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Horned Frogs stay home for bowl

12/2/2003 - TCU Horned Frogs

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.