The annual pre-game press conference kicked off with Brant Ringler, Executive Director of the Armed Forces Bowl, covering the generals of game day, and reminiscing about the great event this bowl game has become.
"Can you believe it's already been ten years?" Ringler stated, "I strutted on that field in late December, 15 degrees, looking at empty frozen and seats and going, what the heck have I gotten myself into here?"
Little did Ringler know the memories that were about to be created and the evolution that the bowl would make in just ten years. Among the reminiscing, he also stressed a very important aspect of this entire event – honoring those who have served.
From the 3-year-old trophy made out of materials from the battlefield in Iraq, to the giving of the Great American Patriot Award during half-time, this game day is full of events that do their very best at honoring those who have served and their families as well as the giving the players a one-of-a-kind experience.
"There is no other trophy like this in the world and it's something special for these teams to take home," added Ringler.
He also listed the many events that are going to take place during game day, such as: A dual jump team consisting of the Wings of Blue and the Silver Wings of the Army. Also, Dana Bowman, a double amputee, will be jumping alongside them; also, a 15,000 square foot American flag being brought out, and a $3,000 presentation to Operations Finding Homes (one of the partners of the bowl).
As well as the events, Ringler added that many military families will be attending the game.
"I don't know if everybody knows, but our corporate partners are required to buy military tickets for the families to attend the game for free. We probably have 12,000 to 13,000 tickets out there just because of that program."
Because of this, more than half of the stands will be filled with military families that the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl intends to recognize and honor.
The coaches each had an opportunity to add their two cents about the bowl game, as well, and they had nothing but good remarks. Coach Bailiff of Rice commented that what stood out to him the most was the demeanor of the two teams when interacting with each other.
"I tell you what has been remarkable. Just when you're sitting in a restaurant in Fort Worth and you see the Air Force Academy football team walking down the road and you see the Rice football team walking with them, I think they realize they are similar types of young men… I don't know that there's a lot of other bowl games that that could happen in."
As far as game day goes, Ringler, as well as everyone involved in the making of the tenth year of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is nothing short of excited.
"Excited about all the military and Armed Forces elements we have before the game and obviously the game itself, these two teams will put on a great show, you already know that," stated Ringler.