With two weeks remaining in college football’s regular season — and an additional round of conference championship games — no team’s bowl fate has been officially sealed.
Tuesday, however, the Kansas University football team received a strong vote of confidence from representatives of the Insight Bowl, held Dec. 31 in Tempe, Ariz.
“They’re one of the two that we want,” said Dave Tilson, chairman of the board for the Fiesta Bowl, a sister bowl to the Insight Bowl. “In other words, if it gets down to one or two or three, they are clearly in our target. They’re in our wheelhouse. They’re the kind of team we want to have come, where people are coming, (and) they’re going to enjoy themselves.”
The Insight Bowl traditionally takes the No. 6 team from the Big 12 and the No. 6 team from the Big 10 — although various developments, such as two Big 12 teams qualifying for BCS bowls, could alter that slightly — and features a payout of $1.2 million per team. Kansas, which is also considered a candidate for the Sun Bowl and Independence Bowl, is currently seventh in the Big 12 with a record of 6-5 (3-4 in conference play).
According to Tilson, Insight Bowl representatives have been in attendance at four Kansas games so far this season, more than just about any other Big 12 team, and have liked the fact that the Jayhawks have stayed competitive despite enduring one of the harsher schedules in the conference.
“They had the roughest schedule in the North against those guys,” Tilson said. “And I think you guys have hung in those games. You’ve played hard. Not one was a crazy blowout by any stretch of the imagination. You guys showed a lot of great football prowess.”
It probably doesn’t hurt, either, that the Fiesta Bowl has a recent — albeit brief — history with the Jayhawks. Before Kansas accepted an invitation to the Orange Bowl last season, where the team would go on to win its first BCS Bowl in school history, members of the Fiesta Bowl committee made a push for the Jayhawks.
The deal wasn’t able to be completed, resulting in Oklahoma making its second straight trip to the Fiesta Bowl, but the situation helped familiarize the committee with Kansas football.
While bowl projections are a fickle beast — by this time next week, the postseason outlook could be significantly different — a New Year’s holiday in Tempe for the Jayhawks seems, for the moment, a distinct possibility.
And with the Kansas men’s basketball team taking on Arizona University in Tucson on Dec. 23, Jayhawks fans longing for a reprieve from the winter cold could find plenty to do in sunny Arizona.
“We want to get them out of the cold weather,” Tilson said of Kansas fans. “You guys aren’t growing any corn at that time of the year. If you’re not growing corn, you might as well get in those dualies and get on out here.”