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PIZZA, PIZZA: Little Caesars Bowl Open Thread

Western Kentucky (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC). Because somebody had to play in it.


Dec. 26, 2012 | 7:30 PM ET

W Kentucky

(7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt)

C Michigan

(6-6, 4-4 MAC)

The bowl season continues with a dandy. It's Detroit in December. It's Little Caesars Pizza. "Pizza pizza." What's not to like?

The most interesting story in this game is probably about Western Kentucky. Let's let the Worldwide Leader tell you in its preview of this Sun Belt/MAC battle royale:

After making the most controversial hire in the annual coaching carousel by giving Bobby Petrino another chance, the Hilltoppers try to cap a successful season with a victory in their first bowl appearance Wednesday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against Central Michigan.

Petrino's predecessor, Willie Taggart, was an institution at Western Kentucky. A former Hilltoppers quarterback under Jack Harbaugh -- the father of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Ravens coach John Harbaugh -- Taggart was part of the staff that won the 2002 FCS title before leaving with Jim Harbaugh in 2007 to be running backs coach at Stanford.

His alma mater beckoned again as Western Kentucky endured growing pains in its transition to the FBS -- the school was 0-12 in its first season in the Sun Belt Conference in 2009 and 2-10 in Taggart's first season as head coach in 2010. His persistence and recruiting paid off, though, as the Hilltoppers have gone 7-5 each of the last two years, culminating in this trip to Detroit.

"He did a tremendous job for Western Kentucky -- inheriting a program with a 20-game losing streak before posting back-to-back 7-5 records in his second and third seasons," athletic director Todd Stewart said after Taggart's departure to South Florida on Dec. 8. "You cannot overstate the positive impact he had on our football program, athletic department and university."

Taggart left despite an offer Stewart said would have made him the highest-paid coach in the Sun Belt. Two days later, Stewart made the bold move of hiring Petrino, who was fired by Arkansas last spring after a scandal that unfolded following a motorcycle accident.

His passenger during the crash was his mistress, a former volleyball player at the school whom he had given $20,000 in gifts and a job as a football assistant.

"I'm going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person and will make me understand their son better," Petrino said during a packed news conference at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Oooh, maybe you'll see Bobby Petrino on TV or something.

If you're watching, this is your open thread.