Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Laying Out the Holiday Options

During the offseason, Craig Thompson and the MWC brass had an opportunity to enhance the conference's bowl possibilities, as nearly all bowl contracts across the country expired last year, and negotiations were the order of the summer across the land.  With a number of higher payout bowls in the footprint available, we did a bowl primer and comprehensive review of the options and the best case scenario at the time  Given the possibilities, the outcome was somewhat disappointing, if not unexpected.

The MWC went from this (2009):
Las Vegas                       MWC #1 vs Pac 10 #4/5  $1.1M   Dec 22
Poinsettia (San Diego)      MWC #2 vs Pac 10 #6    $750K   Dec 23
Armed Forces (Ft Worth) MWC vs CUSA               $600K   Dec 31
Humanitarian (Boise)         MWC vs WAC               $750K   Dec 30
New Mexico (Albuq.)        MWC vs WAC                $750K   Dec 19

To this (2010):
Las Vegas                         MWC #1 vs Pac 10 #5    $1.1M   Dec 22
Poinsettia (San Diego)       MWC #2 vs Navy            $750K   Dec 23
Independence (Shreveport) MWC #3 vs ACC #7     $1.1M   Dec 27
Armed Forces (Ft Worth)  MWC vs CUSA              $600K   Dec 30
New Mexico (Albuq.)         MWC vs WAC                $750K   Dec 18

The replacement of the Humanitarian Bowl with the Independence bowl is definitely an upgrade, but given what was on the table (Holiday, Sun, Insight), overall it feels like a loss.  The Vegas bowl dropped from the PAC 10 #4/5 to #5 going forward.  The Poinestta Bowl dropped the PAC 10 and has a contract with Navy/WAC going forward.  The Independence Bowl is a nice pick up date-wise, payout wise, and opponent-wise, but is in a terrible location for fans to get there (except TCU).  Overall, the conference was not able to improve its slate in any meaningful way.

So, Projections...
BCS--TCU (only one game left... vs New Mexico)
Vegas--winner of BYU-Utah if Utah loses to SDSU (Vegas would love a ranked Utah, but wouldn't mind one last dance with BYU)
Poinsettia--San Diego State (dream matchup for city)
Independence--Air Force (base nearby)
Armed Forces--Loser of BYU-Utah if Utah loses to SDSU (already had Air Force last two years)
New Mexico--MWC will not fill slot

Interestingly, this weekend's Utah-SDSU game will not have any meaningful influence on SDSU's bowl destination, as the Aztecs seem essentially locked in at this point to the hometown bowl, and even if Utah loses this weekend, but beats BYU, they would likely be headed to Vegas.  And, should Utah win this weekend, but lose to BYU, it is possible the bowl would take one last crack at a 7-5 BYU on a 5 game winning streak and sell out the stadium, over a 9-3 Utah having lost 3 out of its last 4, including to its rival, and risk an empty stadium.  If it were down to a 7-5 BYU or an 8-4 Utah, Vegas takes the Cougs.

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