Pat Chun, Sun Bowl leadership on how they brought CMU to El Paso

First off, we learned that WSU is heading to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl to take on Miami. Then the COVID issues with the Hurricanes cast that into question. Next, Miami reaffirmed its commitment to the game, announcing that they would travel 24 hours before kickoff. Then, just hours after the WSU landed in El Paso, Miami pulled out of the game due to those same COVID issues and things looked grim again for the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

We now know, of course, that WSU takes on Central Michigan this Friday. But it wasn’t always clear, and things must have unfolded quickly after the Arizona Bowl was canceled due to Boise State’s COVID concerns.

“We were here almost two hours to the minute when we got the call from Miami saying they couldn’t be our opponent.” Pat Chun told media on Tuesday at a press conference in El Paso. “We ended up where we needed to be. When they talk about a partnership with the bowls, I think that’s what has been experienced over the past two days. It’s a real partnership. We were 100% committed to the Sun Bowl and 100% committed to El Paso. “

“When Miami called us, it was literally right after they got off the plane,” Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said. “We started to search. We started to call. Then we heard that Boise State might have some COVID issues … When they finally tested and had too many players with COVID, then we knew there was a team looking for an opponent. [Central Michigan] was right up the street and, you know, in El Paso, 400 miles is right up the street. We reached out to them and reached out to the commissioners to see if we could make a deal for them to come to El Paso. It took a long time, but we got there. “

“We were making as many calls as possible to try to determine which opponents would be available,” Chun said of his process. “Bernie was basically camped out in our hotel yesterday as we discussed all the phone calls and all the rumors. There were schools that pretended they wanted to play and didn’t intend to play just to add a little bravado to their own programs. The reality was that central Michigan was going to be the only option. “

After news broke that Boise State was pulling out of their Arizona Bowl game with WCU, a tweet from Dave Portnoy, the chairman of Arizona Bowl title sponsor Barstool Sports, raised eyebrows. Portnoy suggested that WSU questions football team and ask them if they prefer to play in Tucson or El Paso. Once the cancellation is finalized, Portnoy used Twitter again, suggested he tried to get WSU to play in the Arizona Bowl instead of adding “WSU said Sun Bowl or nothing.”

“We made it clear that we are 100% committed to the Sun Bowl,” Chun said, addressing the report. “We had a conversation with [the Arizona Bowl], but it was really a communication to allow them to plan without Washington state being an option for them.

Of course, it probably helped that the Pac-12 had a long-standing relationship with the Sun Bowl. It probably helped even more that the Sun Bowl game was televised nationally on CBS with over $ 4.2 million more payout than the Arizona Bowl on YouTube.

Olivas mentioned that the game is obviously important to the Sun Bowl Association. But he also explained why the event is crucial for the city itself, especially after the game is canceled in 2020. The Sun Bowl is probably the city’s biggest economic event all year round, but it does a lot. more for the image of the city in West Texas too.

“Most of the time when El Paso makes national headlines, it’s usually not good. But, for four hours, CBS is going to do a tremendous job of promoting our city. “

Tuesday’s press conference was to present coordinators from both teams. Obviously, WSU is studying a new opponent and CMU won’t even arrive until Thursday, so that wasn’t possible. And while things are a little different when it comes to bowl week, the Cougs were able to step onto the field to prepare for the WCU game. Chun says it was a nice change of pace for the Cougar 2021 football team.

“Today is really the normal first day of bowl week,” Chun said Tuesday, “for Washington state and the year we’ve had, a normal day is a good day for us.”

The Sun Bowl kicks off New Years Eve at 9 a.m. PT on CBS.

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