Mountain West Conference and we are confident the bowl will continue to grow in stature with each passing football season."

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