Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
On Saturday afternoon, we officially invited the Naval Academy to play in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Moments after the conclusion of Navy's 24-17 win over Florida Atlantic, which gave the Midshipmen their bowl-eligibiity-clinching sixth victory, I extended the invitation to Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk. I was down in Pasadena at the time, en route to the Arizona-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. My wife and I had been following the Navy game on ESPN ScoreCenter while we received detailed updates from our Corporate and Community Relations Manager, Amy Gardner. When the game ended, I pulled over to the side of the road and reached Chet on his cell phone in the Navy locker room, just as he was about to address the team. Our timing was perfect, and the invitation was met by rousing cheers. (I look forward to re-issuing our invitation in person at the Army-Navy game on Dec. 8 in Philadelphia).
This particular team selection was unique in that it came earlier in the season than usual. We'd been in contact with Navy throughout the week, and decided that there was no reason to wait. If Navy won on Saturday, we'd announce the invitation immediately to get a jump on game promotion and ticket sales. Our director of communications, Doug Kelly, and Navy Sports Information Director Scott Strasemeier hammered out the press release, which was ready to go. So they literally hit "send" as the game ended and Scott distributed the announcement in the press box at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. By moving quickly, we also had the distinction of becoming the first of 35 bowls to identify one of its participants this year.
The Midshipmen are very excited to return to San Francisco, where they defeated New Mexico in our 2004 game, and we are equally excited to have them back. They bring a huge fan base, a national following, great pageantry, and one of the hottest football teams in America. We look forward to providing a memorable experience for the Navy players and fans, and hosting a great matchup with the Pac-12 on Dec. 29.