- Maryland's Friedgen (right) and East Carolina's McNeill pose for photographers after this afternoon's press conference. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Today, the Military Bowl's introductory press conference was held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. It was an opportunity for the two head coaches (Ralph Friedgen of Maryland and Ruffin McNeill of East Carolina) to formally meet the media ahead of the bowl game, which will be played at RFK Stadium December 29.
Many of the questions centered on the perception that the Terrapins had been slighted by other, more prominent bowls. "We have no problem with the Military Bowl," Friedgen said. "We might have a problem with some other bowls."
Despite finishing with an 8-4 record overall, and a 5-3 conference mark, Maryland was bypassed by more prestigious bowls in favor of teams whose on-field resumes were lacking in 2010.
For example, the Champs Sports Bowl, which holds its game in the more temperate climate of Orlando, chose North Carolina State, a team which finished the season with the same record as Maryland and lost to the Terps on November 27, to play West Virginia. The Sun Bowl, which is played in El Paso, Texas and also has ACC ties, opted for a big-name matchup between Notre Dame and Miami. The Music City and Meineke Car Care Bowls, played in Nashville and Charlotte, respectively, opted for North Carolina and Clemson, respectively, as their ACC representation (UNC went 7-5 this season, while Clemson finished 6-6). And the Independence Bowl, in Shreveport, La., chose 6-6 Georgia Tech to face Air Force.
The conventional wisdom among observers of the college bowl scene is that teams who bring lots of fans to the host city are more desirable to organizers. Some have suggested that Maryland has developed a reputation as a school whose fans don't travel well. Friedgen insisted that reputation was undeserved.
"Just before the [N.C. State game], I was on the phone with the Champs Sports Bowl people, and they said, 'Ralph, we've had Clemson, Florida State, and Miami here recently, and [Maryland] brought just as many fans as them, if not more,'" claimed Friedgen, who was named ACC coach of the year for the second time in his Maryland tenure last week.
However, bowl officials do seem to be worried about the prospect of a no-show by Maryland fans on game day. During his introductory remarks, Washington Convention and Sports Authority Senior Vice President Erik Moses was quick to point out that East Carolina fans had sold out the Pirates' team hotel, the Renaissance Mayflower on Connecticut Avenue.
"We have a different dilemma here," Friedgen said. "This is a chance for us to send a message to those other bowls that turned us down by showing up in numbers to a bowl game in our backyard."
Each participating school receives an allotment of 10,000 tickets, according to Military Bowl Executive Director Steve Beck. 5,000 additional tickets have been distributed to members of the military as part of the bowl's relationship with the USO, while another 2,500 tickets have been issued to various D.C. youth organizations. That leaves roughly 18,000 tickets available for public sale in the 45,423-seat stadium.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. on December 29. It will be aired on ESPN-TV, as well as on WTEM-AM 980 and WFED-AM 820/1500.