The Naval Academy football team has become a hot postseason ticket, so much so that a handful of bowls — including the Insight — are seeking to reach tie-in agreements with the Midshipmen.
Insight Bowl president John Junker said Tuesday the bowl has had discussions with Navy officials and hopes a deal can be announced by the end of April.
"When you have a military academy with a winning team, it’s a wonderful part of college football," Junker said. "With the nation at war, we think it’s neat to reward those players who, in a year or two, will be serving all of us. There’s a lot of things we like about it.
"The Navy program has been at a distinguished level lately."
Last week, the Midshipmen physically dominated Colorado State en route to a 51-30 victory in the inaugural Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. It was the second straight bowl win for Navy.
What’s more, the program easily went through its allotment of 20,000 tickets. Navy sold 17,000 seats for last year’s Emerald Bowl and 25,000 for the 2003 Houston Bowl.
Sen. John McCain (RAriz.), a Navy veteran, has spoken with academy officials on the Insight’s behalf. The Big Ten and Big 12, who have tie-ins with the bowl beginning next year, also need to be consulted.
"We’re still trying to figure out how that would work," Junker said of the conference affiliations. "We think there are a lot of positives (with Navy), but we’re not ready to announce anything officially. But I’m hopeful."
Arizona State spent the entire second half against Rutgers on Tuesday without middle linebacker Dale Robinson, the Pac-10 co-defensive player of the year, and defensive end Kyle Caldwell, who left with injuries.
Robinson practiced little heading into the Insight Bowl while recovering physically from the regular season. Caldwell has had knee, quadriceps and shoulder pain this year.
Right tackle Andrew Carnahan re-aggravated the broken foot he suffered earlier this season, but he remained in the game.
Starting linebacker Robert James did not play at all due to an undisclosed injury. Receiver Terry Richardson, who had been suffering from the flu, missed the Sun Devils’ first few offensive possessions, though he did play on special teams.
With the season over, ASU coach Dirk Koetter does not even get time off to watch the bowl season culminate. Offcampus contacts with recruits are permitted from Monday through Jan. 7.
A potentially awkward situation: Koetter visiting a recruit while a school competing with ASU for the player’s commitment is on television, playing in a Bowl Championship Series game.
"I hate how the (recruiting) calendar is this year," Koetter said. "I’d like to be on my couch watching games, but if you don’t hit it next week, you will go four weeks without seeing your kids.
"During those (bowl) matchups, a lot of guys have to be in at-home visits, including me."
On his third-quarter touchdown pass to Richardson, ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter broke the school record for passing yardage by a freshman. Ryan Kealy previously held the mark, throwing for 2,137 yards in 1997. . . .
The 52-yard field goal by Rutgers’ Jeremy Ito in the third quarter is the longest in Insight Bowl history. . . .
Taking the final snap to kneel down with the ball on Tuesday was senior Chad Christensen, a Desert Mountain High graduate who came to ASU as a quarterback but ended up playing multiple positions, including tailback, receiver and on special teams.