Monday, December 27, 2010
Did Arizona talk its way into Alamo Bowl?
By Ted Miller
It would seem that bowl invitations should be simple things: A bowl picks the best team available to it.
But, as we all know, they aren't.
This is an interesting story from Patrick Finley of the Arizona Daily Star on the lengths to which Arizona went to beat out Washington for an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Recall that (cough, cough) most projections, even at season's end, had the Huskies going to the Alamo Bowl, the Pac-10's No. 2 bowl after the BCS bowl selections, when Arizona finished the season with a four-game losing streak. While the Wildcats whipped the Huskies by 30 on Oct. 23 and owned a better overall record (7-5, vs. 6-6), Washington finished the season with a three-game winning streak and a better Pac-10 record (5-4 vs. 4-5).
Further, Washington hadn't been to a bowl game since 2002 and has long been considered one of the conference's best traveling teams in terms of fan support.
But, wrote Finley, it appears that the Huskies got outflanked by an aggressive campaign from Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne.
The Wildcats flirted; Washington did not.
The comfort level went a long way for the Alamo Bowl.
"It's an arranged marriage for a month," Alamo Bowl vice president Rick Hill said.
In the end, though, Arizona in the Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State and Washington in the Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska might be better arrangements for everyone.
Arizona played Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last year, so a rematch was unappealing for all parties. Huskies fans are eager to see their team back in any bowl game, and San Diego if a great winter destination. The financial difference between the two games is negligible (bowl payouts are split among all Pac-10 teams; the conference provides a slightly higher travel allowance for the Alamo Bowl).
Still, it's interesting to see that an aggressive campaign can sway sentiments when it comes to bowl selections.