According to his contract, Dennis Erickson should receive a $25,000 bonus for getting his team to a bowl game. Looks like he will collect, since Arizona State has been invited to play in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas three days before Christmas.
But Erickson, who was fired just eight days ago but is expected to be on the sidelines for one last game, probably isn’t focused on the money.
The Sun Devils have drawn Boise State for their bowl match-up on the UNLV campus. And that gives Erickson and his staff a chance to earn some vindication by beating a high-profile BCS-calibre team that is ranked No. 8 in the nation – and on national television.
Boise State was a missed field goal from running the table this year with an undefeated season and a chance at a major bowl. Their only loss came against Texas Christian, a 36-35 heart-breaker in their ninth game of the season.
So the Broncos, who are making their 10th straight bowl trip, can’t be too thrilled about playing in the MAACO Bowl, despite the happy face they’re putting on it for PR purposes. They no doubt had visions of the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl, one of those that carry prestige and pay out the big money.
This is the second consecutive year that Boise State feels they’ve been hosed by the BCS, getting overlooked for an at-large bid despite an 11-1 record and top-10 ranking.
When they got snubbed last year, they ended up in the MAACO Bowl. So this is their second straight appearance.
Last year they took it out on Utah, which was ranked No. 20 at the time, by rolling over the Utes, 26-3.
This year, they will likely take out their frustration on the Sun Devils.
ASU jumped out to a strong start this season, with a 6-2 mark and a spot in the AP Top 25. But a collapse at the end of the season left Erickson with a 6-6 finish and his fourth year of failing to produce a winning season.
If the coaching staff can pull this group together one more time to resemble the early-season team that beat schools like USC, Missouri, or Utah, they might have a chance to upset the Broncos.
They’ve only met the Broncos once before, in a 1996 game in Tempe. The Devils won that one big, 56-7.
This next meeting won’t resemble the outcome of that game 15 years ago.
But, if ASU brings it’s ‘A’ game, Erickson could go out with his head held high.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)