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Navy Is Going Bowling

Emerald Bowl Extends Invitation, Other Bids Possible

By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2004; Page D06

Navy's football team has been invited to play in the Emerald Bowl and the school will announce today whether it will accept the bid after school officials talk to representatives from four other bowls that have expressed interest in the Midshipmen, said Chet Gladchuk, Navy's athletic director.

Navy (8-2), which has scheduled a press conference for 3 p.m., would likely face either New Mexico (7-4) or Wyoming (6-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Dec. 30 game at SBC Park in San Francisco. It would mark just the second time in school history the Midshipmen played in a bowl game in consecutive seasons. Navy lost to Texas Tech in the Houston Bowl last year.

The Emerald Bowl, which has a per-team payout of $750,000, formally invited Navy after Emerald Bowl Executive Director Gary Cavalli met with Gladchuk yesterday morning. Gladchuk dined with representatives from the Motor City, Houston, Champs Sports, Liberty and Emerald bowls after they attended Navy's 54-21 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.

"We're really excited that we have an offer on the table, and were honored that we have the opportunity to play in a wonderful bowl," Gladchuk said. "Now, we're going to talk with people from the other bowl games that have been interested in the Naval Academy."

Navy, enjoying its best record since 1996, closes its regular season against Army (2-8) on Dec. 4 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

"Navy's got a heck of a football team, a national following and has a great television audience and brings a lot of pageantry to our game," said Cavalli. "Navy has the whole package, and the way they played against Rutgers was the capper for me."

It appears that the interest in Navy shown by the Liberty Bowl, which pits the Mountain West champion against the champion of Conference USA, has diminished. The Liberty Bowl has an open spot to replace Mountain West Conference champion Utah (11-0) if it qualifies for a Bowl Championship Series game, which is likely.

The Liberty Bowl could have pursued Navy to face Conference USA champion Louisville (8-1), but it appears it will target undefeated Boise State for the Dec. 31 game in Memphis that has a per-team payout of approximately $1.35 million.

"Right now, all we have is an invitation from the Emerald Bowl, so as a courtesy I'll talk to the other four bowls and then we'll make a decision," Gladchuk said.

The Emerald Bowl is the only one of the aforementioned bowls that has an open spot, because the Pacific-10 will not have enough eligible teams to fill its slot; the final BCS standings come out Dec. 5.

Gladchuk said he thinks Navy is a good fit for the Emerald Bowl because it would allow the Midshipmen to play in California -- a state with a strong contingent of Navy personnel and alumni -- for the first time since losing to San Diego State, 45-31, in 1997.

"A lot of our alumni on the West Coast have been asking us for a number of years when we would come out there for a game," Gladchuk said. "I think the Emerald Bowl gives us a great opportunity to do that."

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