Cougars And Bruins Meet The Las Vegas Media
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Official
Team Announcement Held At ESPNZONE
LAS VEGAS - At a media conference Thursday at the ESPN Zone located inside the New York-New York Hotel on the famed Las Vegas Strip, the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl officially welcomed BYU (10-2/8-0/1st) of the Mountain West Conference and UCLA (6-6/5-4/T-4th) of the Pacific-10 Conference.
The event marked the official start of activities for the Thursday, Dec. 22nd (5 p.m. PST on ESPNHD) showdown between the Cougars and the Bruins at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Representatives from the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gathered on the Strip to welcome the head coaches and athletic administrators from BYU and UCLA in true Las Vegas fashion. The press conference also featured appearances by two player representatives: BYU's Matt Allen, a senior wide receiver, and UCLA's Chris Horton, a senior First Team All-Pac-10 honoree at strong safety.
The 16th edition of the game features a matchup between two institutions that are both making their third trip to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. The two-time defending conference champion Cougars, who were ranked 17th in the final BCS standings are participating for the third straight year, marking the most all-time appearances by any MWC program. BYU defeated Oregon 38-8 last year after losing its first trip to the game, 35-28, to California in 2005. UCLA, which was ranked as high as 11th this season, becomes the first Pac-10 team to play in three Pioneer Las Vegas Bowls. The Bruins defeated New Mexico 27-13 in their first trip in 2002 and then were downed by Wyoming 24-21 in 2004.
This will be the second meeting between BYU and UCLA this year as the Bruins defeated the Cougars 27-17 during the regular season on Sept. 8 in Los Angeles. It will also mark the third rematch in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history. Hometown UNLV avenged an earlier road loss by crushing Central Michigan 52-24 in 1994 and Toledo ended up sweeping the University of Nevada by winning 40-37 in 1995 during what was the first overtime game ever played on the Division I-A level.
''A rematch of BYU and UCLA, both teams that have spent time in the national rankings this season, will bring two of the biggest names in college football to Las Vegas for what is sure to be a memorable battle,'' Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said. ''We are delighted another sell-out crowd will be on hand at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 22nd to watch the 16th edition of the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl.''
This will be the ninth meeting between the two Western powers with UCLA having earned a commanding 7-1 advantage. BYU won the first game in 1983 and the Bruins have won seven straight, including 2007's clash at the Rose Bowl.
Holding an 8-16-1 all-time record in bowl games, BYU (No. 19 AP/19 Coaches) is the third ranked team to ever appear in a Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (the Cougars were 19/20 last year and Air Force was 21/23 when it faced Oregon in 1997's game). BYU, which is led by third-year head coach Bronco Mendenhall, is no stranger to Sam Boyd Stadium, having compiled an impressive a 9-2 record in Las Vegas, which includes two appearances in the Western Athletic Conference championship game during the 1990s.
"We are excited about our football team and the great things it has accomplished over the past three seasons,'' said BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe. ''Coach Mendenhall, his staff and the players deserve a tremendous amount of credit for getting this program where it is today and as a result, we're excited to be participating in our third straight bowl game."
Earning its 29th bowl trip overall, UCLA this fall defeated two teams that were ranked in the top 12 at the time of the game and are led by interim head coach DeWayne Walker. The Bruins are 13-14-1 all-time in bowl games. Despite falling to Florida State
in last year's Emerald Bowl, UCLA has the most bowl victories ? 11 ? of any Pac-10 team in the last quarter century. That same win total also ranks ninth in the nation over the same span.
''We have certainly enjoyed our two previous trips to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl,'' said UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero. ''Our players and staff have thoroughly enjoyed themselves at the various events and the hospitality of Tina Kunzer-Murphy and her staff is second to none.''
Overall, Pac-10 Conference teams have played in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl seven times and hold a 4-3 record. Schools now in the MWC have combined to play in 11 such games and hold a 6-5 record, including an impressive 5-3 mark since splitting from the WAC and forming the new league in 1999.
Players, coaches, administrators and fans from both teams will enjoy a complete bowl experience combined with the unmatched entertainment and attractions of Las Vegas, a world-renowned event and resort destination that attracts nearly 40 million visitors each year. As part of Bowl Week, the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl will host events at some of the city's most exciting venues. The event lineup includes a Welcome Reception at the ESPN Zone (Wednesday, Dec. 19); Show Night in Las Vegas at K� by Cirque du Soleil (Dec. 19); Sunrise Children's Hospital Visit (Thursday, Dec. 20); the Outback Buffet Bowl and Pep Rally at the Golden Nugget/Fremont Street Experience (Dec. 20); and the annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Friday, Dec. 21).
The Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, will be televised live on ESPN and ESPNHD, beginning at 5:00 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, Dec. 22. Brad Nessler will handle the play-by-play duties alongside analysts Bob Greise and Paul Maguire while Bonnie Bernstein will report from the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast on the Sports USA Radio Network. Tom Dillon will handle play-by-play while former UNLV and NFL coach John Robinson will serve as analyst.
Sam Boyd Stadium will once again serve as the host venue for the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. Last year's edition attracted a sold-out state-record attendance of 44,615, which included an additional 4,100 temporary bleachers in the end zones. This year, organizers announced the addition of a new seating area in the venue's North End Zone that will offer unprecedented views of the game. Taking the place of the temporary bleachers will be the new La-Z-Boy Comfort Zone Club at the Field. The raised and heated area will include complimentary food and beverage and fans can watch the action on the field a few feet away or on the surrounding Pioneer HDTV plasma televisions. A limited number of tickets for the exclusive area are still available by calling (702) 732-3912.
This will mark the third consecutive sellout for the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. Tickets not designated for the participating teams sold out on October 17 ? nearly two months before either school had been invited.
Additional information about the game is available at lvbowl.com.
COMMENTS FROM THURSDAY'S
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
MEDIA CONFERENCE HELD AT THE ESPNZONE AT THE NEW YORK-NEW YORK HOTEL
Tina Kunzer-Murphy, Executive Director Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
''It is my pleasure to welcome both BYU and UCLA back to our city as both teams are making their third trip to our bowl games. In just two weeks, we are going to open our doors and turn on the lights and welcome two of the biggest names in college football, the Mountain West Champion BYU Cougars and the tradition-rich (UCLA) Bruins.''
''(BYU Athletic Director) Tom Holmoe, Coach Mendenhall -- congratulations on a fabulous year and once again coming back home to Las Vegas with your championship and your great Cougar fans and your wonderful football team. Dan Guerrero, my great friend. And coach Dewayne Walker, I look forward to working with you in the next few weeks and I know you're going to bring a fired-up Bruins team here in 16 days.''
''Having two major programs with such great tradition squaring off against each other in the postseason is one of the many reasons we love college football. Thanks to all of you for being here and congratulations on a great year.''
Rob Dondero, President of Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Executive Committee
''What an incredible (college football) year this was. This is the third rematch we're going to have in this bowl game's history. Both BYU and UCLA both have a victory in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl so we'll see who gets the next one.''
Roberta Trapp, Director of Marketing Communications for Pioneer Electronics
''On behalf of Pioneer Electronics, I'd like to say how excited we are to be back for the fourth year as the title sponsor of this amazing event.''
''We'd like to congratulate BYU's Cougars and the UCLA Bruins. With such high-caliber teams, and extraordinary football tradition this is sure to be the game to watch.''
Tom Holmoe, BYU Athletics Director
''It's very nice to be back in Las Vegas playing in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. For the first 13 years of the bowl, BYU was never a participant, but this is now our third straight season playing in the game, and we are very excited to be here.
''In the Mountain West Conference, if you win the championship of the conference, the first pick goes to Las Vegas. We know as champions this is a game that we earned to be in in Las Vegas. So make no mistake about it, this is a game that we intended to be at, we're excited to be back, and we're happy to be here.''
''We love Las Vegas because we have so many fans that live down here, and we'll being in a lot of fans so it's great to be back.''
Bronco Mendenhall, BYU Head Football Coach
''On behalf of our football program, our university, we're thrilled to be back. We're excited also for the respect we have for the UCLA Bruins, having already played once this year, and losing to a team that we think is an exceptional team. We have tremendous respect for our opponent, the way they play and the tradition of their school.''
Matt Allen, BYU Wide Reciever
''On behalf of the players at Brigham Young University, I'd just like to echo the sentiments of Tom Holmoe and Coach Mendenhall and just say how excited we are to be coming back to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl for the third-straight year, and second straight as conference champions.''
''We are really excited to be matched up against the Bruins, such worthy opponents in Pasadena, and we look forward to another great game in a few weeks.''
Dan Guerrero, UCLA Athletics Director
''On behalf of the UCLA Bruins, it is indeed a pleasure for us to be back here in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. We'd like to thank Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the LVCVA and everyone else affiliated with putting on this great experience.''
''I'd like to extend congratulations to the BYU Cougars for their fantastic year; being the champions of the MWC is indeed a very worthy accomplishment and we know that we have a formidable opponent in the BYU Cougars.''
DeWayne Walker, UCLA Football Interim Head Coach
''On behalf of the UCLA Bruins we are very flattered to be invited to your Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. This is a great opportunity for our football game. It gives our seniors a chance to complete their careers, while also giving our underclassmen a chance to continue to develop as student-athletes.''
Chris Horton, UCLA Strong Safety
''First, I'd like to thank Las Vegas for having us up here to be able to play in this game. We know what kind of team BYU is, and I can assure it's a game you won't want to miss. If you watched this game earlier in the year, you saw two teams that got after each other.''
''The Bruins are coming to town and we're going to be ready to play, and I know BYU is going to be ready to play, and we're really excited to play in this game.''