More meaningful than meets the eye: Air Force coach Troy Calhoun did not refrain all week from praising the operation of the NOVA Home Loans Bowl, in its infancy, less than two years old.
This was more than coachspeak, diplomatically thanking the bowl for the opportunity to give his guys one last chance to play. Air Force is a legitimate program — the Arizona Bowl was its ninth postseason game in 10 years. The Falcons won their last six games to finish 10-3.
Any time a team wins 10 games, it expects a proper culmination to a season in an appropriate bowl.
“You talk about big-time potential with a bowl, this absolutely has it,” Calhoun said after his team scored 42 unanswered points to defeat South Alabama 45-21 yesterday in front of a respectable crowd of 33,868 at Arizona Stadium.
“Their practice set up is part of that, bowl venue, what they do for our guys, quality of the food, being a great, great venue here at the University of Arizona, and the tremendous support by the people of Tucson and this area.
“This could be one of those bowls here in seven or eight years and you say, ‘Whoa, we kind of had a hunch that would be the case.’ A phenomenal setup.”
South Alabama coach Joey Jones, a former Alabama standout receiver who played under Bear Bryant, knows a thing or two about bowl games. He said the Arizona Bowl is a “first class event.”
“From the day we got off the plane until tonight, first class,” Jones said. “It’s been a great experience for our players, a great experience for everybody in our organization. It was fun to be here.
“I don’t know how you get any better to be honest with you. I’ve been in a lot of bowls playing. Been in Cotton Bowls and different ones and this thing ranks right up there. It’s a very good, well-run bowl.”
It’s a message that Arizona Bowl chairman Ali Farhang and his committee can run with while communicating with conference commissioners and television executives.
Farhang said to the crowd at Thursday’s downtown block party — one of the many peripheral events that made the Arizona Bowl thrive — that his event will be watched more worldwide than many other bowls because of the availability of the game on the Web at CampusInsiders.com and through applications available on streaming devices.
He reiterated that stance last night on the field at Arizona Stadium.
“I think it’s appropriate, especially in this case when you have Air Force personnel all over the world, that they can see it wherever they are,” Farhang said.
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.