Busters' football gets surprise bowl bid
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
A year of strife and challenges, including forfeiting three games, will end on a high note for the Garden City Community College football team as school administrators accepted a bowl bid Tuesday afternoon.
The Broncbusters — despite an official record of 2-7 after forfeiting the three wins — were invited and agreed to play in the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl in Pittsburg on Dec. 8 against 8-2 and No. 13-ranked Tyler (Texas) Junior College.
"It means a lot to the program," said athletic director Ryan Ruda on Tuesday night. "It means a lot to the student-athletes."
This will be the second straight season the Busters will play in a bowl game, after winning a scintillating Mississippi Bowl over Copiah-Lincoln (Wesson, Miss.) Community College in 2012.
That game was a 31-29 victory when the Busters rallied in the closing minutes to get a game-winning field goal late.
The Busters were led in that game by quarterback Nick Marshall, who now is leading Auburn.
Tyler is going to a bowl game for the first time since 2004, when the Apaches lost to Hutchinson Community College, 15-10.
Ruda said Garden City did not expect a bid after the tumultuous season that was derailed when a random audit by the NJCAA found the school did not have proper paperwork for two transfer players, therefore ruling that GCCC had to forfeit the three wins over Independence, Cisco (Texas) Community College and Air Force (Colo.) Prep.
That's what makes the bowl bid even better for head coach Matt Miller, who said in a phone interview Tuesday that he believes it, "legitimizes" the trajectory the Buster program is on.
The team's talent is what Miller believes drew the bowl committee to select the Busters despite not making the KJCCC playoffs.
Ruda agreed, especially given that four Jayhawk Conference schools will be playing in bowl games this season, the most since 2005, when five Jayhawk schools went bowling.
"I think it just speaks volumes not only about the school," Ruda said, "but when you've got four teams going to a bowl game, it speaks volumes about the quality of the conference."
The other three schools that accepted bids to play in a bowl were No. 5 Butler (9-1), No. 19 Dodge City (6-3) and No. 18 Hutchinson (7-4). Butler will play No. 3 Iowa Western (Council Bluffs, Ia.) Community College (10-1) in The Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Dec. 8; Dodge City will take on No. 4 Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College (9-1) in the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Dec. 7; and Hutch will face Dakota College (N.D.) at Bottineau (8-2) in the Salt City Bowl in Hutchinson on Dec. 7.
The Busters are not the only team hit with NJCAA sanctions this season that will be playing in a bowl game. Arizona Western College (2-9) forfeited five games this season due to the use of an ineligible player, yet will play New Mexico Military College in the Toro Bowl on Dec. 7.
No. 1 Georgia Military College (11-0) and No. 2 East Mississippi Community College (11-0) meet up in the Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi, Miss., for the NJCAA National Championship.