Horned Frogs stay home for bowl
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU is staying home to play its bowl game.
The 19th-ranked Horned Frogs (11-1), who turned down an invitation from the GMAC Bowl because it conflicts with final exams at the school, accepted an invitation Monday night to play in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl.
No. 18 Boise State (11-1), the WAC champion, accepted a conditional bid Tuesday to play in the Dec. 23 bowl on TCU's campus.
Boise State will play in the game if the Big 12 gets two teams in the Bowl Championship Series, as expected, and doesn't have an eligible team for Fort Worth.
Before losing 40-28 at Southern Mississippi on Nov. 20, TCU was undefeated and eighth in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.
TCU athletic director Eric Hyman said that about three weeks before the Southern Miss game, the school's provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, William Koehler, had approached him and said the team couldn't play a bowl during exams.
Hyman said he expressed those concerns to Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, who then told bowl officials about the potential conflict.
Two of the five bowls with C-USA ties, New Orleans (Dec. 16) and GMAC (Dec. 18), fell during TCU's exams from Dec. 15-19.
Despite its preference, TCU was formally invited to the GMAC Bowl on Saturday night after winning its regular season finale 20-13 at SMU. Hyman declined the offer the next day.
"It was probably the toughest five days in my professional career," Hyman said. "Our athletes were in harm's way and caught in the politics that were going on."
Hyman said Banowsky and Koehler even discussed the matter with GMAC officials during a conference call Friday, a day before the invitation was extended. TCU officials offered a compromise, saying it would come to Mobile, Ala., the day before the game, but bowl officials wanted them there Dec. 13.
"It was an institutional decision, and I supported the decision," Hyman said. "There was no maneuvering. This was not Eric Hyman or (coach) Gary Patterson trying to get out of the game. It was a pure academic issue."
GMAC got the second pick from C-USA. League champion Southern Mississippi is going to the Liberty Bowl.
After TCU turned them down, GMAC officials considered going outside C-USA before Louisville was invited and accepted to play Miami of Ohio (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) of the Mid-American Conference. The Frogs could have been left without a bowl game had the GMAC taken a team from outside C-USA.
As for TCU's opponent in the Fort Worth Bowl, the Big 12 won't be able to provide a team for the game if the league gets two teams in the BCS as expected. Air Force, Boise State and Connecticut are possible non-Big 12 teams.
Patterson said he is excited about playing in the Fort Worth Bowl, and looked forward to playing another game at home.
"It's special to be part of the place that has helped us get where we're at," the coach said. "Our group is a humble group. There is no such thing as a bad bowl game."
TCU will make its record sixth straight bowl appearance. The Frogs played in the first two bowls in Mobile, Ala., in 1999 and 2000 when the game didn't conflict with exams.
The other C-USA bowl matchups are Southern Miss against Mountain West champ Utah in the Liberty Bowl, Houston against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, and Memphis against North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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