Cougars and Wildcats Meet the Las Vegas Media
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Officially
Welcomes BYU and Arizona
LAS VEGAS - At a media conference Tuesday at the ESPN Zone located inside the New York-New York Hotel on the famed Las Vegas Strip, the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl officially welcomed BYU (10-2 overall/6-2) of the Mountain West Conference and the University of Arizona (7-5/5-4) of the Pacific-10 Conference.
The event marked the official start of activities for the Saturday, Dec. 20 (5 p.m. PST on ESPN & ESPN HD) showdown between the Cougars (visiting team) and the Wildcats (home team) at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Representatives from the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gathered on the Strip to welcome the head coaches and athletic administrators from BYU and Arizona in true Las Vegas fashion. The press conference also featured appearances by two record-setting player representatives: BYU's Jan Jorgensen, a junior defensive end who is already his league's all-time leader in QB sacks with 22.5, and Arizona's Willie Tuitama, a senior all-conference performer that is his school's career passing leader.
The 17th edition of the game is a matchup of two high-powered offenses. The No. 16/17 Cougars are the highest-ranked team to ever compete in the event and stand 19th in the FBS with 35.3 points per game. BYU will be making its fourth consecutive trip to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and looks for its third straight victory in the game.
The Wildcats (currently 16th nationally in scoring at 37.1 PPG) will play in the state of Nevada for the first time since traveling to Reno in 1924 and are making their first postseason appearance anywhere since winning the 1998 Holiday Bowl.
The Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl attracted 40,712 fans to last year's game, which was the second-largest crowd in the event's history and marked the bowl's third consecutive sellout as BYU got by UCLA 17-16.
Since the first Las Vegas Bowl was played in 1992, six of the current nine MWC teams have appeared in the game a combined 12 times, compiling a 7-5 record, including a 2-1 mark by BYU. Arizona becomes the sixth Pac-10 team to take part in the annual event and the conference has forged a 4-4 overall record in Las Vegas. The MWC and Pac-10 have met the last six seasons in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, with the MWC winning four times.
While BYU and Arizona will face each other in a bowl game for the first time, it marks the 22nd meeting between the two programs in a series that dates back to 1936. Arizona leads 11-9-1 all-time but the teams split a recent home-and-home series. The Wildcats prevailed 16-13 to open the 2006 season in Tucson and the Cougars won 20-7 on Sept. 1, 2007, in Provo, Utah.
Holding an 9-16-1 all-time record in bowl games, BYU (No. 16 in the BCS) is the fourth ranked team to ever appear in a Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (the Cougars were 19/19 last year and 19/20 in 2006 while Air Force was 21/23 when it faced Oregon in 1997's game). BYU is no stranger to Sam Boyd Stadium, having compiled an impressive a 10-2 record in Las Vegas, which includes two appearances in the Western Athletic Conference championship game during the 1990s.
While Arizona returns to the bowl business for the first time in a decade, it has compiled an all-time mark of 5-7-1, including winning its last two. While they hosted UNLV in 2001, the Wildcats have never played a football game in Las Vegas. Coincidentally, Arizona's men's basketball team plays the Runnin' Rebels on the UNLV campus on the same day of the bowl game with a noon tipoff at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Players, coaches, administrators and fans from both teams will enjoy a complete bowl experience combined with the unmatched entertainment and attractions of Las Vegas, a world-renowned event and resort destination that attracts nearly 40 million visitors each year. As part of Bowl Week, the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl will host events at some of the city's most exciting venues. The event lineup includes a Welcome Reception at the ESPN Zone (Wednesday, Dec. 17); Show Night in Las Vegas at Stomp Out Loud at Planet Hollywood (Dec. 17); Sunrise Children's Hospital Visit (Thursday, Dec. 18); the Outback Buffet Bowl (Dec. 18) and the Pep Rally at the Golden Nugget/Fremont Street Experience (Friday, Dec. 19); and the annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Dec. 19).
Announcing the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, which is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), will be Mike Patrick (play by play) and Todd Blackledge (analyst) while Holly Rowe will report from the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast nationally on the Sports USA Radio Network and along the Armed Forces Radio Network.
This will mark the fourth consecutive sellout for the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl as tickets not designated for the participating teams sold out earlier this month.
Additional information about the game is available at lvbowl.com.
QUOTES FROM THE 2008 PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT MEDIA CONFERENCE
ESPN Zone inside New York-New York Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
Dec. 9, 2008
TINA KUNZER MURPHY
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Executive Director
''On behalf of the City of Las Vegas, it's my pleasure to welcome both BYU and Arizona to the Entertainment Capital of the World. Today's a celebration. To those of you on both teams who have worked so hard and generated so many great moments for you universities, your alumni and your family and friends and all of us who truly love college football ? we say thank you. Coach Mendenhall, Coach Stoops, Willie and Jan, Jim Livengood and Tom Holmoe, thanks to all of you for being here today. I can't wait for December 20th when both your teams take the field.''
''I'd like to thank Pioneer Electronics. There is not a greater title sponsor in the country. This is their fifth year with us. They're wonderful people who treat us like family and thank you so much.''
''My deep appreciation to everyone here today and again, we look forward to a great game on the 20th.''
BYU Athletics Director
''It's an honor to be back in Las Vegas to play in this year's Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. This is where all the teams, players, coaches, athletic directors and fans want to be ? and that's playing in a bowl game. We've had the great opportunity to be here in Las Vegas for the last three years. This is our fourth in a row. And we want to assure everybody that we are not complacent. We feel comfortable because of the people in Las Vegas and the bowl committee and staff and our great hotel ? Planet Hollywood -- have shown us such great hospitality.''
''We know this is an important game for our team to help grow our program. The Las Vegas Bowl has been very good to us. We're ecstatic to be back here and our fans are looking forward to coming back and being part of this. I want to congratulate the University of Arizona for a great season. I want to congratulate Bronco Mendenhall and Jan and his teammates for another great season. We look forward to a super matchup on December 20th.''
BYU Head Coach
''Four years ago, we hadn't been part of postseason play for a number of years and Tina and the Las Vegas Bowl I think took a chance on us. It has been instrumental in helping us grow our program and helping us develop and we are thrilled to be back. I'd also would like to thank our friends at Planet Hollywood. Our experience there, especially last year, was fantastic and we are thankful for the first-class hosting. I'd also like to acknowledge the University of Arizona. This is the third time Coach Stoops and I have coached against each other. We know each other well yet both teams have changed, grown and matured. So I think it will be a great matchup. We also know Willie well. It's been fun to watch him complete passes all over the field against great competition and I think it's going to be a fantastic football game. As far as our team is concerned, and I'm sure it's the same for Arizona as well, every time you have a chance to play you want to improve -- you want to do your best. I think that having two teams as hungry as we both are to play in Las Vegas will make for a fantastic matchup.''
BYU Junior Defensive Lineman
''It's always a great time coming to the Las Vegas Bowl. We are very honored to be here and to be playing a great opponent in Arizona. I think the two teams are very similar. We both have great head coaches who are hard workers. Both are led by a great quarterback -- Arizona being led by Willie. It's been fun getting to know him today and hopefully I'll get to know him a little bit better on December 20th. Arizona is probably the best opponent we have faced in this bowl game so we are excited for this game.''
Arizona Athletics Director
''I'm so very proud of Mike and our football staff and our players for what they've done in terms of persevering and growing this program. It's an amazing journey and it's not done yet. This is going to be a great game. It's exciting to be back in the bowl business after 10 years. Some of things we're experiencing right now are kind of first-time things for us. We're also excited to be in Las Vegas and I don't know that there would be a better opponent other than Brigham Young University in terms of our two schools and conferences and what we stand for. We're going to hold up our end and help make sure that this is one of the great bowl games not only in Las Vegas Bowl history but in all the 2008-09 season. ''
Arizona Head Coach
''Thanks so much for this unbelievable opportunity. I can tell you that our players and our fans are very excited about this matchup with a traditional power of not only the Mountain West but in all of college football. This bowl game I believe has grown in the last 17 years than any other bowl game. I had the opportunity to come watch BYU play Oregon here a couple of years ago. Watching first-hand, I really couldn't believe the excitement in the stadium that night with an overflowing crowd. To watch it was inspirational to me and something that we've wanted to accomplish for out team for many years. It's been a long journey to get to this point but I couldn't be more proud of our players, especially the seniors, for enduring some of the tough times you have to go through to rebuild a program. It's going to be an incredible game. We have tremendous respect for BYU and Coach Mendenhall.''
Arizona Senior Quarterback
''No one on our team has ever been in a bowl game. This is our first time. We hear our coaches telling stories about the bowl games they've been to so we're definitely excited to be here. BYU is a great team -- a top-20 team. We're looking forward to coming out here and having a good time and playing some good football.''