The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS - Cincinnati coach Rick Minter is happy that his Bearcats will be playing North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl next week. But he would rather be in Memphis.
UC, which tied TCU for the Conference USA championship and defeated the Horned Frogs, was passed over by the Liberty Bowl, which had the first choice of Conference USA bowl teams.
The Bearcats wound up in the New Orleans Bowl, which had the fifth and final selection.
"We feel good about coming to the New Orleans Bowl, have no doubt about it," Minter said Monday during a visit to New Orleans. "But we felt that we deserved to get to play in the championship game as designated by our conference.
"I can't say that the way our league handles its bowl business is one of our more admirable qualities. I do not agree with the system, and hopefully it will be changed."
Minter said that aside from the prestige of the Liberty Bowl, his principal problem with being in the New Orleans Bowl is the Dec. 17 date. That comes only 11 days after the Bearcats' final regular-season game, a 42-26 victory against East Carolina last Friday that made the Bearcats eligible for a bowl.
Playing again so soon deprives UC of the extra practice time most bowl teams receive. Because the Bearcats played on the road last Friday and arrive in New Orleans this Friday, two weekends when recruits would normally be on campus were wiped out.
If not picked for the Liberty Bowl, Minter said, it would have been more logical for UC to have played in the Dec. 27 Houston Bowl.
But Minter added: "New Orleans is a great place to come to."
North Texas repeated as Sun Belt Conference champion and is making its second straight New Orleans Bowl appearance. Coach Darrell Dickey said he did not know if the time off has helped his team. North Texas ended its regular season Nov. 30.
"We won six straight games, so you hate to break that momentum," hed said. "Sometimes when you get that layoff, it can get you out of sync, and they're (opponents) still going to be in their routine."
North Texas also arrives in New Orleans on Friday.
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