PULLMAN, Wash. — Officials representing Washington State University and the Sun Bowl made the Cougars’ post-season football bowl game official Tuesday, hours after WSU was released from BCS bowl consideration.
WSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk announced the Cougars have officially accepted the Sun Bowl’s pairing of WSU against a yet-to-be named team from the Big Ten Conference. Among the Big Ten teams in contention for the Sun Bowl is Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Penn State.
The 68th Annual Wells Fargo Sun Bowl is Monday, Dec. 31 at 12:15 p.m. (MST). CBS Sports will broadcast the game for the 34th consecutive year.
Mike Price, who Monday was named the Pac-10’s Coach of the Year, will be taking his fourth Cougar team to a bowl game. In 1992 he guided WSU to the Copper Bowl in Tucson, Arizona, and two years later had his club playing in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. In 1997 WSU won the Pac-10 title and met Michigan in the 1998 Rose Bowl. No other WSU coach has been to more than one post-season bowl game.
“In each of our programs we want to compete nationally year in and year out and obviously football and volleyball (NCAA tournament) are leading the way this fall,” offered Sterk. “We are excited about the invitation from the Sun Bowl. It was their choice to pick Washington State and we appreciate the fact they wanted the Cougars. In talking with Tom Hansen (Commissioner of the Pacific-10), the relationship between the Pac-10 and the Sun Bowl go back to 1977. It is a long relationship and the Sun Bowl does it right and does it best when it comes to hosting a bowl game. The game provides WSU with national exposure through the Sun Bowl’s agreement with CBS television and the attractiveness of a Pac-10-Big Ten match-up.”
“I have been playing the country western song El Paso by Marty Robbins since last week,” Price said. “I have become a country western music fan. We are tickled to death to be representing the Pacific-10 Conference in the Sun Bowl and I know WSU fans are going to have way too much fun bowling with the Cougars. From what everyone tells me, the Sun Bowl folks do one of the best jobs in America of hosting the teams. We are looking forward to a little southwestern culture.”
WSU will immediately begin selling its allocation of 8,000 Sun Bowl tickets, according to Brady Crook, WSU associate athletic director. Fans may purchase tickets by accessing Washington State University’s web site at bowlgame.wsu.edu, or by calling toll free, 1-800-GO-COUGS.
“We are confident we can meet the needs of all our fans,” Crook stressed. “We have about 1,000 tickets inside the 40 yard line at $45 and $55, and 7,000 tickets between the goal line and the 35 yard line priced at $35. Based on the number of Web site hits and messages we have already received, our fans are excited about going to our bowl game.”
Crook also outlined Tuesday WSU’s newly developed priority point system that was created at Sterk’s direction.
“We developed a priority point system that will be applied to allocate both the quantity and quality of tickets,” Crook explained. “While we should be able to meet the needs of all of our fans for the Sun Bowl, the priority point system will be utilized to determine the location of an individual’s tickets for this bowl game,” he added.
“In future post-season events and special events like Pac-10 basketball tournaments, the Ohio State football game next fall and the Notre Dame game in 2003, where we have a limited number of tickets available for sale, we plan to use the priority point system to allocate both the quantity of tickets and their location,” Crook continued. “The priority point system is made up of 13 categories, including fiscal year ’01 and ’02 scholarship giving, season ticket holders, gifts and pledges to the Indoor Practice Facility, other donations to athletics, lifetime giving to athletics, and giving to WSU that is non-athletic in nature.”
WSU has set a deadline of Dec. 7 for priority orders, according to Crook. “The Dec. 7 date allows us to implement the priority system, assemble ticket packets and deliver them into our fans hands. We will still accept orders after Dec. 7, but we will not be able to prioritize orders after that date.”
“There must be a systematic system when allocating tickets and that is what we have tried to accomplish with this plan,” said Sterk. “Our goal is to sell all 8,000 tickets to Cougar fans and that is important, not only from the Sun Bowl’s position, but for us when it comes to future bowl game consideration.”
WSU has contracted with Dodds Tours to provide bowl packages for Cougar fans, according to Crook. “Dodds Tours will have packages from both Spokane and Seattle, which will include game tickets, air transportation and hotel accommodations. Fans can access their site and choose their package at www.doddsontravel.com.”
Sterk explained that while the Sun Bowl guarantee is one million dollars, WSU does not receive that money.
“All of the money goes to the Pac-10,” according to Sterk “We submit a budget to the conference office and that budget, once approved, comes out of the bowl revenue the conference receives from all of the bowls that have an agreement with the Pac-10 and where Pac-10 teams compete.”
Price has indicated WSU will begin practice next week and hold about 18 workouts prior to the bowl game Dec. 31.
“We will begin practicing Dec. 6 and hold practices each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” explained Price. “That allows our coaches to recruit for the next couple of weeks. Then we’ll probably practice just about every day during finals week (Dec. 15-21). We want to have about 18 or 19 practices, maybe 11 of them before we arrive in El Paso.”