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Originally published Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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College Football | Cougars won't go bowling

The college team whose motto was "finish" but failed to do so in November got some expected bad news Tuesday: Its season is finished. Washington State, which had...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The college team whose motto was "finish" but failed to do so in November got some expected bad news Tuesday: Its season is finished.

Washington State, which had entered November ranked 25th with a 6-3 record then lost consecutive games to Arizona, Arizona State and Washington, will be home for the holidays.

The Cougars' slim chances for a bowl were extinguished when the Emerald Bowl, to be played in San Francisco on Dec. 27, Tuesday exercised its right to pick UCLA as the opponent for Florida State (6-6).

The Bruins are expected to lose to USC on Saturday and finish 6-6, 4-5.

The decision by the Emerald Bowl meant that the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Dec. 24 had no choice but to pick Arizona State (7-5, 4-5) as its Pac-10 representative because ASU was the only Pac-10 team with a winning record and no bowl.

Left out of the bowl picture are WSU (6-6, 4-5) and Arizona (6-6, 4-5).

"I feel badly for Arizona and Washington State for getting left out, but I don't think anyone imagined we would have eight bowl-eligible teams," said Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon.

Teams with 6-6 records are eligible to play in bowl games with which their league has a contractual arrangement. The Pac-10 has arrangements with six bowls. A 6-6 team can't be invited to fill an at-large berth in a non-affiliated bowl if there are teams with winning records available, which is the case this year.

"I have been disappointed the previous three weeks so this is the fourth week in a row," said WSU athletic director Jim Sterk, who had been lobbying for WSU and said he wasn't surprised by the announcement.

Sterk and Muldoon said the size of the Los Angeles television market worked in the Bruins' favor.

Sterk also said he figured the Emerald Bowl didn't want Arizona State because coach Dirk Koetter has been fired and will be coaching his final game for ASU.

Jim Donovan, executive director of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, said Tuesday his bowl had been "leaning in the direction" of picking UCLA over Arizona or Washington State if those had been the choices. However, he said no decision had been made.

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The Pac-10 bowl picture fell into place Tuesday when the Bowl Championship Series "released" California (8-3, 6-2) from consideration from a BCS bowl. Cal then accepted a berth in the Holiday Bowl. Oregon State (8-4, 6-3) already had been ticketed to the Sun Bowl. Oregon (7-5, 4-5) announced it was headed to the Las Vegas Bowl, and the Emerald Bowl announced its choice of UCLA.

The Cougars haven't been to a bowl since 2003, when they beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

Sterk acknowledged that many fans are upset with the Cougars' failure to get to a bowl after positioning themselves at 6-3. Sterk said he remains committed to coach Bill Doba and said, "I think he's a very good leader."

Bowl season gets off to a running start Dec. 19 when the nation's leading rusher — Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe — goes against one of the best run defenses in Texas Christian in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

In addition to Northern Illinois, two other Mid-American Conference teams were picked for bowls, as well as three teams from Conference USA.

From the MAC:

• Western Michigan (8-4) will play in the inaugural International Bowl in Toronto on Jan. 6 — the first bowl game outside the United States since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana.

• Central Michigan (8-4) will play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, becoming the first team from Michigan to play in the decade-old game set for Ford Field in Detroit.

From Conference USA:

• Tulsa (8-4) will play Utah (7-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Forth Worth, Texas.

• Rice (7-5) will play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22. The likely opponent is Troy.

• East Carolina (7-5) accepted a bid to play in the first PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 23. The Pirates will play a team from the Big East Conference, likely Cincinnati or South Florida.

Also, San Jose State will play New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, and Nevada is expected to be formally invited today to play in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise.

Note

• Tulane fired coach Chris Scelfo after eight years and only two winning seasons, a school spokesman said. Tulane went 4-8 this season and Scelfo's overall record was 37-57 with only one postseason bowl appearance, a 36-28 victory over Hawaii in 2002.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pac-10 teams in bowls
Five Pac-10 teams accepted bowl bids Tuesday, eliminating any hope Washington State had of playing in a bowl game. USC will play in either the BCS championship game, or the Rose Bowl.

The Pac-10 bowl lineup:

Bowl game Date Time Site TV
BCS title Jan. 8 5 p.m. Glendale, Ariz. FOX
If USC beats UCLA, Trojans will likely play Ohio State
Sun Dec. 29 11 a.m. El Paso, Texas CBS
Oregon State vs. Missouri or Big East No. 2
Holiday Dec. 28 5 p.m. San Diego ESPN
California vs. Big 12 team
Emerald Dec. 27 5 p.m. San Francisco ESPN
UCLA vs. Florida State
Hawaii Dec. 24 5 p.m. Honolulu ESPN
Arizona State vs. Hawaii
Las Vegas Dec. 21 5 p.m. Las Vegas ESPN
Oregon vs. Brigham Young

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