Gloom was joined by doom at Sea World Holiday Bowl headquarters in San Diego Monday.
This time when bowl officials met there was no talk of a national championship showdown between an undefeated Brigham Young University and national power Notre Dame. No more talk about calls to ESPN to try to sweeten the pot from $1.2 million per team to around $3 million per team to attract the Fighting Irish. And no more plans to petition the NCAA to move the game to Jan. 1 to further showcase it.Saturday afternoon in Eugene, Ore., ended that scenario when the Cougars and their No. 4 national ranking fell to Oregon's Ducks, 32-16.
"Needless to say it was a pretty gloomy bunch," said Richard Circuit, a member of the bowl's board of directors. "It changed our wish list completely."
Now, Holiday Bowl officials are hoping for a matchup like the following:
BYU vs. Tennessee.
Circuit noted that Sport Magazine has called the Holiday Bowl "the most exciting bowl in America." Last year's 50-39 down-to-the-wire victory by Penn State over BYU did nothing to tarnish that perception.
"A BYU-Tennessee matchup could produce one of those kind of games," Circuit believes. "We've been close to inviting Tennessee a number of times."
Of course, a number of things have to happen for that matchup to occur. BYU must win the Western Athletic Conference, which probably means beating undefeated Wyoming in Laramie on Nov. 10. And current No. 6 Tennessee probably must lose at least two games to take itself out of Sugar Bowl contention and contention for another New Year's Day bowl.
Holiday Bowl officials are looking at a number of teams besides Tennessee, of course. With the national championship possibility gone, Circuit thinks the selection committee will be leaning toward a team that has not been to the bowl before. That makes the leading candidates Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas A&M, and USC, Circuit said.
"If USC doesn't make the Rose Bowl, I think we'd have a chance. I think they'd like to come down here," Circuit said.
Teams like coming to San Diego in the winter, he added. Last year's at-large team, Penn State, has already asked the Holiday Bowl to keep it in mind again for this year's game, Circuit said.
The first date bowls can scout teams is Oct. 13. The Holiday Bowl will send representatives to scout the following: Tennessee, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Penn State, Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
Cicuit ruled out a BYU-Oregon rematch.
"If Wyoming won it's possible Oregon would be invited. But, no, we're not going to have a (BYU-Oregon) rematch. Rematches aren't good for bowls."
BYU is the most attractive WAC team because of its ranking and because of Heisman Trophy candidate Ty Detmer.
"We as a bowl are really hopeful Ty Detmer wins the Heisman. We'd love to have another Heisman Trophy winner."
Two years ago Oklahoma State with Heisman winner Barry Sanders played in the Holiday Bowl against Wyoming.