Mountain West unveils bowl alignment for 2014-19

By Brian Murphy
bmurphy@idahostatesman.com

The Mountain West announced its bowl agreements for the six-year cycle beginning after the 2014 regular season, adding flexibility and diversity to its postseason alignment. The 12-team league, which includes Boise State, is finalizing agreements with eight bowl games that will give it six or seven postseason opportunities each season.

The Mountain West has primary deals with the:

• Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas (vs. Big Ten);

• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise;

• Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque;

• R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl;

• Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (first choice);

• San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl;

• Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu

And a secondary agreement with the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

The league could also send a team to the new College Football Playoff. The highest-rated conference champion among the Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference and American Athletic Conference, as determined by a new 13-member committee, will earn a spot in one of six College Football Playoff games.

The Mountain West will play in the Armed Forces Bowl twice in the six-year cycle. It will play in the Las Vegas five times and Hawaii five times. It will play in the other games, including Boise’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, each year from 2014-19.

The Las Vegas bowl will have the first choice. After that, the league and bowls will work together to determine which team plays in which game.

The Mountain West will also work to fill slots in eight other ESPN Regional Television-owned games.

“We are excited about this new bowl model,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson in a statement. “The flexibility it offers helps maximize the best interests of our member institutions, coaches, student-athletes, fans and bowl partners.”

Mountain West announcement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Mountain West Conference announced today its bowl agreements for the next six-year cycle, unveiling a creative approach to the postseason which coincides with the implementation of the new College Football Playoff (CFP).

The number of appearances for the Mountain West will be driven by on-the-field performance, starting with the opportunity to play in the national semifinals or another New Year’s bowl game as part of the new CFP arrangement. The highest-rated champion from among the five non-contracted conferences is guaranteed a slot in the system, and in the 14 seasons since its inception, the Mountain West’s champion or a current MW member has secured that position 11 times, placing teams in the Fiesta (2), Rose and Sugar (2) Bowls during that period.

The MW is also finalizing agreements with eight (8) different bowl games that in any given year will generate six (6) or seven (7) postseason opportunities for its member institutions. These include primary positions in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl – and a secondary position with the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

After a first selection by the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, where the MW will face a team from the Pac-12 each season, the Mountain West will collaborate with its bowl partners to determine the annual placement of teams, with an emphasis on geographic proximity, avoiding repeat trips by any one institution and creation of the most compelling match-ups for each market. In two years during the cycle, the MW will rotate a team into the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to take on a Big Ten opponent – opening up the Las Vegas Bowl one year and the Hawai‘i Bowl in another.

The Mountain West has contracted with the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to replace either the Big 12 or Pac-12 in the event one of those conferences does not place a team in any year during the cycle. In addition, the MW will work in concert with several other conferences and ESPN Regional Television (ERT) to fill and/or back-up slots in a cross-section of eight (8) other bowl games nationally.

“We are excited about this new bowl model,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. “The flexibility it offers helps maximize the best interests of our member institutions, coaches, student-athletes, fans and bowl partners.”

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl announcement

Mountain West Signs Six-Year Deal with Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Newest ESPN bowl solidifies conference participation

BOISE, Idaho – The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (FIPB) and ESPN Regional Television (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, announced today an extension with the Mountain West Conference (MW). The 12-member league has agreed to a six-year contract providing a bowl-eligible team to the FIPB for the 2014-19 bowl seasons.

“We are thrilled with the addition of the six-year agreement and know it will be great for our bowl game, the community, the teams and their fans,” said Kevin McDonald, executive director of the bowl. “This year’s game marks our first with the Mountain West and we are excited to extend our opportunity to be a part of the league.”

In its 17th year, the nation’s longest-running outdoor cold-weather bowl has the No. 6 MW selection for this season’s game. During the ensuing six-year term, the FIPB will collaborate with the MW and its other bowl partners to determine the annual placement of the teams, with an emphasis on geographic proximity and creation of the best possible match-ups for each market.

Originally announced as a one-year agreement in December 2012, the MW replaces the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for the 2013 FIPB. With the newest agreement announced today, participation by the MW has added six years to the original contract. The MW will face a high-selection team from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in future seasons.

“Some of our newest Mountain West members have played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and have had a tremendous experience,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. “We look forward to other Mountain West teams having that opportunity and we are pleased to expand our initial agreement to a long-term relationship. The Boise market and Bronco Stadium are important components in the Mountain West infrastructure and to have an annual bowl game in that venue is valuable for the Conference.”

The FIPB will hold its 2013 game, Saturday, Dec. 21, at 3:30 p.m. MST at Bronco Stadium in Boise. The game will be aired on ESPN HD and ESPN Radio as the third bowl game of the season.

Sports columnist Brian Murphy writes about all sports in the Treasure Valley with a concentration on Boise State football and men's basketball. Murph has been with the Statesman since 2005. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphsTurph.

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