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Boise State jabs Mountain West, plans to wear all-blue uniforms in MAACO Bowl

When the obituary is written for the Mountain West Conference — as it will be if the expected merger goes through with Conference USA, probably in January — the MWC can look back at its treatment of Boise State as a cause.

The Mountain West never really made the Broncos feel appreciated, spending years spurning their desires to join the league, maintaining Boise State would not have aided the case for automatic Bowl Championship Series status.

And then when the Mountain West finally invited the Broncos last year, it was under the condition they not wear their all-blue uniforms while playing on their famous blue field.

That didn’t sit well with Boise State, which still agreed to join but will head to the Big East Conference in 2013.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen was asked somewhat lightheartedly if the uniform issue was the real reason the Broncos will leave the Mountain West.

"I don’t think that hurt," he said.

Petersen said eighth-ranked Boise State will wear its all-blue uniforms when it plays Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at 5 p.m. Thursday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Boise State also doesn’t expect the Big East to have a problem with the all-blues.

"That’s a sore subject," Petersen said. "It hasn’t come up, so I assume we’re all good."

n SHARING SPACE — Bad enough Dennis Erickson knows this will be his final game as Arizona State’s coach after being fired in late November.

He’s also had to share office space with incoming coach Todd Graham and his assistants.

"It’s awkward, yeah, of course," Erickson said. "People can say it wasn’t, but it is. It’s awkward for both sides. We’re trying to practice, and they’re trying to put together their staff. My guys are trying to find jobs.

"It’s been very difficult for my coaching staff and my players."

n HOPING FOR 30 — Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy is hoping for a sellout but isn’t sure she will get one.

She wants to draw at least a crowd of 30,000, and said there’s a good chance of reaching that number.

"I think Boise will surprise us," Kunzer-Murphy said. "They come from different places. They’re not fans to go through their own ticket office. They have creative ways of buying tickets."

Part of the reason, she said, is because Boise State doesn’t immediately assign seats when tickets are sold, and "the fans want to know where they’re sitting."

Kunzer-Murphy said each school returned more than 3,000 tickets out of the 11,000 allotment each had to purchase.

Selling tickets hasn’t been a problem for the most recent Las Vegas bowls. It has drawn paid crowds of more than 40,000 each year since 2005, so it appears that streak will end.

Kunzer-Murphy said she will have a better estimate today, because ticket sales moved out of her office Dec. 1 to the Thomas & Mack Center.

n ODDS AND ENDS — Some players visited Sunrise Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, and today’s main events will be a luncheon at the Convention Center and a pep rally on Fremont Street. Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier will be the featured speaker at the luncheon. … Each player can receive up to $350 of bowl swag. Choices include a 32-inch flat-screen high-definition television, an iPod, a Wii gaming system and a Fender Starcaster guitar. … Arizona State defensive coordinator Craig Bray was a UNLV wide receiver in 1973 and 1974, and an assistant coach in 1975. … This is the Sun Devils’ first trip to Nevada since losing to UNR 33-13 in 1947.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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