- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

San Diego already has the largest contingent of Navy and Marine Corps personnel in the country, and the city is going to welcome even more in a month.

Navy accepted an invitation yesterday to play in the inaugural Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 22. It will be the third consecutive bowl appearance for the Midshipmen — a first in the program’s history.

“That is a lot of history and a lot of tradition, so it is a special deal for everybody,” coach Paul Johnson said.

The Mids (6-4) have long been targeted by the bowl’s selection committee to fill its at-large spot because of the Naval and Marine Corps presence in San Diego. Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk set yesterday as a deadline for deciding on a postseason destination in order for the players to know where they are going and also to be able to concentrate on the Army game Dec.3. Gladchuk said he talked to representatives from three bowls yesterday.

The commitment by the Mids goes beyond this season. Gladchuk said the Poinsettia Bowl representatives offered a spot in the 2005 game as well as a guaranteed option in 2008, 2009 or 2010.

He also said Navy’s opponent most likely will be Colorado State, but there is a slim chance it could be Utah. Both schools won their sixth game Saturday. The Mids have never played either school.

For the Mids and in particular, a small senior class that has dealt with unfair comparisons to the previous group, the bowl bid provides some vindication.

“I think this is great,” senior quarterback Lamar Owens said. “Even now we still hear about the guys from last year. Midway through the season people were still talking about how we lost so many seniors when we were 4-2, and they were still comparing us to last year. This bowl game in San Diego is going to be an opportunity to show how far Navy football has come.”

The trip also could provide a glimpse of a future home for some of the players. Defensive end Jeremy Chase and slotback Marco Nelson are two that want to be stationed in the city after graduation.

“It is going to nice to see what the city is like,” Chase said. “We are going to have so much support there. Besides playing here at the academy, that is probably one of the best places to play.”

Navy also played in the inaugural Holiday Bowl in 1978, collecting a 23-16 win against Brigham Young.

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