After the game, because of all the games left to be played in the conference, Thomas was not quite ready to write off the Cyclones.
"I think they still have a good shot, depending on what else happens in the remaining games," Thomas said of ISU's chances.
The Tangerine Bowl, which just aquired automaker Mazda as its title sponsor on Friday, is keeping an eye on five Big 12 teams. In addition to the Cyclones, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Nebraska and Oklahoma State are still under consideration. The Big 12's opponent will come from the ACC, and will probably be either Clemson, Georgia Tech or Virginia.
Cyclone fans left Jack Trice Stadium after Saturday's upset by the University of Connecticut Huskies with the thought that Boise, Idaho would be their December destination. But there will be much negotiating and horse-trading before any bowl assignments are handed out, Thomas said.
The Houston Bowl is still very much in the picture, but their representatives were not present at Saturday's game. The conventional wisdom prior to the game pointed to a Cyclone lock on the Tangerine Bowl, with an outside shot at the Alamo Bowl, which is played in San Antonio.
Jack Rogers (in photo), Vice President of the Alamo Bowl, was the other bowl scout in
attendance at the game. He said prior to the contest that anything was possible, and the Alamo Bowl would certainly be thrilled at the prospect of tens of thousands of Iowa State fans descending on the famed Riverwalk. Rogers was probably as disappointed as the Cyclone fans who witnessed the lopsided Connecticut victory, which definitely removed Iowa State from any consideration by the Alamo, the third bowl in the Big 12 pecking order.
Coupled with Ohio State's win today, it seems likely that the Big 12 will only place one team --- the conference champion --- in the BCS. That means that the loser of that game as well as Kansas State and Texas will lock up the top three Big 12 contractual bowls --- the Cotton, the Holiday, and the Alamo.
The next three bowls --- the Tangerine, Independence and Houston --- will submit their top three choices to the Big 12 Conference office. The teams involved will also submit their favorite bowl choices and the conference offices will try to come up with some matches that make the most sense for all parties involved.
Because of this scenario, Iowa State, despite Saturday's debacle, is still in a favorable position. The fact that ISU fans travel so well is not lost on the bowl representatives.
"We are well aware of Iowa State's fan following," Tangerine Bowl rep Thomas said. "It would be great to see all those fans in Orlando on the 23rd (of December).
"It's a program that everybody is feeling really strongly about. They had great followings to two bowl games as well as to Kansas City for the Florida State game. There's hardly any doubt in our minds that Iowa State could use all 12,000 of their ticket allotment to our bowl game."
Another factor lurking in the background of the Tangerine Bowl scenario is the fact that the same group owns and operates the Capital One Bowl, also held in Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, on January 1. If the University of Iowa were to be shut out of a Rose Bowl bid, the Capital One Bowl would be the next choice.
"It would be great to see everyone in the state of Iowa turn out the lights, lock the door, and come on down to Florida for the whole week," Thomas said.
Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is open to any and all bowl possibilities.
"We'll go anywhere, anytime," he said. "Bruce (Cyclone A.D. Van De Velde) and I will work together with the Big 12 for the best possibility."
As for the players, senior captain Zach Butler summed it up.
"I'll play on a sand lot in Alaska if that's where it is," he said of possible bowl venues.
One thing is certain --- the Cyclones are going bowling. Now the only question is where. Thanks a temendous fan following as well as an interesting team, all of the potential bowl suitors are still interested in a visit from Iowa State. Be it Orlando, Houston or Boise, a fun experience is surely still in the offing for the Cardinal and Gold.