By the end of this weekend, Oregon State will know its bowl game destination.
The Beavers are in the running for the Alamo or Holiday bowls, depending on what happens in tonight’s Pac-12 championship football game between Stanford and UCLA.
Once the conference champion is crowned and headed to the Rose Bowl, then bowl selection committees will decide to invite who they want for the rest of the bowl games.
The loser of the Pac-12 title game and the Beavers will be the top two teams not available for BCS bowl consideration. That makes them the most attractive teams to fill out the six other games.
“That’s a big game,” OSU coach Mike Riley said of the title game. “We’ve basically said we are going somewhere. What we need to do right now, we just have to get ready for our game. We just want to win this week and see where we go.”
The Beavers’ resume has been built with an 8-3 record featuring six conference wins, including a triumph over UCLA and a close loss to Stanford. A victory over Nicholls State on Saturday is just icing.
However, OSU’s athletic department doesn’t leave its fate up to the selection committees. The administration does its job selling the program.
“We think we are a pretty attractive team,” said Steve Fenk, associate athletic director for athletic communication. “We have some very good victories, a history of Beaver Nation traveling well for bowl games, a head coach who has a great reputation and who has a background in two of the bowl locations (San Antonio and San Diego). Beaver Nation has a very good reputation for supporting the team and being a part of the bowl festivities. Plus, we are eager as an entire university, not just the football team or athletics, to showcase OSU on a national stage.”
Administrators have spent much of the season convincing bowl representatives of those factors. Nearly every week, various people associated with the bowls have watched the Beavers live.
When the games are in Corvallis, OSU uses student ambassadors to show them around campus, the tailgate area and all the activities around the game.
Bowl representatives gauge the fan support because they want as many fans as possible traveling to their city for the game.
“Then we entertain them in our suite (during the games),” athletic director Bob De Carolis said. “The No. 1 question on their agenda is how your fans will travel. Not just for the game but also hotel rooms for an extended stay.”
The Beavers increased the pressure this week. They sent out a video to the bowls they are in contention for that includes player highlights with all-American candidates, postseason awards, watch list members, attendance numbers, team facts and OSU’s bowl history.
They also sent out a video about the team’s season and highlights. The bowls want an exciting contest and ideas to promote for the local and national media.
“The competitiveness of the team, top performers, story lines and the coach are all relevant,” De Carolis said.
OSU has an edge this season with the bowls it's up for because of Riley. He has a history in San Antonio, home of the Alamo Bowl, and San Diego for the Holiday Bowl.
He coached the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001 and the San Antonio Riders in the World League from 1991-92. Riley also has a vacation home in San Antonio.
“They both will be great games for us,” Riley said. “Both cities are appealing. Both games are new for the Beavers. Personally, for me, both cities would be awesome. We have friends in both places.”