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Memphis’ bowl loss last year: Don’t blame the beer
Posted Dec 18, 2008 by Brett McMurphy
Updated Dec 18, 2008 at 11:04 AM
The leader in the clubhouse so far for best quote in St. Petersburg Bowl history goes to Memphis coach Tommy West. When asked Wednesday about if his team has a curfew this week or if they had one last year when the Tigers lost to FAU 44-27 in the New Orleans Bowl, West said:
“What hurt us was we weren’t very good on defense,” West said. “That hurt us a lot more than the beer we drank. I think us not being any good on defense was why we gave up 44 points, not because we had been drinking all week. We played really good on offense, so the defense must have stayed out late last year and the offense went to bed.”
USF has had a 12:30 a.m. curfew the past two nights, West said the Tigers didn’t have one Tuesday night.
“I wanted them to get out and kind of enjoy themselves the first night out,” West said. “I’ve found through the years that curfew is something that really is just kind of a nuisance. It’s something where they’ve got to come back and as soon as you go to bed they’re right back out. So really instead of me making them come back to the hotel and go back out, I just let them stay out.
“I was in college one time, too. ... These kids, it’s kind of different nowadays than when I grew up. We were coming in at 12, 1 o’clock back then. Now they’re just going out.”
IT TAKES TWO: USF and Kentucky each received bowl bids this season after winning only two conference games, only the third and fourth teams to do so.
Year Team Conf. Bowl result
2008 USF 2-5 Plays Memphis in St. Pete Bowl
2008 Kentucky 2-6 Plays East Carolina in Liberty Bowl
2006 Iowa 2-6 Lost to Texas 26-24 in Alamo Bowl
2002 Wisc. 2-6 Beat Colorado 31-28 (OT) in Alamo Bowl
With 57 percent of the 120 Division I-A teams receiving bowl bids this season, it has become much easier to get a bowl bid than in past years. Just ask the University of South Florida and Kentucky.
The Bulls went 2-5 in the Big East, and the Wildcats went 2-6 in the SEC, yet both were among 68 teams to get a bowl berth - only the third and fourth teams to receive a bid with two league wins.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose Hawkeyes in 2006 were the last team with two league wins to get a bowl bid, said “you could argue” there are too many bowl games. He said 2006 was “the most disappointing year we’ve had.
“For me as a coach, I felt like that was the worst job I’ve done,” Ferentz said. “Primarily because we started out 5-1, then we went 1-5. We didn’t improve, bottom line. We got what we deserved.
“You would probably never classify getting just two wins in your league as a successful season. At the same time, if you have the opportunity to go to a bowl, you take it, because it can really serve as a springboard for the following season.”
USF coach Jim Leavitt said his team deserved a bid. “I think you go by the overall season,” said Leavitt, whose team was 3-4 against bowl teams. “You can always go by this or that. I think they’ve done a great job.”
ODDS AND ENDS: USF has about 1,000 tickets remaining, and fans who purchase a bowl ticket through GoUSFBulls.com will receive a free ticket to the men’s basketball game against Syracuse on Jan. 2. Tickets are $30 for non-students and $10 for students. ... ESPN.com ranked the St. Pete Bowl as the fourth-worst matchup, L.A. Times columnist Chris Dufresne ranked it as the second-worst. “Title sponsor magicJack not a pill to keep cross-country truckers awake at night, although this game could use a pick-me-upper.”