Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Grumbling over Marshall bid

Motor City Bowl may bar future 7-5 MAC champs

The Associated Press

        PONTIAC, Mich. — There's grumbling over the Mid-American Conference's entry in the Motor City Bowl — Marshall — and the teams that didn't make it — Western Michigan and Toledo.

        Marshall (7-5) won the MAC slot with a 19-14 victory over Western Michigan (9-3) in Saturday's conference championship game.

        The Thundering Herd play Conference USA runner-up Cincinnati (7-4) on Dec. 27 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

        Neither Western nor No. 25 Toledo (10-1) will make a bowl appearance this season.

        Soon after the MAC title game, conference commissioner Rick Chryst met with Motor City Bowl executives George Perles and Ken Hoffman. They tentatively agreed to change the selection rules for future games, the Detroit Free Press reported.

        Under the new rules, the MAC's Motor City Bowl participant would have to have a minimum of eight victories. Also, the MAC champion would not be selected if another team has two more wins or two fewer defeats, the newspaper said.

        Asked about the report, Chryst said nothing is fixed regarding a change to the MAC's Motor City Bowl tie-in.

        “That's speculation,” he told the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail. “I know the substance of our conversations, and that's what they are right now ... conversations.

        “It was a meeting. Certainly any action of formalized change of the contract goes through our council of (league) presidents.

        “It may have been reported as a preliminary agreement, but that's not the case. But I thought we had a good discussion about our selection process and mutual areas of concern.”

        Marshall is making its fourth straight appearance in the game, going 2-1 in its first three contests.

        Western Michigan and Toledo, both within a couple of hours of the Silverdome, would have been expected to generate more ticket sales than the Thundering Herd, whose fans face an eight-hour drive from Huntington, W.Va.

        “Our players want to come back to the Motor City Bowl, and the Herd will bring people with them,” Marshall coach Bobby Pruett said after Saturday's title game. “We're excited because it's a great bowl.

        “I know you people were worried,” he added with a nod to bowl officials, “but I promise you, we'll bring a crowd — even if I have to grab a bus and haul their butts up there.”

        One answer to the bowl dilemma would be to find a second bowl tie-in for the MAC, one of the weaker conferences in NCAA Division I-A.

        “Our regular season and our championship need to have meaning,” Chryst said. “All this gets magnified when you only have one bowl game in your lineup.”

        Pruett said he is confident Chryst will secure the MAC a second bowl tie-in by next season.

        “That would make it a moot point,” he said.


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