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DETROIT — Now that the Bowling Green State University football team has won the Mid-American Conference title, two questions still linger.
One will impact the program in the here and now, while the other will have a long-term effect on the Falcons.
The first question is where BG will go bowling this season, and the second is whether coach Dave Clawson will leave the Falcons to coach a higher-profile program.
Shortly after Bowling Green beat No. 16 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday night, Clawson was noncommittal when asked if he thought he would coach the team in a bowl game.
“We’re going to enjoy [Friday’s win],” he said. “There were rumors a couple of years ago that I would get fired, and [the media] was asking me questions.
“Now that we are winning, you’re asking questions. … I don’t appreciate the question right now.”
A story in Saturday’s Winston-Salem Journal indicated Clawson would be a candidate for the head coaching position at Wake Forest, as would Ball State coach Pete Lembo.
Clawson also has been mentioned as a candidate for the job at UConn, and the team’s performance Friday night will be persuasive should other jobs open.
As for the second question, Bowling Green’s bowl destination will be formally announced later today, presumably around the time the BCS pairings are revealed.
Whispers around Friday’s championship game at Ford Field were that the Falcons would be a candidate to return to that site for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. That bowl will be played on Thursday, Dec. 26, and will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 6 p.m.
BG would be an alluring team for that bowl, in part because of the team’s strong ticket sales for the MAC championship game. The Falcons sold more than 4,000 tickets and sent 10 busloads of fans to the game.
Also, because the Big Ten won’t fulfill its agreement to provide an opponent to the MAC school in the contest, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will need to find an at-large opponent.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has 11 bowl-eligible teams and only nine bowl connections, which makes an ACC school a prime candidate to fill that vacancy. Since bowls try to match teams of similar caliber, the MAC will likely send one of its top schools to the game, putting the Falcons on the short list to play there.
“We would be thrilled with anyone that invites us to a bowl,” Clawson said. “We are fortunate in the MAC that we have three bowl tie-ins that have been loyal to us; they were there for us when a lot of people didn’t want MAC [schools].
“We’re not better than any bowl. If a bowl wants us, we’re going to be thrilled to be there.”
‘COSTLY’ WIN: Clawson was asked after the game about the Falcons’ victory costing Northern Illinois a spot in a BCS bowl, and thereby costing the MAC millions of dollars in revenue.
“I just can’t tell you how devastated I am right now,” he said sarcastically. “We won a championship, but we’re not going to be able to buy jock straps next year.”
He then turned to BG athletic director Chris Kingston and said, “Sorry, Chris.”
RECORDS WATCH: Bowling Green fell just two points shy of setting the team record for points in the MAC championship contest, and the Falcons’ 574 yards of total offense also fell just two yards shy of the record.
BG did set team records for completion percentage on its passes, connecting on 21-of-27 for 77.8 percent, and also set a record with five TD strikes. The Falcons also punted only once, which was a record for fewest in the game.
Individually, quarterback Matt Johnson set single-game records for touchdown passes (five) and completion percentage (77.8 percent). Freshman Ronnie Moore also broke a championship game record with his 36.25 yards per reception after catching four passes for 145 yards, all in the first quarter. Kicker Tyler Tate tied the game record by making a 52-yard field goal, and Aaron Foster’s 37-yard interception return was the longest in the game’s 17-year history.