Colorado State (7-5) and Nevada (6-6) will play each other in the first-year Arizona Bowl, which was started to give the Mountain West and Conference USA another option for its teams.
But because Conference USA didn’t have enough teams to fill its spot, the Mountain West was left scrambling to find an opponent. Perhaps because the Arizona Bowl doesn’t have a national-TV deal, no outside team would take the spot.
Colorado State and Nevada didn’t play during the regular season.
The Mountain West had eight teams for six bowl spots. San Jose State (5-7) was placed in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla. That left Nevada with nowhere to go but the Arizona Bowl.
Commissioner Craig Thompson said the conference tried to find an alternative to the intra-conference bowl matchup but didn’t find any takers. He was upset that the Big Ten was able to place 5-7 teams Nebraska and Minnesota in Big Ten bowl games rather than having to wait until all 6-6 teams were placed. Three 5-7 teams — San Jose State was the other — were needed to fill the bowl slate this year.
Thompson released a lengthy, scathing statement about the situation that read, in part:
“Today, we have come to the unfortunate realization another dubious milestone has been reached — two teams from the same conference will face each other in a bowl game later this month. Neither of these developments is good for college football.
“It is a travesty the Mountain West has been forced into this situation. Clearly, the system is broken. There is an excess of bowl games due in part to a disparate allocation of openings vs. conference bowl histories. The result is teams with sub-.500 records participating in bowl games. There is consensus change is needed and this year’s outcome must not be repeated.’’
BOISE STATE MVP: SPERBECK
Junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck was named the Broncos’ MVP at the annual banquet Sunday. Sophomore tailback Jeremy McNichols was named offensive MVP and senior safety Darian Thompson was named defensive MVP.
Other winners: Mason Hampton (Academic Achievement), Justin Taimatuia (Valor), Tyler Horn (Plow Horse/Strength), Evan Tyler (Special Teams Scout), Ryan Wolpin (Offensive Scout), Marquis Hendrix (Defensive Scout), Darren Lee (Special Teams MVP), Marcus Henry (Outstanding Offensive Lineman) and Kamalei Correa (Outstanding Defensive Lineman).
SANFORD STRIKES AGAIN; WILCOX FIRED
▪ Former Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, now with Notre Dame, is going to his fifth straight major bowl game: Fiesta in 2015 (with Notre Dame), Fiesta in 2014 (with Boise State), Rose in 2012-13 (with Stanford) and Fiesta in 2011 (with Stanford).
▪ Former Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was fired from the same position at USC on Sunday, according to Los Angeles media reports. The Trojans finished the regular season 70th in total defense (401.3 yards allowed per game) and 57th in scoring defense (25.9 ppg).
Former Boise State quarterback Bush Hamdan, who has been Chris Petersen’s offensive quality-control assistant at Washington this season, takes over the receivers on an interim basis after Brent Pease was fired last week.
The Huskies are playing Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26.