WKU will learn its bowl fate by Sunday


Senior running back Braxston Miller scores a touchdown against Troy last Saturday. Miller and the rest of the WKU football team are bowl-eligible, but may not get a bid.

Brad Stephens

WKU’s annual end-of-the-year football banquet will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday.

During that banquet the Toppers may learn whether their 2011 season is indeed over, or if they will be playing in the first bowl game of the program’s Football Bowl Subdivision history.

WKU (7-5) is waiting to hear if it will receive an at-large berth to one of the FBS’ 35 bowl games.

The bowl schedule will be announced at 7:15 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.

“(The banquet) would be an ideal time to make an announcement, so we’re tracking on that timeline to know one way or another,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said.

The Toppers are in the running for several bowls, but the one which has gained the most attention from WKU fans is the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 7 Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. 

The bowl, which has direct tie-ins with the Big East and Southeastern Conferences, has become one of the more likely destinations for the Toppers because of the relatively short four hour drive from Bowling Green to Birmingham and the possibility that neither the Big East nor the SEC will have enough eligible teams to fill those slots.

Topper football fans have been tweeting at the Compass Bowl’s official Twitter account and posting on the wall of the bowl’s official Facebook page in recent days, lobbying for the bowl to invite WKU.

Social media posts have included videos of fans rushing Feix Field after the Toppers’ Oct. 22 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, pictures of Head Coach Willie Taggart and mascot Big Red and the lyrics to “Stand Up and Cheer,” the school fight song.

Twitter and Facebook WKU lobbyists to the Compass Bowl have varied from players (senior defensive end Jared Clendenin) to legislators (Warren County State Representative Jim DeCesare) to past WKU athletes (Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee).

Traffic increased after the Compass Bowl posted on Monday night, “There is no denying the enthusiasm of the WKU fan base… There is a lot of football left to be played this weekend but we are certainly well aware of your credentials.”

Bjork on Tuesday said the Compass Bowl would be a good fit for the Toppers.

“I believe our fans would really jump all over those tickets,” he said. “I think Birmingham gives us the best shot because it’s a drivable distance. It’s a Saturday. It’s after the holidays.

“It makes sense in a lot of ways. But at this point, we’ll go anywhere that will take us and reward our players and coaches for a job well done.”

Several games on Saturday need to play out in WKU’s favor in order to keep the pool of other at-large teams as low as possible.

Cincinnati beating Connecticut, Brigham Young beating Hawaii, No. 6 Houston beating No. 24 Southern Mississippi and No. 12 Georgia upsetting No. 1 Louisiana State would all help the Toppers’ at-large chances.

But even if all of those results play out the way WKU wants, there’s no guarantee the Toppers would go bowling.

Bjork said that bowls could trade teams based on various contracts between bowls and conferences, further clouding WKU’s bowl forecast.

“I guess anything’s possible at this point in time when you’re an at-large team,” he said.