A new wrinkle in Conference USA’s bowl contract has the possibility of delivering its champion to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl to play the University of Hawaii.
Heretofore, the Hawaii Bowl has received the second pick — or a mutually agreed upon representative — from C-USA, while the champion has been earmarked for the Liberty Bowl.
But an official of ESPN Regional Television, which owns and operates the Hawaii Bowl and six other games, confirmed that a clause in the C-USA-Liberty Bowl agreement mandates the Liberty Bowl accept a Big East team to play a Southeastern Conference representative in the event the SEC cannot fulfill its obligation to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
In that case, according to Pete Derzis, ERT vice president, C-USA and the impacted team would choose among the available bowls the conference has ties with.
The SEC currently has eight bowl-eligible teams and needs nine to meet its bowl obligations.
"The trigger to the whole thing is what happens with the SEC," according to Derzis, who said there is no guarantee where an impacted team could wind up. "It continues to be a grab bag," Derzis said of possible C-USA bowl matchups this season.
If the C-USA champion were to be moved out of the Liberty Bowl this year, the scenario has the potential to provide a possible 10-3 UH team with an opponent of a 9-3 record and possible national ranking.
Three C-USA teams currently have 7-3 records with two games remaining: Central Florida, Southern Mississippi and Tulsa. UCF has been ranked but is not in the Top 25 this week. UH is 7-3 with three games remaining.
Meanwhile, Hawaii Bowl ticket sales are closing in on 25,000, said David Matlin, the game’s executive director.