The battle for Boise

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First off, if you’d like a Cliffs Notes version of the wild web of bowls seeking to snare Boise State – and this does matter if you’re a Maryland fan – go ahead and take a look at this story in the Idaho Statesman.

Now for the more extended version, thanks to a conversation this morning with Humanitarian Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald.

McDonald didn’t get back to me until this morning, but he has a pretty good reason. He and the bowl’s board of directors met until 7 p.m. Mountain time last night, and at that juncture you can imagine how surprised he was that he’d just spent 10 hours or so trying to figure out what was going to happen.

The big issue at stake is that the bowl wants to keep Boise State at home this year and try to swing a matchup with Ball State. The Broncos and their fans are also interested in a trip to San Diego to play a formidable Texas Christian team.

So if you’re the Humanitarian Bowl, which of the following two matchups do you ardently pursue with all your strength and will?:

* Boise State (12-0) vs. Ball State (12-0 PLUS Friday’s MAC title game with Buffalo)
* Maryland (7-5) or Wake Forest (7-5) or whoever from the ACC vs. Nevada (7-5)

I know which game I’d rather watch. And it’s not the one I would be going to Boise to cover.

(On the bright side, Boise State’s basketball team is in town at the glorious Taco Bell Arena the night before the Humanitarian Bowl. So at least there’d be some bonus basketball to be had for a trip to see a pair of 7-5 teams).

So no one can blame McDonald for trying to set up a potential battle of the unbeatens on the blue frozen faux sod. Except maybe Boise State, which would probably like to travel for the holidays.

“It’s almost set us up as the bad guy who’s trying to hold Boise State at home,” McDonald said. “It’s been kind of interesting.”

But for that to happen, he’s going to have to jump through A LOT of hoops, including…

* Getting Ball State to agree to come out and play at Boise State, which is something it doesn’t sound like Cardinals coach Brady Hoke is all that keen on.

* Having Ball State actually win the MAC title game; the whole idea is useless with a 12-1 Ball State team.

* Getting the WAC to get Boise State to agree to stay at home.

* Finding a place for an ACC team to go in place of its Boise tie-in; the MAC’s bowl agreements are with the Motor City (Detroit), International (Toronto) and GMAC (Mobile, Ala.) bowls, and it would make sense for one of those to be swapped.

* Getting an ACC team to agree to go to one of those bowls; the Humanitarian’s policy of including a set number of tickets in its payout – thus alleviating the pressure on a school to sell tickets for a game thousands of miles away – is one of its more appealing facets from a business standpoint.

McDonald said he anticipates the WAC squaring away its situation later in the week, possibly by Thursday or Friday. And while that battle of the BSUs could be difficult to set up, he knows he still has teams to choose from for an alternate matchup.

“If the Ball State thing doesn’t happen, I know myself and our board are really excited about the prospect of another ACC team coming,” McDonald said. “The fans in the Boise area like that as well. We feel either way we’re in good shape.”

Patrick Stevens

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