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Originally published Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 5:19 PM

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Why Holiday Bowl executive is happy to have Washington

Others are panning the Huskies rematch against Nebraska in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl, executive director Bruce Binkowski says he's glad he landed Washington.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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As the dust settles on the college football bowl lineup, many peg the Washington-Nebraska rematch as one worth missing.

"The worst idea for a sequel since Weekend at Bernie's II," wrote Stewart Mandel of SI.com, ranking it 20th of the 35 games.

But the executive director of the Holiday Bowl, who acknowledges he was at one point eyeing Notre Dame, insists he isn't bummed about Washington crashing his party.

"Would it have been cool to have Notre Dame? Sure," said Bruce Binkowski. "But we are a Pac-10 bowl. We are not disappointed at all."

And one thing that wipes away any second thoughts is that the Holiday Bowl has most of its tickets spoken for before it knows its opponents.

The bowl has existed since 1978 and has built a solid local following. Binkowski said the bowl sells about 35,000 tickets annually to local residents.

The bowl then requires each of the participating teams to purchase 11,000 tickets, which the schools sell.

The Holiday Bowl plays before a capacity of roughly 66,000 at Qualcomm Stadium.

"We're already well over the mid-50,000s," Binkowski said. "So things are going very, very well."

And early reports are that ticket sales through the schools will turn out fine even if Nebraska fans may not be as enthusiastic as usual because of the rematch with UW (it beat Washington 56-21 in September) and having played in the Holiday Bowl last year.

Binkowski said Nebraska sold 5,800 of its allotment on the first day, and UW sold about 5,000.

Once the Huskies beat WSU and the Alamo Bowl chose Arizona, the Holiday had no choice but to take Washington.

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The Holiday could have chosen another Big 12 team to avoid a Huskies-Huskers rematch. Texas Tech and Baylor were available.

But each finished 7-5 to Nebraska's 10-3 and neither has the reputation for drawing many fans to a bowl. And with Nebraska moving to the Big Ten next year, this was also the last chance for the Holiday to get Nebraska.

"So there were a lot of reasons to pick Nebraska, and all good reasons," Binkowski said.

The Holiday Bowl was 44 seconds away from getting Notre Dame.

Heading into last weekend, the bowl wasn't guaranteed a Pac-10 team. It is obligated to take the No. 3 choice of bowl-eligible teams from the conference, but Washington needed to beat Washington State to qualify.

So the Holiday made backup plans, and was all set to get Notre Dame if Washington lost the Apple Cup. Instead, UW scored late to beat WSU and earn a spot in San Diego.

Foster All-Pac-10

Linebacker Mason Foster was selected to the All-Pac-10 first team, the first Washington player named since safety C.J. Wallace in 2006.

Running back Chris Polk, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and safety Nate Williams were named to the second team. The selections are made by the Pac-10 coaches.

Quarterback Jake Locker, defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu and linebacker Victor Aiyewa earned honorable mention.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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