Some people didn't like the joke and took to social media to blast Horne and her screed. Horne tweeted that she received death threats from El Pasoans who claimed to be gang members, and later took the article down.

"First of all, to those people in El Paso, I apologize. I did not mean to do that. I did offend you, but on the other hand-and this is not to take away from the apology-but I think people overreacted and didn't realize it was satire," Horne said in an on-air phone call with 600 ESPN Radio El Paso.

And before we could recover from that drama, the Wall Street Journal delivered a virtual kick to the crotch, and nicknamed this year's Sun Bowl the "Flatliners Bowl."

Still, Bill Blaziek, general manager of the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, is took it all in stride.

"We have the opportunity to change (Burnett's) opinion and that's really where we shine," Blaziek said earlier this month. "If we could package the qualities of El Paso and market it out in front of their visit, they'd have a completely different attitude."

Blaziek said the City has hired a media house out of New York to handle public relations. He said they are "garnering or generating positive media for El Paso and the Sun Bowl is surely one of those opportunities. We've employed them in Los Angeles to help with this week and they're very engaging and given us sharp and clear direction on how to respond to media."

Blaziek said that outsiders don't have a perception of the city before they arrive. However, year in and year out, the teams and their fans love the city after the game, he said.

"They leave with a different attitude," Blaziek said.

Sometimes, attitudes make a complete 180.

Berry Tramel would not have been mistaken for an ambassador for El Paso in 2009. In the lead-up to that year's Sun Bowl, Tramel, a sports writer for The Oklahoman, said El Paso was "not a great tourist destination."

He also said faulted the city for its weather, and its lack of things to do.

"El Paso might be a fine place to live, but I'm in no hurry to return," he wrote in 2009 as Oklahoma was getting ready to face Stanford in the Sun Bowl.

He did return, however. This time he was a bit more complimentary, even calling it a good trip.

"I enjoyed it. I hope to be back soon," Tramel wrote in his blog this past September after Oklahoma defeated UTEP at the Sun Bowl.

Tramel wrote about Marty Robbins' ballad "El Paso," describing it as "one of the best ballads ever written, and that it would make a great screenplay with just a few pieces of dialogue thrown in."

He said he felt safe in El Paso, but when he looks over the border at Juarez, he is reminded of the violence and its gloomy designation as the "murder capital."

Maybe most perplexing, he said Oklahoma's Mexican food is better than El Paso's. Still, Tramel liked the sopapillas at Leo's Mexican restaurant so much, he said he could have inhaled 30 of them had he been there with an empty stomach.

His colleague, Stephanie Kuzdym, the beat writer for the Sooners, posted several pictures and a couple of videos from the trip, saying she loved how the Sun Bowl is carved into the mountain.