After capturing a share of the Mountain West Conference championship in the regular-season finale, Fresno State will have to wait this week out before finding out where it will play its bowl game this postseason.
The Bulldogs (9-3, 7-1), bowl-eligible after missing out on last year’s postseason with a 4-9 record, have yet to receive a formal invitation to a Mountain West-affiliated bowl game.
Fresno State, one of five Mountain West bowl eligible teams, awaits its postseason destination with Boise State as the only teams from the conference that have yet to accept a bowl invitation.
The only bowls that have yet to extend invitations to Mountain West schools are the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
Coach Tim DeRuyter said that he had no preference over which destination the Bulldogs should be headed toward, whether it is Las Vegas or Hawaii.
“No matter what bowl we go to, it’s going to be a great reward for our players and our coaches and their families,” DeRuyter said.
“I think there’s an advantage to the Vegas Bowl for our fan base and our players’ families, and that would be nice. But there’s not any bad bowls. An old athletic director of mine told our staff, ‘There’s no bad bowls or no bad beers.’ Enjoy it. Enjoy whichever one we have.”
Las Vegas Bowl Executive Director Dan Hanneke announced on Sunday that both Fresno State and Boise State are being considered as the Mountain West representative.
An invitation will be extended to one of these two teams by Sunday, Hanneke said.
“Both Boise State and Fresno State have had outstanding seasons and either would help give us a great matchup next month,’’ Hanneke said in a press release.
The Las Vegas Bowl features a matchup between a Mountain West school and a Pac-12 team ranked fifth in the standings. While the Las Vegas Bowl is granted the first pick among bowl-eligible Mountain West teams, it is not obligated to pick the conference champion.
Fresno State and San Diego State (9-3, 7-1) both grabbed a share of the conference title Saturday in their season finales. Boise State (9-2, 6-1) can make it a three-way split for the championship if it beats Nevada at home Saturday.
The Broncos have made the trip to Vegas the past two postseasons, defeating Arizona State 56-24 in 2011 and Utah 26-3 in 2010.
Currently, there are four schools with 7-5 overall records tied for fifth-place in the Pac-12 standings – Washington, Arizona, Arizona State and USC.
But while Boise State is being considered for the Las Vegas Bowl, the Broncos, No. 20 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and No. 25 in the Associated Press poll, have a slim chance at receiving a BCS bowl bid if it finishes in the Top 16 in BCS standings and ahead of a champion of an automatic-qualifying conference.
The Big East Conference currently has no teams ranked in the Top 25. However, Kent State of the Mid-American Conference, ranked No. 17 in the BCS, stands in the way of Boise State’s potential BCS bowl bid if it wins against No. 21 Northern Illinois in Saturday’s MAC championship game.
Air Force accepted a bid to play in the 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Nov. 16.
Nevada accepted a bid to play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl against a Pac-12 opponent to be determined.
San Diego State announced Tuesday that it had accepted a bid to play against Brigham Young (7-5) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
The Hawaii Bowl has yet to extend an invitation to a Mountain West representative pending the Las Vegas Bowl’s decision. The Hawaii Bowl features a matchup between members of the Mountain West and members of Conference-USA.
Coaches hit the recruiting road
Fresno State players have been given the week off after capturing a share of the conference championship in the Bulldogs’ inaugural season in the Mountain West.
The rest period, however, is not extended to coaches. They have been on the road this week scouting prospects for DeRuyter’s second recruiting class as head coach at Fresno State.
The Bulldogs, who are allowed to award 28 scholarships this offseason, are planning on signing a full recruitment class, DeRuyter said.
But with the loss of 22 seniors this season, Fresno State would still not have a full roster of 85 scholarship student-athletes that are allowed per NCAA rules.
Hired in mid-December of last year, DeRuyter’s first recruiting class was signed under a condensed time period.
DeRuyter signed 15 student-athletes to scholarships last offseason.
“It’s huge,” DeRuyter said when describing the difference in having a full offseason to recruit prospects. “You get a chance to develop relationships with the guys starting from last spring and have people on campus.
“The other big thing is that tangible evidence. They’ve (recruits) have seen that product on the field. They’ve seen the results of that product on the field. It’s a much easier sell than, ‘Hey, Fresno State’s won, but we’re new and nobody knows whether we can do it or not.’
“Our guys do a great job of getting out and developing relationships with coaches, parents, all the people in the decision-maker’s process that they’re going to consult with. I like where our recruiting efforts are right now.”