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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE #16

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Dear Friends of the Fight Hunger Bowl,

This is the craziest week of the year in the bowl business. Selection Sunday is only four days away, which means that bowl directors, conference officials, athletic directors and TV executives are in constant communication regarding team selection for the 35 bowl games on this year's schedule. With 77 teams now bowl-eligible (and three more with the potential to qualify this weekend), at least 7 teams will be left at home. So some intense lobbying is going on. Conferences are hoping to find a "home" for all of their bowl-eligible schools. Athletic directors are looking to secure the best possible bid for their teams; those whose teams are on the bubble are doing everything possible to find a landing spot. Bowl directors are trying to determine which teams will sell the most tickets, fill the most hotel rooms, and attract the most TV eyeballs. 

Everything comes to a boil this weekend, beginning with the conference championship games on Friday (Mid-American) and Saturday(Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA). The final BCS rankings will be released Sunday about noon Pacific time. The top two teams in the rankings will be slotted for the BCS championship game, and the remaining BCS bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange) will make their selections. Once those are completed--at roughly 1:00 or 1:30 pm Pacific time--the rest of the bowls start making their picks.

BYU:  As you know, we were fortunate to be able to fill one of our slots several weeks ago. BYU finished its season last Saturday in Reno, coming from behind to beat Nevada 28-23 and notch win No. 8. We're very proud and excited to have an 8-4 team and a program of BYU's stature in our game. The Cougars' high-scoring offense is led by an emerging star, Taysom Hill, at quarterback, along with record-setting receiver Cody Hoffman and running back Jamaal Williams. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Kyle Van Noy leads a stout defense that has kept BYU in every game. BYU senior associate athletic director Brian Santiago and director of football operations Duane Busby were here Monday and Tuesday for their site visit to check out the game venue (AT&T Park), practice facilities (Laney College), team hotel (Westin St. Francis), and transportation arrangements (Horizon Coach Lines). Everything went very smoothly, and we're all looking forward to the arrival of the Cougars' traveling party on Dec. 22.

Pac-12:  Last weekend's results clarified some things in the conference pecking order. ASU beat Arizona to clinch home field in the conference championship game. The Sun Devils, champions of the 2012 Fight Hunger Bowl, will host Stanford on Saturday evening with the winner going to the Rose Bowl. In other games last week, Oregon edged Oregon State in the Civil War, while UCLA won the battle of Los Angeles over USC. Ryan Oppelt, our asst. executive director, was in Seattle to watch the Apple Cup matchup between Washington and WSU. Ryan had the opportunity to chat with head coaches Mike Leach and Steve Sarkisian, and Athletic Directors Scott Woodward (Washington) and Bill Moos (WSU) about the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Huskies came from behind to win, 27-17.

Although things could change this weekend if Northern Illinois loses in the MAC championship game (thereby opening up a BCS bowl bid), or if one of our Pac-12 colleagues makes a surprising selection, we anticipate that Washington (8-4, 5-4), Arizona (7-5, 4-5) and Washington State (6-6, 4-5) will most likely be the teams that are available to us. All three schools are very appealing, as noted in previous updates, and we'd be honored to invite any of them to San Francisco. Our evaluation will be based on a number of factors, among them: overall record, conference record, head-too-head competition, fan base (do they travel well?), local alumni, results of Bay Area appearances vs. Stanford or Cal this season; recent bowl history; offensive capability; and presence of high-profile players.

Most of the college football pundits have predicted that Washington will be in our game, and the Huskies definitely are of great interest to us. Stay tuned. We will announce BYU's opponent on Sunday afternoon.

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