ESPN wants to host Las Vegas Bowl in new stadium

Updated September 2, 2017 - 6:43 pm

He’s pretty good about dealing with floods and major college football games at short notice, so perhaps I was remiss in not asking Pete Derzis about flood culverts.

Derzis is an ESPN senior vice president in charge of TV programming. With all respect due Las Vegas Bowl director John Saccenti and his staff — and myriad other bowl game directors and their staffs, including those at the Gasparilla Bowl — he’s really the man in charge of the ESPN-owned bowl games.

Derzis was the one working behind the scenes and quoted in news stories about switching Saturday night’s Brigham Young vs. Louisiana State game from the hurricane ravaged neutral site of Houston to the New Orleans Superdome. So perhaps I should have asked about the flood culvert that threatens to delay groundbreaking of the Raiders’ new stadium that also will serve as the Las Vegas Bowl’s new digs.

“That stadium is going to be an incredible new home for the bowl game,” Derzis said after Thursday’s Las Vegas Bowl ticket kickoff luncheon at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel. “We’re excited about it, a chance to play in an NFL-quality facility.

“We’re laying out some future plans; (it’s) probably premature to figure out exactly what opportunities because we really haven’t sat down with the Raiders yet. But once those meetings take place, I think we have a great chance to grow what has been a tremendous game within the marketplace.”

It was mentioned to Derzis how other once minor bowl games, such as the Fiesta Bowl in suburban Phoenix, grew from a landing place for the Western Athletic Conference champion into a host of the national championship game on a rotating basis.

He mentioned it itself, how a domed stadium changed everything in the Valley in the Sun.

Might there even be two Las Vegas bowl games, the Las Vegas Bowl in its current iteration and a much bigger one, such as the Fiesta Bowl, with national championship implications?

“Right now there’s a moratorium on bowls,” Derzis said. “Until the NCAA Oversight Committee really figures out exactly how many bowls will be certified, how many contracts will be issued, I think it’s premature” to speculate.

Plus, that flood culvert also will have to be moved, because the New Orleans Superdome is not always a suitable backup plan and the Gasparilla Bowl already has dibs on Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Remembering Rollie

It would have taken an incredibly special man to succeed Jerry Tarkanian as UNLV’s basketball coach. So Rollie Massimino, who died Wednesday in Florida at age 82, probably was doomed not to succeed here even before his secret contact was arranged. He did have a pretty nice run at Villanova, and you’ve got to give him that.

To use a baseball analogy, it was like Joe DiMaggio retiring from the Yankees. Where only Mickey Mantle would do as a replacement in center field, what the Rebels received was Bobby Murcer — with the exception being the Bombers welcomed Bobby Murcer back at the end of his career.

Saved by the wedding bell

Ronda Rousey once was the UFC’s Joe D. and The Mick rolled into one. She was named fighter of the year at the 2015 ESPY Awards edging out Floyd Mayweather, and people started speculating that perhaps the two of them should fight to see who really was best, and to separate a gullible public from boatloads of hard-earned cash.

Rousey was back in the news this week, having gotten married in Hawaii to MMA fighter Travis Browne. This apparently happened while Floyd was fighting Conor McGregor, the new face of mixed martial arts. Photos of Ronda Rousey’s wedding didn’t make it to the internet until Tuesday, and People magazine didn’t call it a “scoop” until Friday, which sort of shows how things have changed in MMA.

Mickey not so fine

Remember that infernal song “Mickey” (which had nothing to do with Mickey Mantle) that got stuck in your head way back when MTV played music videos? Toni Basil, who choreographed the iconic video, has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles alleging people have been using the song for years without her approval (paying for it).

Is there a Las Vegas angle? You bet. Toni Basil also starred in the video, sporting pigtails and a red and blue Las Vegas High cheerleader sweater similar to the one she wore in high school here.

Contact Ron Kantowski at or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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