Deprived of one of his conference tie-ins, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl executive director Brett Dulaney spent much of the weekend trying to nail down a Plan B.
The B turned out to stand for Bobcats.
Mid-American Conference staple Ohio University (7-5) was chosen Sunday as the at-large opponent for Conference USA's East Carolina (9-3) in the sixth edition of the contest, two weeks from today at Tropicana Field.
Both teams make their first appearance in the game, originally set to pit a C-USA team against an American Athletic Conference team. Problem was, the bowl was sixth in the American pecking order, and the league had only five bowl-eligible teams.
"We've always had a backup with the Sun Belt and MAC," Dulaney said Sunday. "We knew (East Carolina) had a good offense and travels well. They'll bring a lot of people down to the St. Petersburg area. Same thing with Ohio."
Other at-large candidates included Toledo (7-5), a choice that would have allowed the bowl to market the game as a homecoming for Lakewood High alumnus Bernard Reedy. A second-team all-MAC pick, Reedy's 840 receiving and 1,642 all-purpose yards led the Rockets.
But Dulaney said Ohio's sprawling Florida alumni base, which he has been told numbers approximately 3,000 members, helped get the Bobcats the nod. The average attendance for Ohio's seven home games was 20,671; Toledo's average for six home contests was 18,467.
"We just thought from an attendance standpoint and (Ohio) bringing down fans, it was a good decision for us," Dulaney said.