Price of bowl game poker on rise

Observations from Wednesday’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Fall Kickoff Luncheon at the Texas de Brazil Restaurant at Town Square:

• While $10,000 seems a tad Donald Trump-ish for a platinum ticket package — even if it does include 20 parking spaces in the paved section and an autographed photo of Erin Andrews — $25 for a seat in the pie-shaped corners of Sam Boyd Stadium to watch one of the Mountain West Conference’s best teams (read: Brigham Young) knock helmets with one of the Pacific-10’s underachieving ones still seems a fair price.

• Brock Huard, the former Washington Huskies quarterback-turned-ESPN analyst, sure likes to talk.

• When Texans and Brazilians pool culinary talents and resources, the result is an abundance of food so deliciously decadent that medieval kings would be moved to huzzah in boisterous mirth.

"More sausages for the minstrels, my noble fellow. And some of thy sweet fried bananas for the troubadours."

• Bret Gilliland was nowhere to be found.

Bret Gilliland is a Mountain West deputy commissioner. As such, he must have myriad responsibilities. I believe the primary one is representing the conference at affairs such as bowl game kickoff luncheons when MWC commissioner Craig Thompson is doing something more important, such as trying to talk Texas Christian and Gary Patterson into staying, or hiring lawyers to counter-sue Karl Benson at Western Athletic Conference headquarters.

Anyway, after Huard’s filibuster, it’s not like Deputy Gilliland would have had time to say a few words before the bank presidents and big shots who purchase platinum ticket packages had to return to the No. 1 tee box.

Naturally, I read way too much into this.

I interpreted it as a sign from Touchdown Jesus that local bowl game officials are not enamored of their arrangement with the Mountain West. A contract that, thanks to recent handshakes on another golf course, will have the Las Vegas Bowl and ESPN and the MWC and the Pac-10 sleeping together in a makeshift luxury tent in the north end zone until 2013.

That could change, should Texas tell the Big 12 to add a few more members. In that case, great dominoes will continue to tumble. And a loophole might surface for some of these bowl games to forge alliances with the Big Cheese Conference and the Monolithic 22. And BYU, as it wonders aimlessly about while waiting for ESPN to tell it and Gonzaga what time their basketball game will start.

And what if Boise State beats TCU (or vice versa) in this year’s Bowl Championship Series championship game? In that case, the BCS probably will become the BCP — Bowl Championship Playoff — quicker than you can say Lou Holtz, and President Obama and ESPN’s Andy Katz will be filling out more brackets at the White House.

"It may get more expensive for us, depending on how some of those things play out," said MAACO Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, who was wearing a black armband following Air Force’s 35-14 victory over Las Vegas Bowl cash cow BYU on Saturday. (OK, so it was a black skirt and jacket-type thing. Close enough.)

And should pigskins fly, and Boise State beats TCU (or vice versa) in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10?

"We don’t think it’ll ever go to a playoff," Kunzer-Murphy said. "But if it does go to a playoff, I can tell you this: Our bowl game would be nonexistent."

When I suggested the Las Vegas Bowl (and its partners) can’t wait forever on Bobby Hauck and UNLV, and that its long-term viability might be better served by severing ties with the Mountain West and taking the 13th bowl-eligible team from the Big Ten instead, Kunzer-Murphy and her deputies wouldn’t touch it with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ 39½-foot pole, much less the 10-foot model.

But don’t let the rhetoric mislead you. This won’t be the first time the Las Vegas Bowl will consider going Julia Roberts on Lyle Lovett, should an opportunity arise.

Opportunities with BCS conferences almost always arise. Especially in Las Vegas. Trouble is, they usually are attached to a hefty price tag. That’s why Kunzer-Murphy says the price of playing bowl game poker soon might go up.

There might be blood. There might be lawsuits. There might be more long wind from Brock Huard.

And with BYU soon to be gone, there might be a lot of empty seats. 

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at or 702-383-0352.

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