It's all but official. The UTEP Miners will play their longtime WAC rivals the BYU Cougars in the New Mexico Bowl slated for December 18. Kickoff is at noon and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN. The announcement will be made officially at a press conference at 1 p.m. MST today. Duke Keith will provide Miner fans with a live stream of the press conference.
Darren Hunt of KVIA.com broke the story two days ago. Today, Bret Bloomquist has the money quote from UTEP Athletic Director Bob Stull on the announcement:
"It's looking that way," Stull said of the Dec. 18 bowl game in Albuquerque. "There are some things that have to be done. If I was a betting man, that's the direction I'd go."
Stull has made it no secret that from the very beginning that he wanted UTEP to play in the New Mexico Bowl as opposed to the New Orleans Bowl. From UTEP's perspective, it's a no- brainer. "Miner Orangeville" day may have been a few weeks back, but now December 18, 2010 will be the biggest day in UTEP athletics in years.
Yesterday on his blog, Bloomquist alluded to the obvious: That UTEP AD Bob Stull is the reason why UTEP is not headed to New Orleans. What'd it take? Did Stull call in some favors? Send a box of Cubans? A case of Presidente?
This was no easy task. The Conference USA and the WAC had to agree to a trade that now seems likely to send Fresno State or another WAC team to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Both bowl committee's had to agree to the swap.
Oh, and did we mention that Stull also found the time this week to get UTEP basketball coach Tim Floyd to sign a five year deal? What else does Stull do for El Paso and UTEP? Does he put on a cape at night and keep the drug war from spilling over from across the border? Is Chico's Tacos merely borrowing his recipe for their tacos? Did he fix the tramway? The man's a giant. And, UTEP is very lucky to have him.
At noon, the Miners football team will play in their first bowl game, on national television, since 2005. Later that evening, the UTEP mens basketball team will host the Big 12's Texas Tech Red Raiders, a game in which the Miners should be favored to win.
The New Orleans Bowl would have been great for the team and as a Miner fan it's hard to be picky when it comes to bowls. But, now two signature UTEP athletic events won't occur at the same time. Fans in El Paso won't have to choose whether to go to the Don or stay home and see if UTEP can get their first bowl win under Mike Price. Is it theoretically possible for Miner fans to watch the football team in Albuquerque and travel back to El Paso and catch most of the basketball game live. December 18 is truly Miner Orangeville Day.
Oh, and check this out. One BYU fan thinks UTEP is "lucky to be" in the New Mexico Bowl and sees a 45-17 victoryalready. Did I forget to mention that five days after the New Mexico Bowl, the Miners head to Utah to take on the Cougars in hoops? What a week to look forward to.