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Bowl may come to Salt Lake

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Going bowling could take on a whole new meaning for the BYU and Utah football teams.

If the NCAA Licensing Subcommittee approves a proposal for the "Rocky Mountain Bowl," the Cougars or Utes (or any other Mountain West Conference team) could end up facing a Western Athletic Conference foe in a postseason game at Rice-Eccles Stadium — possibly as early as this December.

A Salt Lake City group led by David Viveiros has contacted both conferences to gauge initial interest and has submitted a proposal to the NCAA for certification. It's currently being evaluated and reviewed by a subcommittee. Approval or denial could come as soon as April 29 at licensing meetings in Florida.

The University of Utah athletics department declined comment on the matter, referring inquiries to the MWC since the school isn't directly involved with the proposed game.

The conference currently has direct affiliations with bowl games in Las Vegas, San Diego, Fort Worth and Albuquerque — as well as a rotating contingency deal in Houston.

"We are optimistic about the possibilities for the Rocky Mountain Bowl," MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said in a released statement.

"For the past three seasons, the MWC has had five teams bowl-eligible. We've had to depend upon the system for vacancies and have had to work creatively to find slots for our fifth team. Licensing of the Rocky Mountain Bowl will provide us an opportunity to guarantee that fifth bowl game for our membership."

The conference has been approached in the past about possible games in places like Denver and Oklahoma City, but none advanced as far as the Salt Lake City proposal.

USA Today reported that groups from Washington, D.C., and St. Petersburg, Fla., have also submitted proposals to the subcommittee for certification. The media outlet noted that seven bowl-eligible teams were left out of the 32 sanctioned games last season.

Southern Mississippi athletic director Richard Giannini, who is chairman of the NCAA Licensing Subcommittee, told USA Today that the group will look at those numbers in making their decisions.

"The worst thing would be to sanction a new bowl and not have enough teams to fill those bowls," he said.

Besides the Rocky Mountain Bowl, the other proposals include the Congressional Bowl (pitting Army or Navy against an ACC opponent at Nationals Park) and the St. Petersburg Bowl (featuring the Big East and Conference USA at Tropicana Field).

E-mail: dirk@desnews.com