Deal makes Navy eligible for Meineke Car Care Bowl

College Football

May 31, 2006|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

There is a new suitor courting the Navy football team for postseason appearances.

Chet Gladchuk, the academy's athletic director, confirmed that an agreement has been made with the Meineke Car Care Bowl that makes the Midshipmen eligible to play in Charlotte, N.C., against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Dec. 30.

"If we're bowl-eligible, we'll play in Charlotte," Gladchuk said. "We felt like we've been in Houston, which is in the deep South, and then on the West Coast for two years, and thought it was logical to strike a deal with a bowl game along the Eastern seaboard this time."

He cited several positive factors for the choice. The game is within driving distance of the academy and the date falls between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Navy has become a hot item among bowl selection committees after selling 25,000 tickets for the 2003 Houston Bowl, 18,000 for the 2004 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco and 20,000 to last year's inaugural Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

Representatives of the bowl enthusiastically approached Navy early this year and offered a deal that will give the Midshipmen priority over the No. 3 team from the Big East Conference.

"If we don't become eligible, then the bowl has an alternative," Gladchuk said. "They've been averaging about 60,000 fans and they know Navy will deliver. And it will be lucrative. The minimum payout they offer is $750,000 [to each competing school], but they've been averaging about $1.3 million for the last several years."

The Mids return 18 starters from last season's 8-4 team. Only two possibilities would keep them out of Charlotte: if they don't win six games to become bowl-eligible, or if they win 11 or 12 and make the Bowl Championship Series, which has been expanded to five games.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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