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MailTribune.com
  • Oregon State AD De Carolis still unsure about bowl situation

  • CORVALLIS — Jerry Palm has been doing bowl projections professionally for 16 years, but even one of the BCS experts admits he's right only about "75 percent of the time." And this time of year, as most teams wait to hear their bowl fate, Palm says you can't believe everything you read.
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  • CORVALLIS — Jerry Palm has been doing bowl projections professionally for 16 years, but even one of the BCS experts admits he's right only about "75 percent of the time." And this time of year, as most teams wait to hear their bowl fate, Palm says you can't believe everything you read.
    Nonetheless, Palm has Oregon State going to Shreveport, La., to play in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 31, figuring the Beavers will miss out on one of seven Pac-12 affiliated bowls and need an at-large bid.
    Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis, however, isn't ready to book flights just yet.
    "The bowl situation is quite the mess," De Carolis told The Oregonian. "Obviously there are going to be two (Pac-12) teams on the outside looking in, and we're probably one of them."
    Teams will find out Sunday where they're headed for the holidays (if anywhere) once BCS games are set. In Palm's latest projection for CBSSports.com, he has Washington State, which also posted an overall record of 6-6 and 4-5 in conference, missing out on a bowl game. He reasons that the Cougars' don't have a fan base known for traveling, though it might not be their fault: WSU hasn't been bowl eligible for 10 years.
    De Carolis disagrees.
    "We don't know this for sure, but I would guess Washington State would get a bid because they haven't been in a bowl game since (2003), so there's pent up emotion in their fan base," De Carolis said. "They finished pretty strong, and they're going to buy tickets and go wherever."
    Palm projects there will be four major conference teams vying for the last three bowl slots. He thinks Oregon State, Washington State, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be considered for the Independence Bowl, The Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1) and the Little Caesars Bowl (Dec. 26 in Detroit). Palm acknowledged that Arizona, which also finished 4-5 in conference but does have a 7-5 overall record, could be one of the four teams without a home if Washington State winds up in the New Mexico Bowl. Pitt and Syracuse are likely out of contention for the Independence Bowl because it already has one ACC team.
    "It's all about who's going to travel," Palm said. "It's not about the quality of the team — and to be honest, there's not much separation between the four. It's about ticket sales. And it could come down to which athletic director can sell their team the best."
    In Pullman, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos seems to be moving aggressively to get the Cougars into a bowl game, and a story in Wednesday's Spokesman Review implied Moos might be willing to buy more tickets than schools are contractually obligated to do. But while De Carolis believes the Beavers are deserving of a bowl, he said he will not get into a bidding war for one.
    And by his reasoning, maybe he won't have to: Despite a five-game losing streak to end the season, De Carolis thinks the Beavers remain an attractive option.
    "We played a very good Oregon team to almost a standstill, we've got one of the top passing duos in the country, we play an exciting brand of football "¦ I think we'd put on a good show."
    As for whether fans will travel to watch this Oregon State team, well, De Carolis says he doesn't know.
    "Tickets are going to get sold whether we buy them, eat them or whatever," he said, adding that the Pac-12 could help pay for some of the unsold tickets. "But how many bodies are you going to have in the stands so the television production looks good? That's really the question. I can't answer that."
    In the week between the end of OSU's regular season and Sunday's bowl announcements, De Carolis said the athletic department has reached out to some donors to get a sense of whether they'd travel to a bowl, and that they've received "mixed reviews."
    "Let's call it what it is," he said. "After the Washington game, everybody was totally depressed, and rightfully so "¦ I think there was some hope after the Oregon game. Yeah, we didn't win the game, but we were right there and played well for the most part. I think that gave some good vibes to part of the fan base, but it didn't get everybody."
    Oregon State fans have a history of traveling well, which could help the Beavers make their case. De Carolis said OSU and Pac-12 officials have talked to a number of non-Pac-12 affiliated bowls about this and other things. The Pac-12, of course, wants all of its nine bowl-eligible teams to find a home.
    Palm and De Carolis believe two other factors could come into play: Notre Dame and college basketball schedules.
    Palm has projected that Notre Dame will play in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28, but some reports indicate the Irish are exploring warmer-weather possibilities.
    "It gets complicated because everybody in the bowl business, it seems like they're sitting on the sideline waiting to see what Notre Dame is going to do," De Carolis said. "I think once that domino falls, then you'll see some action."
    Palm thinks bowl reps will be looking at school's basketball schedules, too.
    Syracuse, Palm points out, is a basketball school. So if the Orange have a home basketball game the day before a far-away bowl game, are many fans really going to show up in, say, Detroit?
    Mike Riley stated emphatically that he believes someone wants the Beavers in a bowl game, and spoke last week to the importance of those extra 15 practices. De Carolis said the goal will be for OSU to not lose any money going to the postseason; but, he added, even if he crunched the numbers and realized OSU would not break even on the game, the school would not turn down a bid.
    "We're going to go," De Carolis said. "We'll figure out how we can afford it, what we'd have to cut out and what we'd have to do differently. We would have to get creative, but there are ways to do that."
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