The Warhawks are on the cusp of playing in their first ever bowl game this coming Friday December 28th. ULM will take on the Ohio Bobcats in the Advocare V100 independence Bowl on ESPN at 1PM. With all of the excitement of playing a bowl game, Warhawk Nation is taking a look at what goes on behind closed doors. Who better to talk to than the man that was wheeling and dealing the Warhawks first bowl game, ULM Athletic Directory Bobby Staub.
"Every bowl committee has a different structure on what they are trying to accomplish". 'Obviously with the Independence Bowl they have two tie-in's, the SEC and ACC".
"When it didn't look like we (ULM) would win the conference outright, we felt that Lafayette would end up in New Orleans for a lot of different reasons". "Primarily because they did such a good job last year selling tickets, and they are doing it again this year".
"When that happened and knowing that the champion would end up in Mobile, that leaves three teams in our league that are "free agents".
"Our relationship with the Independence Bowl really started on November 19th, which was the Monday after the North Texas game. Myself, the athletic director at ULL (Scott Farmer), and Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson went and visited them. We spoke to their committee about not only how good the individual schools were, but the Sun Belt conference as a whole".
Warhawk Nation- When did the Independence Bowl start to become a reality?
Bobby Staub"I would say probably 10 days or so before the bowl selection show was going to take place, we continued to have dialogue back and forth". "Let me back up a little bit and say when we became bowl eligible, we felt there was probably 10 bowl possibilities for us. As the season went along they started to get narrowed down to 5 or 6 due to bowls fulfilling their obligations".
"We also continued to talk with some folks from ESPN because they are really influential with the bowl setup and I think our commissioner did a really good job of putting teams in their geographical foot print as best he could". He felt the New Orleans bowl aligned best for Lafayette and the Independence Bowl aligned best for us".
Warhawk Nation- It's crunch time, how did ULM sell itself to the Independence Bowl or any bowl?
Bobby Staub"Towards the end the Independence Bowl was wanting to find an AQ (Automatic Qualifier) team and I understand that, lot of things go into that TV, ect". "With ULM being in a non AQ situation my thought process was how do position ourselves as the best non AQ possibility that the Independence bowl could have". "We (ULM) made it very apparent to them through my conversations and our presidents conversations that hey we want to be in Shreveport. You are our #1 choice, we want to be there. Our alumni did a good job of letting the Independence Bowl know this is where we want to be, we're excited, and we are going to show up and I think that went a long way". "You know bowls are just like anyone else, they want to take people that want to be there and it was quite apparent that our folks made it clear that this was our #1 choice, this is where we want to be, it's the most covenant bowl for all of our alum's. "The bowl system is not a fair system. You got teams that went 2-6 in conference and are going bowling. We could have been left out just as easily as Middle Tennessee or LaTech. We had some other bowls we were communicating with in case things didn't work out but the bottom line is if you don't have a good situation prior to that last weekend, and some strange things happen (Northern Illinois), then it's going to be out of your hands". It's almost too late at that point".
"We thought our champion (Arkansas State) was going to the Liberty Bowl but when Iowa State got put back in the pool, that didn't happen". "If there had been two AQ's available for the Independence Bowl, it may of knocked us out". "All I could do was say if there is a non AQ school going to the Independence bowl, I want to be your #1 choice and I think at the end of the day we were their #1 choice".
Warhawk Nation- First bowl game ever and in the same year as the 25 year anniversary of our National Championship. How has life changed since you got that phone call?
Bobby Staub"The energy level around here has been phenomenal because of the excitement that has been created". "We are feeding off our fans and our alums because they are so excited, I got people coming from all over the country coming to this game". "It energizes us to see the community, our alums, and our students who are buying up tickets at a pretty good clip".
Warhawk Nation- How are ticket sales going(that just ULM has sold) and why is it so important tickets are bought through ULM?
Bobby Staub"Sale are doing great, we hit 10,000 recently and hope to reach that 11-12,000 number by next week". "A portion of the proceeds come back to us if you buy through ULM. We don't get anything through stub hub or any other outside source, so it's critical that they buy through us". "It's also important that we show up in a big way because we are auditioning for that next bowl appearance". The first thing all those bowl committees are going to do is go look at how we turned out for the Independence Bowl". "That is how their business models, they want to know who is going to travel, so its critically important that we show up". "If we don't show up then shame on us, but if we do all its going to do is boost our resume this time next year".