The entire bowl picture played out very well for the Big East. We were able to fill all of our slots thanks to a late push by Rutgers. The Gator Bowl took Nebraska which means that next year they'll be forced to take a Big East/Notre Dame team. Luckily for us ND will be worse off than last year and probably won't be able to supplant a Big East team from the Gator Bowl. Speaking of Notre Dame, they'll be going down to the Hawaii bowl to get slaughtered. Hawaii handled Cincy pretty well until the 4th quarter and I'm pretty sure that Cincy would dominate Notre Dame if they played right now.
Moving on to Pitt, there are some things I like and some things I dislike about our bowl.
We're playing on a New Years Eve bowl. It is always great the later you play your bowl game (except maybe the international bowl) because usually then that bowl has more coverage, more prestige, and more $$$. The Sun Bowl is obviously no exception to this. It is highly regarded as one of the top non-BCS bowls available.
Another great thing about this bowl is that it has a great base of fans in El Paso. This is perfect for a team like Pitt that doesn't travel as well as other schools. Since we're more of a watch it at home fan base, we will be able to provide big TV ratings for the bowl which is what they are looking for.
Another benefit is that we're going to be playing an opponent from one of the BCS conferences. I don't think many people would have cared to see us play a non-BCS type of opponent unless it was a Boise State or BYU type of team and frankly, there aren't too many of those teams out there.
The last great thing about this is that for the first time in the Wannstedt Era, the team will be able to continue to practice all throughout December. We've lost out on valuable practice time the last 3 years by not being able to practice due to not getting a bowl. Now we are able to get the extra practice time which will be extremely valuable for our younger guys who will need to be ready for next year.
I'm going to be a bit selfish on this one. The mens bball team plays on the same exact day and the same exact time. While I am just a Pitt fan (I like football and bball equally) I hate having to miss the game. Pitt has already announced that they will not try and get the game time changed so for the people at home, I hope you have 2 tv's ready to go. To the fans who are going to either game, well, I guess that we're going to be the ones losing out.
Oregon State. After they beat USC they looked like a dominant team that everyone in the country should be scared of. That faded quickly and we saw that the PAC-10 is basically a 1 team conference in USC. Oregon spanked Oregon State at State and really showed that the Beavers are no where close to being that team that upset the Trojans (nice catch) just a few months ago. Another problem with OSU is that we've already played them in a Bowl game not too long ago. One of the great things about bowl games is that you get a chance to play teams you normally don't play. I wish we would have been picked with another team that we haven't played yet this decade. I love playing different teams so going up against OSU is really just a bit of a disappointment for me.
El Paso. Before you get mad at me on this one, I'm not knocking the city (although I should bash Juarez, Mexico). The reason I dislike El Paso is that it is almost virtually impossible for the students to get to the game. Train and bus tickets are outrageous and it would be a terribly long and uncomfortable trip. So the only real option is flying. If there is one thing I know about students, it is that we have hundreds of dollars just sitting around waiting to be spent. It is great that the Athletics Department is making tickets for students free. What is not great is that there aren't any decent travel packages available for students.
The alumni association has put together a package for the small price of $1500. Really? Who can afford to pay for that? I will find a way to this game whether it's begging my parents and family or through little odd jobs to pay the nice chunk of change that it takes to get a round trip flight with 16 layovers and 4 red eyes to get to the game but I will be there. I just really wish we would have had better travel options that weren't so expensive for our fans. This is just like the Fiesta Bowl. There are tons of students who want to go desperately, however the fact remains that they just don't have the money to go which is never good for our school.
Again, don't forget to stop by the Oakland Zoo's website and help them raise money for needy families this holiday season.