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Benson proud that WAC has 5 bowl teams

Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor

For the first time since 1992, the WAC will have teams in five bowl games, a feat that WAC commissioner Karl Benson is extremely proud of.

The WAC had six bowl-eligible teams for the first time since 1998. San Jose State, 6-6, did not get an invitation to a bowl game.

Fresno State plays Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 20, Boise State faces TCU on Dec. 23 in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Hawaii hosts Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, Northern Illinois faces Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 28 and Nevada plays Maryland in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 30 in Boise.

Boise State went 12-0, while the other teams posted seven-win seasons.

“What I’m most proud of is that we had five deserving teams with winning records,” Benson said.

The Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten all sent all of their 7-5 or better teams to bowls and did not send any 6-6 teams.

The bowl season will be a busy time of the year for Benson. He will see three of the five WAC bowl games ” the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl and the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl.

Benson will be at a pre-game dinner during the week of the New Mexico Bowl before flying to Hawaii with Jessie, his daughter. He will be in Hawaii on Dec. 21, fly out to San Diego on Dec. 23 for the Poinsettia Bowl and then fly back to Hawaii for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on the 24th.

Benson said his daughter has served as a ballgirl during the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. He said celebrating Christmas in Hawaii has become an annual tradition for them.

WAC IS NO. 2

The WAC was ranked second behind the Mountain West among the five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MWC, Sun Belt, Mid-American, Conference USA) during this past football season.

Benson said the rankings are determined by six computer rankings. In polls, the high and low computer scores are thrown out. Foe the purpose of these rankings, all scores/marks are tabulated.

“I think we’re solid,” Benson said. “We improved in the middle. Tech moved into the upper half and is playing in a bowl game.

“The Mountain West had a tremendous season. They were 6-1 against the Pac-10 and had three teams in the top 20. You can’t deny the fact they had an outstanding season.”

Benson said the rivalry between the conferences is a healthy one. Some bragging rights will be decided by the outcome of the New Mexico and Poinsettia bowls.

Benson is hoping that coaching changes at Utah State and New Mexico State will help the conference in the future.

A LITTLE HARSH?

Nevada center Dominic Green has lost his scholarship for the second semester after getting a DUI last weekend.

Apparently, Green was driving a friend home in the friend’s car on last Friday when he was pulled over for expired tags by the Nevada Highway Patrol. He is the fifth player to be arrested for a DUI.

Green will be allowed to play in the upcoming bowl game, however. He will have to pay his own tuition and other fees for the second semester. He is expected to graduate in May.

Two other players, Kenny Viser and Rocco Bene, were kicked off the team after DUIs before the season started because they had past indiscretions. The only reason Green was allowed to stay on the team is that he had no other problems on his record.

PETERSEN IN THE HUNT

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen is in contention for both the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.

Petersen has a 35-3 record in three years and guided the Broncos to their second conference championship in three years.

For the Liberty Mutual Award, fans can cast their ballots at http://www.CoachoftheYear.com. The other award is determined by members of the Football Writers Association of America.

Other finalists for the Robinson Award are Texas’ Mack Brown, Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, Florida’s Urban Meyer, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Alabama’s Nick Saban, USC’s Pete Carroll, Utah’s Kyle Whittington and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.

TOURNAMENT TICKETS ON SALE

Fans interested in attending the WAC Basketball Tournament March 10-14 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno can purchase tickets at this time.

All-session tickets are currently on sale, and single-game tickets will go on sale March 2. All-session tickets (includes all men’s and women’s games) are $175 for the lower bowl, $145 for the upper bowl and $110 for the upper bowl behind each basket. All-session student tickets go for $55 and also include men’s and women’s games.

For men’s basketball, lower bowl tickets are $55 per session, upper bowl (center) tickets are $45 and upper bowl (behind baskets) are $35. Student single-session tickets are $30.

Women’s single-session tickets are $15.

For more information, call (775) 348-7225.

POW HONOREE

Hawaii’s Roderick Flemings has been named the men’s player of the week after averaging 25.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Warriors’ games against Eastern Washington and Illinois. Flemings scored 37 points in the 75-55 win over Eastern Washington, knocking down 16 of 23 field goal attempts. In the loss to Illinois, he scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281