by RENALDO DORSETT
Bringing together elite NCAA Division I football and Bahamian culture, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl promises to provide entertainment value to football fans both on and off the field.
A halftime show featuring the Valley Boys, the Bahamas All-Star Band, and free samples of a new flavour from Popeyes chicken to the first 5,000 patrons in the Thomas A Robinson stadium will accent the battle on the gridiron when the Central Michigan Chippewas and Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers square off Wednesday, December 24.
The game will be televised on ESPN and carried by ESPN Radio.
The 7-5 Chippewas and 7-5 Hilltoppers will be the first two teams to play a postseason NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) game outside of either the United States or Canada since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl.
Britton Banowsky, President of the Bahamas Bowl and Commissioner of Conference-USA said his committee had several goals to accomplish when the idea to host the game was in its infancy stages over a year ago.
“We had two objectives when we started talking about this. The first was to create a great game and great experience for the student athletes, coaches and universities. That’s a priority. There are a lot of great places to play football but we could not think of a better place than the Bahamas. Equally as important was to try to enhance and continue to introduce the game of American football to the people of the Bahamas. We know that there are folks here who love football and it creating a more enriching experience around the sport of football is absolutely something we want to do,” he said, “The game will be available to at least 110 million homes in an unopposed window on Christmas Eve and has the potential to be the largest audience to view anything that’s ever happened in the Bahamas. It’s a lot of pressure for us but it’s also a great opportunity.”
Coaches from participating schools were introduced to the Bahamas yesterday for a series of press conferences, meetings and a site visit at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.
WKU, coached by Jeff Brohm, boasts one of Conference USA’s top offensive teams. The Hilltoppers enter the bowl with a four-game winning streak, including a 67-66 overtime victory in their regular-season finale over then-No. 19 Marshall.
“A year and a half ago, the leadership at Western Kentucky had the foresight to get us into Conference USA, its a outstanding conference and we’re lucky to be in it. Having the opportunity to attend the Bahamas Bowl our first year in the conference is outstanding,” he said, “This is a tremendous bowl game that we are tremendously excited to attend. I know our players, our fans, our administration are excited to attend this bowl and actually view it on TV as well. Our players are more excited that you can imagine and this is going to be a fun week. We are looking forward for the opportunity to show what are team jus all about. We are grateful to be here in a tremendous setting.”
Central Michigan, coached by Dan Enos (26-35 in five seasons overall and at Central Michigan), battled its way through a tough MAC West Division. The Chippewas won five of their last seven regular-season games, including three of their final four contests behind a conference-leading five first-team All-MAC players
“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. It’s a privilege to be in such a place, one of the greatest vacation destinations in the entire world and to play a football game, a bowl game there, will be an exciting experience for our student athletes, our families, our coaches our administration. I kept telling our team as the season went on, you keep winning, you keep winning and you’re going to end up some where warm,” Enos said, “I brought my family here two years ago to Atlantis, my wife and two children, and it was one of the greatest most remarkable vacation memories we have ever had, so to be able to come back here with our football team is really and honour and we are looking forward to it. Hopefully we entertain everybody with a great game.”
Central Michigan and WKU are expected to arrive in Nassau on December 20 for a bowl week full of events at the Atlantis, the official resort of the bowl, along with community relations appearances in the Nassau area.More information on the game and related activities will be released in the coming days.
For more information on the 2014 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, visit PopeyesBahamasBowl.com.