CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Skip Holtz, left, of East Carolina and Boise State's Chris Petersen will coach against each other in the Hawaii Bowl.
Boise won’t overlook ECU
Broncos opted for Hawaii over home
How much has Boise State's reputation changed in the past year?
Ask East Carolina coach Skip Holtz.
"I found out we were playing Boise State and I was kind of looking at what other bowl opportunities we had out there," Holtz said.
Of course, he didn't mean it, but just the thought shows how much Boise State's win over Oklahoma in last year's Fiesta Bowl has changed its perception.
The Broncos are 10 1/2-point favorites against the Pirates in Sunday's Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium and garnered most of the attention at yesterday's press conference.
"I was just saying that I find it interesting how different it is," Broncos coach Chris Petersen said. "People are underestimating those guys."
The Pirates were 3-20 in the two seasons before Holtz took over as coach prior to the '05 season. It's the second year in a row the Pirates are in a bowl game, but even Holtz admits there's a big difference between the two schools.
"We're kind of on different sides when you look at the two programs," Holtz said. "When I got all of (Boise State's) statistics with everything I asked Tom McClellan (Director of Athletics Media Relations) to send the real ones. I thought it was a joke."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
East Carolina coach Skip Holtz and Boise State coach Chris Petersen signed footballs yesterday.
When Boise State had the chance to choose between staying home for the Humanitarian Bowl or playing in the Hawaii Bowl, coach Chris Petersen knew exactly who deserved to make that decision.
"The players are college football and they have so little say in everything that goes on," Petersen said. "It's just nice when we have some flexibility to say, 'Hey where do you guys want to go if we have a choice?'
"Hands down, this is where the guys wanted to come."
The decision undoubtedly left Broncos fans upset that they wouldn't get to enjoy one last home game.
But for the players, the decision was a no-brainer.
"When we got asked if we wanted to stay in Boise until the 31st where it's kind of cold, or come out to Hawaii for a week and play in this game, I think everybody was unanimous in wanting to come out here," quarterback Taylor Tharp said.
The Broncos admittedly didn't take home many fond memories from their trip out here a month ago.
A 39-27 loss to Hawaii not only ended their season on a sour note, but snapped a run of five straight Western Athletic Conference titles and 17 consecutive conference victories.
They will welcome the chance to earn a measure of payback next season, but it didn't factor at all in their decision to come back to the islands for the game against East Carolina on Sunday.
"This has nothing to do with getting redemption here in Hawaii," Tharp said. "We'd love a second chance at those guys, but I think we need to move on from the Hawaii game."
Unlike visits to play Hawaii during the regular season, the rules aren't quite as strict for the bowl game. Petersen has invoked a midnight curfew and will allow his team time to enjoy the beaches and ocean, giving guys like senior defensive lineman Nick Schlekeway a chance to attempt something new.
"I've never tried surfing before," Schlekeway said. "I'm looking forward to trying to do some of that."
The coaching staff will also have more time than usual to enjoy some of the finer aspects of the 50th state. Does that mean Petersen will join his team in the water on a surfboard?
"I'm not sure if our players have got enough athletic ability to get it done," Petersen joked. "I know the coach doesn't so I'm not even going to go there."
Boise's Childs suspended
First team All-WAC wide receiver Jeremy Childs is one of three Broncos not in Hawaii.
Childs and freshmen Keith McGowen and Ben Chandler were all suspended for the game for violating undisclosed team rules.
All three incidents were separate, according to Petersen.
Childs, a sophomore, led the team in receiving with 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Jeremy has definitely been a go-to guy," Tharp said. "To not have him out there, I feel like a piece of myself is missing."
True freshman Titus Young, who is second on the team with 592 receiving yards, is expected to start in Childs' place.
Ticket sales encouraging
Ticket sales for Sunday's game are up compared to where they were for the Hawaii Bowl the last time it didn't involve Hawaii.
"We went through 25,000 tickets sold (Monday) afternoon," Hawaii Bowl executive director Jim Donovan said. "That's tracking about 5,000 better than what we did for the Nevada vs. Central Florida game a couple years ago."
The attendance for the '05 Hawaii Bowl was 16,134. Nevada won 49-48 in overtime.