This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As noted here, BYU on Wednesday announced that it will play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 (a Friday) following the upcoming football season if it is bowl eligible and if it is not picked to play in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game. ESPN will televise the game, which will kick off at 10 a.m. MST. Yes, that's 10 in the morning. BYU's gain if it can be called that is the Mountain West Conference's loss. Not mentioned in the BYU news release or any other report from yesterday is that the bowl opened up to the Cougars because it was vacated by the MWC, which has had an agreement to send one of its teams to that bowl. Air Force has appeared in the last three Armed Forces Bowls. The Cougars if eligible will play a Conference USA opponent. If BYU isn't eligible, the bowl will have to find at "at-large" team, perhaps one from the Mid-American Conference. The MWC had to vacate the bowl because it will have only eight teams this season (BYU goes independent, Utah goes to the Pac-12, Boise State joins the league). Next year, the league will also lose TCU to the Big East, but will welcome Nevada, Hawaii (for football only) and Fresno State. The MWC will keep its agreements with the Las Vegas Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl, the Independence Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl this season, but apparently league officials and the NCAA's Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee felt that it wouldn't have five bowl-eligible teams in 2011 a tough task for any league with just eight teams. By the way, the NCAA announced a three-year moratorium on new bowls on Thursday, putting to rest those rumors first broached by a San Jose Mercury News blog that BYU might try to create its own bowl in the near future in conjunction with ESPN and a children's charity. BYU has had at least one player taken in the NFL Draft every year since 1984, but it appears that streak will end this weekend. The 2011 NFL Draft begins tonight and runs through Saturday. It would be a mild surprise if any Cougars are taken; none were invited to the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis a few months ago, and none are showing up on the most popular NFL Mock Draft boards. Safety Andrew Rich and defensive end Vic So'oto are probably BYU's best draft possibilities, but both are considered longshots and will likely have to go the free-agent route. Offensive lineman Jason Speredon, defensive backs Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley, receiver Luke Ashworth and kicker Mitch Payne are also eligible to be drafted. Of those, Speredon seems to have drawn the most interest from NFL clubs and could get a free-agent invite. Last year, BYU tight end Dennis Pitta went in the fourth round to the Baltimore Ravens and running back Harvey Unga was taken in the supplemental draft by the Chicago Bears.