Here comes the Sun: Bulls off to El Paso
The Sun Bowl's selection committee voted Monday night to extend a formal invitation today to USF, which will play in the Dec. 31 game in El Paso, Texas.
"It was a heated conversation, but at the end of the day, our guys voted with their hearts and we came out with USF," said John Folmer, president of the selection committee. "A lot had to do with the way USF played early, how highly they were ranked. They're a great story, a team that beat a great Auburn team, beat a West Virginia team that's probably going to play for the national title."
USF has scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference for Tuesday afternoon. Sun Bowl officials had said they expected to choose the Big East team ranked highest in the BCS standings, and USF came in Sunday at No. 21, two spots ahead of Cincinnati. The Bearcats beat the Bulls 38-33 in Tampa, but Folmer said there were enough other factors in USF's favor to overcome that.
"That was the hardest thing," he said. "They did lose to Cincinnati, but you also have to consider the teams Cincinnati lost to."
And believe it or not, an online poll on the Sun Bowl's web site asking fans who they wanted in El Paso was discussed in the selection committee meeting. About 87 percent of 13,000-plus voters chose USF, a huge majority that Folmer called "incredible." Told of the wide margin before entering the meeting, he had to check with his "computer guy" to make sure the poll hadn't been compromised.
The Bulls will have a national CBS audience for their third bowl game, which will also feature a Pac-10 team to be determined next week, likely Oregon or UCLA. The Sun Bowl is the Big East's top bowl next to its automatic BCS berth, and USF will get a check for $1.5-million from the Big East for playing in El Paso.