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Will the Ducks find their bowl empty?

Byline: BOB CLARK The Register-Guard

What if there wasn't a bowl at all for Oregon to play in?

`If we're not going,' UO linebacker Kevin Mitchell said Monday as the Ducks returned to the practice field, `you mean we're out here practicing for nothing?'

Well, possibly.

The two postseason games that Oregon would most likely play in, the Silicon Valley Classic and the Seattle Bowl, still had not met requirements to be certified by the NCAA at the close of business Monday, which was the extension of the original Nov. 1 deadline to prove the games were financially viable.

`We won't do any panicking until (today),' said Jim Muldoon, Pac-10 chief spokesman. `It's kind of out of our hands right now.'

Both the Seattle Bowl and the Silicon Valley Classic need to show a line of credit to the NCAA that verifies the games could make the financial payoffs to the participating teams, listed at $1 million each for the game in Seattle and the mandated minimum of $750,000 for the San Jose game.

Jim Haugh, the president of the Seattle Bowl, said late Monday all the information required for certification of his game `has been submitted and is under review' by the NCAA.

`They gave us a little more time to get all our ducks in line,' Haugh added of the deadline extension.

A spokesman for the Silicon Valley Classic said Monday evening `we don't have any news or official comment at this time,' but said the bowl would have an announcement this morning. The Silicon Valley Classic has been seeking additional sponsorship in recent weeks, and working with a bank in the San Jose area to provide the line of credit.

If both of those bowls aren't certified and don't take place this season, there might not be an opening for the Ducks.

`There's not a heck of a lot else out there,' Muldoon said. `We'll try to find something if it is there.'

UO director of athletics Bill Moos said Monday that Oregon has been considering only the Seattle Bowl and Silicon Valley Classic as options in making bowl plans.

All of the other bowls have contracts with leagues to fill their berths, with the possible exception of the Hawaii Bowl. It could have an opening for an opponent to play the University of Hawaii, if Conference USA doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of its five contracted berths. That would happen if Cincinnati (6-6) loses on Friday to East Carolina (4-7).

BACK AT IT: Oregon held its first practice on Monday since the Civil War loss to Oregon State, the longest break the Ducks have had since the summer.

`It's weird,' UO quarterback Jason Fife said. `It feels like we haven't practiced for months.'

Mitchell said it was `good to get away from everything and regroup' over the Thanksgiving break, but `I didn't know what to do with myself.'

Andy Ludwig, the UO offensive coordinator, said the emphasis on workouts this week would be on the younger players, many of whom have served as the scout team that mimicked opponents for the UO regulars during the past season.

`The key thing is to get our younger players exposed to our system again,' Ludwig said. `We've got to get them back in tune' with the Oregon system.

Ludwig said the Ducks are looking at a bowl `as a reward for the senior class for all the things they've done for the University of Oregon. For the rest of us it's a springboard to the 2003 season.'

Ludwig directed Monday's practice along with the other two coordinators, Nick Aliotti of the defense and Robin Ross of the special teams. Mike Bellotti, the UO head coach, and the other assistants were handling recruiting duties.

The Ducks are scheduled to practice again Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before taking another break during the week of final examinations for fall term.

POSSIBLE FOES: If there is a Seattle Bowl in Oregon's future, the opponent will come from the Atlantic Coast Conference with Virginia (8-5), Georgia Tech (7-5) or Wake Forest (6-6) under consideration.

Not that the Ducks are concerned with a scouting report yet.

`What's important now is getting our younger guys (practice) reps,' Ludwig said. `No matter who we play, the (bowl) game is going to be about the Ducks.'

If Oregon is in the Silicon Valley Classic, it will be a rematch with Fresno State, which led going into the fourth quarter on Sept. 7 at Autzen Stadium before the Ducks rallied for a 28-24 win.

`I don't necessarily want to play Fresno just because we played them already this year, but if that's the way the chips lie, then that's the way we're going to have to do it,' Fife said.

Asked about a preference on bowls, Mitchell said `one is on the 30th, the other the 31st. I don't think there's any preference.'

UTAH SEARCH: Ludwig's name has been listed in Salt Lake City newspapers as a possible candidate for the head job at Utah, where he spent a season a decade ago as a graduate assistant, but the UO offensive coordinator said Monday he hadn't been contacted by the Utes.

`I don't expect to be,' Ludwig said. `I've got some Utah ties and my name has come up with that job but there's nothing official to it. It's just rumor, unsubstantiated.'

BOWL TICKETS: While Oregon won't know its bowl destination until Sunday, the Ducks do have a Thursday deadline to place orders for Silicon Valley Classic tickets and have a priority status for seating. Tickets for the game on Dec. 31 in San Jose are priced at $50, and there is a handling charge of $10 for each order.

A UO spokesman said if Oregon is in the Seattle Bowl, tickets for the Dec. 30 game won't go on sale until Monday. They are priced at $53, and there also will be a $10 handling charge on each order.
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Title Annotation:UO Football Notes: Silicon Valley, Seattle not yet certified by NCAA.; Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 3, 2002
Previous Article:Oregon soars to No. 7 in AP poll.
Next Article:OSU athlete dies after car crash.

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