With the Insight Bowl between the Missouri Tigers and the Iowa Hawkeyes kicking off tomorrow night, the media had one more chance to talk shop with the head coaches in the final press conference before the game.
Both Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spoke highly of the people and hospitality involved with the Insight Bowl, praising the ideal weather conditions. Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman poked fun at the cold temperatures in Columbia, Mo. and Iowa City before giving the coaches gift baskets in a photo op.
Picture by Jose Romero, SB Nation Arizona
The teams have had several days to practice and enjoy the nice weather of Tempe and Scottsdale, and the temperature tomorrow evening at game time will be mid-50s. As of last week, Iowa had only sold 6,000 of its 11,000 allocated tickets, but Hawkeye Nation is hoping for a big boost in attendance figures from their local alumni base.
The Insight Bowl is run by the same entity that is in charge of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and the hospitality that John Junker and his team present to the coaches and teams are one of the main reasons as to why the Insight Bowl is growing in prestige so rapidly.
When you contemplate the sunny weather, the top-flight accommodations and the ample options for leisure and relaxation, it's no surprise that Arizona-based bowl games are moving up the charts.
By increasing the Insight Bowl's payout this year, the bowl was able to improve the quality of its selections. Just last season, Minnesota and Iowa State played in this bowl, and an improvement is evident in 2010.
Missouri won 10 games this season and were very close to a BCS bowl berth. Iowa is a traditional power that travels well to bowl games. 50,000 fans are expected tomorrow night, which would be the biggest audience ever for the bowl.
Tomorrow night will be the first official step for the Insight Bowl as it ascends the bowl ladder. If this pace keeps up, the Insight Bowl will soon be one of the main targets for Big Ten and Big 12 schools at the start of the season. And that is very good for the state of Arizona.