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Sun Bowl says if Miami can’t play due to Covid, UTEP is ‘very high on the conversation’ for replacement

EL PASO, Texas -- With Miami having several positive Covid-19 cases within its playing group, there's a question mark over if they'll play in the 88th edition of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

Bernie Olivas the Sun Bowl Association executive director told ABC-7 that on a conference call with Miami Wednesday that the Hurricans said they are trending in the right direction and are making every effort to make sure they can play the Sun Bowl.

The Miami Herald reported that as of Wednesday the team is up to double-digit figures of positive Covid-19 tests.

Olivas says Miami and the conference are very positive they'll make it to El Paso.

At this stage, Olivas says Miami will aim to be in El Paso by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest for the game that's set for 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 31. The team was initially set to arrive on Sunday.

If this is how the week plays out, Olivas says the Hurricanes will miss out on a lot of the festivities - but they'll still try to make their experience memorable and enjoyable and give them the hospitality El Paso is known for.

"The people that are going to lose the most are the players because they're not going to get the full player experience," Olivas said.

Despite Olivas saying he thinks Miami will play in the Sun Bowl on New Years Eve, he told ABC-7 they are preparing backup plans just in case something happens - including the potential for another team to play.

"The last thing we want is for a repeat of 2020 where we didn't have a game, so we're all working to make sure this game goes on as planned," Olivas said.

Olivas told ABC-7 they haven't reached out to any other teams yet. When asked if UTEP might be a team they talk to he said "I've always wanted UTEP to play in a Sun Bowl."

Olivas doesn't think the NCAA would allow a team to play two bowl games in a season, but said if Miami wasn't able to play and the NCAA agreed UTEP filling Miami's spot would be "very high on the conversation."

UTEP head coach Dana Dimel told ABC-7 that he's had light-hearted conversations about it.

"There would be some lucrative advantages to it for sure but the mechanics to it, all of our guys are at home, so the mechanics of making it happen probably aren't feasible for us," Dimel said.

Dimel said he's not in a position to say it's a definite no and if they were to be offered it, a serious conversation would need to be had discussing the mechanics of making it happen.

"Is it really feasible and is it something that would be a real positive for UTEP? And if it was then we'd obviously be interested, but the conversation hasn't got to that. I just said could we do it and I'm not sure if it's functional or not," he explained.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

Rachel Phillips


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