BOISE — What do you get when you combine a short advance notice, a cross country flight, and steep travel costs?
An attendance number no one at the University of Toledo is proud of.
The school has sold only about 300 tickets for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, a minuscule number that reflects myriad burdens Rockets fans encountered — and apparently could not overcome — after learning of their team’s postseason assignment less than two weeks prior to the game.
Aside from slight embarrassment, and a possible stigma that Toledo fans do not travel well to bowl games, there will be no ramification for scant ticket sales. The school will not be required to pay for any of 2,000 tickets that go unsold.
Utah State, whose hometown of Logan is about a seven-hour drive to Boise, has sold more than 3,000 of its 4,000 allotted tickets, thus diminishing the idea of Saturday’s match up being contested at a neutral site.
Rockets coach Matt Campbell on Wednesday called Toledo fans — many of whom purchased a record number of season tickets at the Glass Bowl — "some of the best in college football," and understands their unwillingness to travel to the game.
"If they could be here they would," he said. "I know our support back home will be tremendous."
More than 20 watch parties have been scheduled throughout the country, according to Toledo alumni association executive director, Dan Saevig.
"The odds are always against Toledo," receiver Bernard Reedy said. "We probably had 300 fans at Arizona and we took them into overtime."
Utah State coach Gary Andersen, whose team will play in this bowl for the second year in a row, believes his team will enjoy a pseudo home field advantage on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium.
"We’re close to home and that’s one of the things we love the most about the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl," he said. "Quite simply it’s kind of a home venue for us."
INVITATIONS ON THE HORIZON? Seniors Dan Molls and Jermaine Robinson are generating interest from the NFL, Campbell said, and could soon land an invitation to play in a postseason all star game. Neither has pulled in an offer from the Senior Bowl — the premier showcase of senior talent — which added 13 players to its roster Wednesday to bring the total to 37. Fifteen will be added next Wednesday.
The East-West Shrine Game and Texas vs. The Nation are other possibilities.
"Those guys are probably the two we’ve gotten the most feedback on from NFL scouting," Campbell said.
PIKE HONORED: Rockets defensive end Ben Pike is the team’s honoree of the Humanitarian Award, to presented at a dinner Thursday evening. Pike, a fourth-year junior who will forgo his senior season after getting married this summer, earned the distinction based on his participating in numerous community projects. Pike, of Mentor, Ohio, helps out with the football and basketball teams at his alma mater during semester breaks. Campbell said the team’s coaches and captains voted on which player to receive the award.
"I think everyone unanimously picked Ben," he said.
Seniors safety McKade Brady will be honored for Utah State.
ROCKETS WIN: Running back David Fluellen’s strike late in the game punctuated a win for Toledo in a bowling match Tuesday evening against Utah State. By prevailing — final score: 310-248 — the Rockets won the first prize donation of 450 pounds of potatoes and 100 pounds of ground beef to be given to the Beach House Family Shelter of Toledo. The Aggies won 300 pounds of potatoes and 100 pounds of beef to its charity.
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