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If Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson is to be believed, the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl could be getting closer to inviting BYU to play a Pac-12 opponent (Cal and Washington State are the most likely candidates) in its game on Dec. 19 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
In conference teleconference on Monday, Thompson said he's still not sure, but believes the MWC will not be sending a team to Vegas, which opens the door for BYU.
"I don't know what exactly is going to happen with Las Vegas," Thompson said. "I would say, without giving any inside information here on a Monday, that we will probably vacate Las Vegas this year."
BYU (9-3) knows it is going bowling, but still doesn't know whether it will be in Las Vegas on the 19th or in Hawaii on the 24th (Christmas Eve) against an opponent from the American Athletic Conference (Tulsa and Navy are the most likely candidates).
Las Vegas Bowl executive director John Saccenti, who didn't immediately return phone calls on Monday seeking his response to Thompson's comments, told me last week that his bowl and the Hawaii Bowl both want BYU this season, and each bowl has its compelling reasons for such a desire.
If the Las Vegas Bowl doesn't get BYU, it will most likely get the winner of the MWC championship game, San Diego State (9-3) or Air Force (8-4).
I briefly spoke with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe today at the groundbreaking for the new Marriott Center Annex the BYU basketball practice facility and he was pretty tight-lipped over the matter.
"I can say that I have been in discussion with ESPN Regional, ESPN Events, which owns numerous bowls. And they own both bowls that we are tied into. They also own other bowls," Holmoe said. "They are in the process of discussing all that this afternoon. Then after that, the bowl people gotta figure it out.
So, the sixth of December is the date. You gotta understand everybody everybody wants to know. The bowl people want to know as much as the schools. It is not that they want to keep people guessing. There is a huge financial consideration, for the schools and for the bowls."
Holmoe said that reports that it will be a "mutual agreement" between BYU, ESPN and the two bowls that are, not coincidentally, owned by ESPN are accurate.
"Absolutely," he said. "I mean, I know these guys. They want to know for their sake what are the best opportunities. Now, we are not going to pick teams. We are just talking about where we go. We don't have a say in who we play."
When I asked Holmoe if BYU has a preference which bowl it goes to, he deferred and said: "We are just trying to clarify with everybody our situation."
BYU football players and coaches are not scheduled to speak to the media this week.
After the 51-28 win over Utah State on Saturday, most players who were asked the question said they would prefer the Las Vegas Bowl because it is closer and their families can make the trip with much less expense than Hawaii.