Bowling Green players still focused on bowl game after coaching changes

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DETROIT -- Pitt senior quarterback Tom Savage has experienced what members of the Bowling Green team have gone through in the past week.

Savage was at Arizona when Mike Stoops was fired in 2011, so he understands the emotions the Falcons are dealing with after the departure of head coach Dave Clawson to take a similar position at Wake Forest.

"You have that 'home' feeling when you're with a coach," Savage said. "Then when they leave, it's difficult because you don't know the next move. That can be tough.

"It's a scary feeling. You don't know who they're going to bring in [as the new coach]. It's the fear of the unknown. You want to know what system they're going to bring in, so it's a question mark."

Pitt (6-6) and Bowling Green (10-3) will meet Dec. 26 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. Savage and Panthers coach Paul Chryst were at Motor City Casino Friday along with Bowling Green interim coach Adam Scheier and seniors BooBoo Gates and Paul Swan as part of a media day event.

Bowling Green players found out officially Tuesday morning that Clawson was leaving for Wake Forest. This week the Falcons' offensive and defensive coordinators, Warren Ruggiero and Mike Elko, began recruiting for the Demon Deacons, while strength and conditioning coach Brandon Hourigan made plans to join the Wake Forest program.

Ruggiero and Elko will return to Bowling Green to coach the Falcons in the bowl game, but Clawson will not.

Swan said he and the rest of the team's seniors are trying to keep the team focused on the bowl game -- and trying to keep them from worrying about the future.

"At first they were all disappointed, because they will be coming back and right now there's a cloud of unknowns," he said. "[We seniors] are telling them, 'This could be a good thing. Keep an open mind.'

"[Bowling Green] has a lot of players returning next year, and the next coach is really inheriting something great."

Chryst said he doesn't expect the uncertainty of the coaching situation to result in a drastic change in the Falcons' game plan for the game.

"When you get to this point, teams aren't going to reinvent who they are," he said. "We'll take a look at the film and plan accordingly. We're going to try and not over-think this."

The Falcons will hold practices today and Sunday, then not practice again until Friday as the team goes through finals.

"We didn't want to present Pitt, then have to think about finals and forget about it," Gates said. "After finals we're going to introduce Pitt and hit the ground running."

Ticket sales

Tickets are on sale. Panther Club members and football season ticket holders who purchase tickets before Dec. 9 will be assigned seats first based on their Panther Club priority point rank (as of June 20) and then by time of purchase. Tickets purchased after this time will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Students are eligible to receive one complimentary ticket. To reserve your ticket, please call Pitt's ticket office. All complimentary tickets will be held at will call and can be picked up at Ford Field Gate C with a valid Pitt student ID. Please note, if you reserve a ticket and do not pick it up, you will be charged a $15 processing fee.

The University of Pittsburgh and local dispatches contributed to this report. John Wagner is a reporter for the Block News Alliance. The Block News Alliance consists of the Post-Gazette, The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, and television station WDRB in Louisville, Ky.

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