The Arizona Wildcats are exploring their bowl options, including looking outside the Pac-12′s affiliations, but are in a wait-and-see mode.
“There are a few possibilities,” said athletic director Greg Byrne, who was working the phones Sunday morning with bowl officials. “It’s too early to know for sure.”
Here’s what we know:
The Pac-12 has nine bowl eligible teams and seven postseason slots. The non-BCS bowls are not bound by strict standings; they can take any team that is within one game of a higher team in the league standings.
Arizona is 4-5 in the conference. There are five teams that have conference records of 6-3 or better, so the Wildcats can’t be selected over any of those teams, meaning they are shut out of the league’s fifth-place slot, the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco has the sixth selection of Pac-12 teams and is likely to select Washington, which is 5-4 in conference play and 8-4 overall.
That leaves the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque with a pool of three teams — Arizona, Washington State and Oregon State — all of which went 4-5 in Pac-12 games.
“That’s one of the possibilities for us,” Byrne said.
The mutual interest in the New Mexico Bowl might be tepid, considering the Cats played in the game last season.
Looking outside of the Pac-12′s affiliations, bowls that have at-large spots available are the Heart of Dallas on Jan. 1 vs. a team from Conference USA, and the Advocare V100 Bowl (formerly the Independence) in Shreveport, La., vs. an ACC team.
“I want to work with Coach (Rich) Rodriguez and see what makes sense for us,” Byrne said.
“But at the same time we’re going to be happy knowing we’re in the postseason and with our seniors having a chance to play again and getting another month of practice.”
Here is a look at how the Pac-12 could shake out:
Rose: Arizona State-Stanford winner
Holiday: Arizona-Stanford loser
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: USC
Kraft Fight Hunger: Washington
New Mexico: ????
There is a chance the Orange Bowl could take two-loss Oregon as an at-large team, which would be good for the Pac-12 financially, and the trickle-down effect could also be good news for Arizona.
In that scenario, the Stanford-ASU loser bumps up to the Alamo, UCLA to Holiday and Washington to Sun (which does not want a repeat of USC). The Trojans still go to Las Vegas, and the Kraft Fight Hunger gets to choose among the rest.
There could be contingencies in place during the week, but it might be until next Sunday before Arizona’s bowl picture falls into place after the BCS games are announced.