It’s May. The school year is coming to a close. The temperatures are flirting with triple digits. What are we going to talk about?

College football bowl season, of course.

Nick Foles

Nick Foles and the Wildcats are taking aim
at a third straight bowl game.
Photo by Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

The 2010-2011 bowl schedule was released this past week so let’s see where the Arizona Wildcats might be playing and when.

It’s never too early for football. And it’s never too early to ask for time off work.

Here’s what the Pac-10 has in store for us this winter, in chronological order. These are the generic bowl names; we’ll leave sorting out the corporate sponsors to someone else.

Las Vegas Bowl
Wed. Dec. 22, 5 p.m. Pacific
Pac-10 #5 vs. Mountain West #1
Distance from the UA: 410 miles

Alamo Bowl
Wed. Dec. 29, 8 p.m. Central
Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3
Distance from the UA: 869 miles

Holiday Bowl
Thu. Dec. 30, 7 p.m. Pacific
Pac-10 #3 vs. Big 12 #5
Distance from the UA: 409 miles

(How the mighty have fallen. The Holiday Bowl lost the 2nd place Pac-10 team and now picks a Big 12 team after the Insight Bowl, which started as the Copper Bowl in Tucson.)

((It’s interesting that the locations of Arizona’s last two bowls are almost the exact same distance from Tucson. For some reason the drive back from San Diego seemed a lot longer.))

Sun Bowl
Fri. Dec. 31, 12 p.m. Mountain
Pac-10 #4 vs. ACC #4
Distance from the UA: 317 miles

Rose Bowl
Sat. Jan. 1, 1:30 p.m. Pacific
Pac-10 #1 vs. Big Ten #1
Distance from the UA: Unknown

(Actually, the distance should be “Doesn’t Matter.” When that glorious day finally comes the entire University of Arizona would gladly walk to Pasadena if it had to.)

Kraft (formerly Emerald) Bowl
Sun. Jan. 9, 6 p.m. Pacific
Pac-10 #6 vs. WAC #1, 2 or 3
Distance from the UA: 868 miles

(The Pac-10 team will play Army in ’11, Navy in ’12, and a WAC team again in ’13.)

((You read that right. January Nine.))

Obviously you want to play in the best bowl possible. But if you ignore prestige, payout and quality of opponent, and you just look at the potential travel schedule the best bowl for the Cats would be, well, still the Rose. It’s on a Saturday, everyone already has that Friday off and you can get the caravan there in one day if you so desire.

The next best logistical option is the Sun Bowl. Fri. Dec. 31 is a holiday, and with the noon start you could drive back home right after the game if needed.

The worst possible destination? The Mac n’ Cheese Bowl, and it’s not even close. Sun. Jan. 9 is the night before the national championship game and it’s the first weekend of the NFL playoffs. No one is going to say three words about this bowl.

Roadtripping isn’t a viable option and it’s a week too early to take advantage of the MLK Day weekend. On top of all that you play a WAC team, and it won’t be Boise State (who will either be in the BCS or playing at home in the Humanitarian Bowl). Are you really going to shell out money for airfare to watch Arizona play in a bowl no one cares about against Fresno State or Nevada?

Another interesting development is the Pac-10 giving its bowl partners more flexibility in selecting teams. Unlike most conferences, the Pac bowls were required to pick according to the standings, but that will change starting with the 2010 season. Bowls will now be able to look one game lower in the standings if they want to select a more desirable team, and that’s not good for any school outside of Los Angeles.

Had the new rule been in place for 2009 it doesn’t mean the Holiday Bowl could have picked 6-6 / 3-6 UCLA, but it does mean the Holiday could have and would have ignored the three 6-3 teams to snag 5-4 USC.

It’s only five months until bowl season. Start saving your pennies now.

– – – – –

The Arizona baseball game has joined Oregon State in looking like this. The Cats needed to sweep Cal State Bakersfield to get back on pace toward making the NCAA tournament. Not only did they not sweep, not only did they lose two out of three, but they got embarrassed in both losses.

No way should this team be scoring a mere two runs in an 11-inning game. And absolutely no way any Arizona team should be giving up 22 runs to a no-name team with a losing record.

We can say “young team, young team” all we want but there’s a big difference between being up-and-down and just falling apart. There’s plenty of talent on this team but it has collectively lost its way at the worst possible time. Instead of using games against USC and CSB as a springboard into the ASU series the Wildcats have zero momentum. Check that, the Cats have negative momentum. If hitting is contagious the UA bats have been quarantined.

Not the place you want to be before you face the top-three, first-place team that just happens to be your biggest rival.

The math says a postseason bid is still possible, but to have any sort of chance the Cats need to find a way to win four more games. That would put Arizona at 34-21 overall and 13-14 in Pac-10 play. It could still easily get you on the wrong side of the bubble but it’s the bare minimum needed to get into the discussion.

Win once each against ASU and Stanford, and take two of three in the wheels-free showdown at OSU. That’s the formula, but it would take a significant momentum swing just to do that.

Buckle up. This ride may get even bumpier.