Mid-American gets second bowl

Thursday, April 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ The Mid-American Conference will send a team to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The former Mobile Alabama Bowl, which will pit teams from the MAC and Conference USA on Dec. 19, gives two bowl tie-ins to a league that for years has sought to reward good programs which didn't win the conference championship.

``I think this speaks of the overall quality in the MAC and recognizes what the coaches are doing,'' MAC spokesman Gary Richter said Thursday. ``It ensures your division champions a bowl game, basically.''

In previous years, the winner of the MAC championship game went to the Motor City Bowl. Now, the league will choose which teams it sends to either bowl, Richter said from the MAC office in Cleveland.

Marshall has won the league title every year since rejoining the MAC in 1997 and has gone to four straight Motor City Bowls.

Miami (Ohio) went 10-1 in 1998 but didn't receive a bowl bid. Last year, Western Michigan and Toledo finished with better records than Marshall.

The league will decide which team will be a better draw for Motor City fans. Teams from Michigan and northern Ohio likely would generate more ticket sales than the Herd, whose fans face an eight-hour drive from Huntington.

Marshall doesn't feel slighted by the move.

``Marshall's excited about any opportunity to go to a bowl and would be extremely excited about going to the Mobile bowl,'' said coach Bob Pruett, who was giving speeches this week at LSU, Tulane, and Louisiana Tech.

``It's down south where a lot of our fan base is,'' Pruett said. ``We're a southern recruiting team.''

The GMAC Bowl has a $750,000 payout, the same as the Motor City Bowl. Both bowls will be affiliated with the MAC and Conference USA. Their sponsors are General Motors Corp. and its finance arm, GMAC; Ford Motor Co.; and Daimler Chrysler AG.

The GMAC Bowl will be played at the 40,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Conference USA will be the host team in the GMAC Bowl, while the MAC will continue to be the host for the Motor City Bowl.

GMAC Bowl officials had discussions with the Western Athletic Conference, with which it was aligned the last two seasons, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the MAC.

In 2000, GMAC paid $500,000 for the right to have its name on the Mobile bowl logo, but bowl officials were hoping the game would attract a title sponsor.

The city of Mobile had acted as the title sponsor for the first two games, budgeting about $1 million each year for the game. GMAC will relieve the city of that investment.

Neither Mobile officials nor GMAC would confirm an amount the company is paying for title rights, but it was believed to be about $1 million.