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Football: Bowl talk

It looks as though a substantial number of Cal players would rather play in the Las Vegas Bowl than just across the Bay Bridge in the Emerald Bowl.

Wide receiver Jeremy Ross had some telling comments at today’s weekly press luncheon. He said there was a strong faction of the team that would rather go to the Las Vegas Bowl than the Emerald Bowl. The Emerald Bowl, played at AT&T Park in San Francisco, is highly interested in having Cal in the game because it would likely result in a sellout. But many of the Bears find traveling to a different city to be part of the bowl experience and it may not feel special enough to play just 13 miles away from campus.

“A lot of us want to go to the Vegas Bowl,” Ross said. “That’s kind of the talk right now, going to the Vegas Bowl. Going somewhere else makes it that much funner. We travel during the season but it’s more business. With the bowl game, we have the opportunity to explore and walk around the city and see different things because we’re there for the whole week. It makes it that much better when we’re somewhere unfamiliar to be able to go there and and sightsee and enjoy ourselves outside of football.”

Ross said some of the Bears were actually rooting for Oregon to beat Oregon State on Saturday, even though an Oregon State victory would have put Cal in a tie for third instead of fourth place. It also would have meant a berth in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

“I know a lot of people wanted to be higher up and possibly go to the Holiday Bowl,” Ross said. “But a lot of people wanted to go to Vegas as well. Vegas has been the talk of the town. A lot of people weren’t too disappointed. I’m not going to lie to you.”

Ross said “we’re rooting for Arizona State.” If ASU beats Arizona on Saturday, there is some talk that the Las Vegas Bowl wouldn’t give up Cal to the Emerald Bowl so quickly because it would be forced to have a 6-6 team rather than an 8-4 team.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said if the Bears play in the Emerald Bowl, they will practice at Memorial Stadium. He said the team would still stay in a San Francisco hotel and take part in all the activities the bowl has scheduled.

“If we do stay home, I know we’ll make it a good experience for them,” Tedford said. “They’ll stay in the city. They’ll stay in the hotel. It will feel like a bowl game to them. They’ll be away from here and they’ll go through all the activities. I know that our administration and the bowl will do a nice job making it nice for them.”

Las Vegas Bowl director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said Tuesday afternoon that she is “pretty close to coming to some agreement” with Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli. The Las Vegas Bowl and Emerald Bowl get to pick between the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the Pac-10 every year, with the first choice alternating each year. The Las Vegas Bowl has the first pick this season, and likely will be deciding between Cal, Arizona and Arizona State. Cavalli and Kunzer-Murphy have been in discussions that would ensure the Emerald Bowl gets Cal.

Kunzer-Murphy raved about the experience of having Cal in Las Vegas in 2005 and said she’s received numerous e-mails from fans expressing their desire to have the team play in her game.

“I totally understand why he’d like to have Cal at his place,” she said. “We had a great time when Cal was down here. They’ve always been in our sights if they’re around the fourth or fifth spot. We just think the world of them. But I understand the economics of things.”

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.