WKU talking with several bowls

Brad Stephens

A familiar process is going on in WKU’s athletic department, although this time the school is hoping for a different result.

WKU athletic representatives are currently pitching the 6-2 Topper football team to bowl sites and talking with representatives from a number of bowls.

The school has also begun taking ticket reservations from fans for a potential bowl game.

One season ago, WKU took these same steps, but the 7-5 Toppers were snubbed from the bowl process, becoming the only team with a winning record not to receive a bowl bid in 2011.

This year, athletics director Todd Stewart said, the school is doing everything it can do to avoid the same outcome.

“The main thing we’re trying to do is have non-stop dialogue with the bowls,” Stewart said.

The Sun Belt Conference has two direct bowl ties, the New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 22, New Orleans) and the GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.)

Neither one of those bowls is contractually obligated to take the Sun Belt champion, though the two bowls would be a likely landing spot for a team that finished near the top of the league standings.

But several other bowls could take a Sun Belt team if the conferences with which the bowls are affiliated don’t have enough teams reach the six-win bowl eligibility threshold.

For example, the BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 5, Birmingham, Ala.) is contractually obligated to match an SEC team against a Big East team.

However, neither league may have enough teams eligible, opening the door for an at-large team like the Toppers.

“I think it’s a better situation than last year in terms of where there’ll be openings,” Stewart said.

A GoDaddy.com Bowl rep was in Miami last weekend when the Toppers beat Florida International.

Harold Graeter, associate executive director of the Liberty Bowl, attended the Toppers’ Oct. 20 home loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

And a Beef O’ Brady’s bowl representative was on hand Sept. 22 for WKU’s home win against Southern Mississippi.

“Just like we’re talking to a number of bowls, should we be an at-large team needing a home, (bowls) do the same thing too,” Stewart said. “They do their homework.”

A big part of a team appearing attractive to bowl suitors is fan support, Stewart said.

Therefore, just minutes after WKU beat FIU on Saturday to become bowl eligible, a landing page appeared on WKUsports.com asking fans to reserve bowl tickets.

Fans can put down a single $10 deposit to reserve all of their tickets to the bowl game that WKU is chosen to attend.

Once the bowl game is decided and ticket prices are released, the $10 deposit will be used toward the overall price of the tickets bought.

If WKU isn’t selected for a bowl, those that put down a deposit will receive a full refund.

But Stewart said WKU isn’t hoping that any refunds will be issued when the final bowl selections are announced in early December.

“If we finish strong and we win, then we’ll be in a great position,” Stewart said.