Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Today is an exciting, historic day for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
This afternoon we announced that, commencing in 2014, our game will be played in the new San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. The state-of-the-art facility is scheduled to be completed in August of '14, four months before the Bowl. It will seat 68,500 and offer unprecedented technology and fan amenities.
We believe this move will give us the ability to take the game to the next level. The college football landscape has changed dramatically in recent months, with the advent of playoffs and seemingly non-stop conference realignment. This beautiful venue--and the increased seating capacity and revenue potential it provides--will help us attract better teams, secure additional sponsorship, and grow the game. Our teams will have the chance to play in a world-class NFL stadium that in all likelihood will host the Super Bowl, and our fans will have the chance to enjoy all the whistles and bells of a true, premier football facility. That combination will make our Bowl a more desirable destination for college football teams throughout the country and fans throughout the Bay Area. It is, as they say, a real game-changer.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the San Francisco Giants, who've been great hosts to us at AT&T Park since the game's inception. The Giants, led by Bowl co-founder and current Board member Pat Gallagher, helped launch the game. With their support, it has grown and prospered. We wouldn't be in a position to make this move without their help. I want to thank Larry Baer and Stephen Revetria for their understanding and support as we went through the process of evaluating and determining our future plans. The Giants will always be a part of this Bowl, and we will honor their contribution in an appropriate manner going forward.
I also want to recognize our Board of Directors chairman Jack Boland and strategic planning committee members Tom Hansen (chair), Jim Woolwine, Tyrone Willingham, Craig Morton and Bob Moore for their wisdom and counsel.
Finally, I want to thank 49ers Chief Operating Officer Paraag Marathe and Director of Football Administration Brian Hampton for working with me to craft an agreement that represents a true partnership between the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the Bowl.
Last week: Stanford and Baylor, the teams that boasted the top two players in college football last year (Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III), created havoc by knocking off the top two teams in the BCS standings on Saturday. The three-touchdown underdog Cardinal beat Oregon, 17-14, in overtime, while Baylor smashed Kansas State, 52-24. As a result, unbeaten Notre Dame ascended to No. 1 in both the human and computer polls.
Here at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the news continued to be very promising. Navy defeated Texas State, 21-10, to claim its seventh win of the year. The victory was particularly impressive from a defensive standpoint, as this was the same Texas State team that had scored 55 points against then No. 20 ranked Louisiana Tech a week earlier. The Midshipmen, now 7-4, hope to claim their eighth victory and the Commander in Chief's Trophy by winning the Army-Navy game on Dec. 8.
The news was also positive in the Pac-12, where Arizona State beat Washington State to become the league's eighth bowl-eligible team, and both Arizona and Washington won their seventh game of the year. The Wildcats beat Utah 34-24 and the Huskies thumped Colorado 38-3. The conference now has seven teams with seven or more wins--Oregon (10-1), Stanford and UCLA (both 9-2), Oregon State (8-2), and Arizona, Washington and USC (all 7-4). This means that we will be able to select a Pac-12 team with at least seven wins, creating a very attractive matchup with Navy.
This week: Lots of important games in the Pac-12. Stanford meets UCLA in the Rose Bowl, needing a win to clinch the Northern Division title. Since the Bruins already have won the Southern Division, the two teams could meet again in the Pac-12 Championship game on Nov. 30. Oregon State hosts Oregon in Corvallis in another game that could impact the league championship. If Stanford loses to UCLA and Oregon beats OSU, the Ducks win the division. If Stanford and Oregon both win or lose, creating a tie in the standings, the Cardinal would be the division champ in either scenario based on head-to-head wins over the Ducks and Beavers.
At this point, depending on whether two Pac-12 teams move up to BCS bowls, we will have a choice between two or three teams. The teams most likely to be in our selection pool are Arizona, Washington, and Arizona State, although there is a chance that USC or Oregon State might be available. I will attend the Arizona State-Arizona game in Tucson Friday night. We'll also be following the Washington-Washington State game in Pullman very closely, as well as Oregon at Oregon State and Notre Dame at USC.
Selections will be made on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 2, after the conference championship games are played on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and the BCS bowls make their picks Sunday morning. As we're reminded seemingly every weekend, a lot could change between now and then.