It looks like the Big Ten has lined up most of its bowls for the 2010-2014 seasons.
The league looks to re-up with the Capital One and Outback bowls. The Alamo is almost definitely out, as is the Champs. It looks like the Gator is in, and the Holiday is a maybe.
Here’s a look at the most interesting information, as opposed to the most important.
I talked with Gator Bowl Executive Director Rick Catlett today. He wants the Big Ten real bad to face the ACC No. 2 in the Gator Bowl. “I would couch the conversations as serious,” he said.
Apparently – not on record from Catlett – the Gator Bowl is offering the Big Ten $3 million a year for the spot. It’s basically a swap of the Alamo Bowl for the Gator Bowl. Not too bad on paper. The Gator Bowl is on New Year’s Day, boasts 65 years of tradition and it’s about a $1 million pay upgrade. But there’s a catch.
The Capital One Bowl has an exclusive time window with the Big Ten and SEC to air its second half without competition. That bowl begins at noon our time, as does the Gator Bowl. Catlett said the exclusive window would have to move or his start time. That hasn’t been worked out just yet.
The Gator Bowl also is close to extending its sponsorship with Minolta. It currently airs on CBS, and it could move to the ESPN family of networks, depending on how the exclusivity arrangement with the Capital One Bowl plays out. If it falls apart, look for the Big East to hook up again with the Gator Bowl.
The Capital One Bowl, which pays out nearly $4.5 million a team, is close to re-upping with the Big Ten and SEC, which sends their top non-BCS teams there. The Outback Bowl is close, too. All of this, I’m told, can happen within a week.
The Alamo Bowl has decided to pay up to land the Pac-10′s top non-BCS squad and budging ahead of the Holiday Bowl.
Here’s what most of the bowls I’ve talked to are saying:
GATOR BOWL: Rick Catlett, executive director
Catlett shared a great story of when the Gator Bowl’s executive committee came to Iowa City in a snowstorm to invite Iowa to the 1983 Gator Bowl.
“The emcee for the Gator Bowl got up and said one thing I promise you is that it will be warmer in Jacksonville than it is here,” Catlett recalled. “Of course the temperature in that game was 19 degrees. We’re not equipped to sit four hours in 19-degree weather.”
CAPITAL ONE/CHAMPS SPORTS BOWLS: Steve Hogan, chief executive officer
It seems fairly clear the Capital One Bowl wants to keep the Big Ten and SEC, and the feeling is mutual.
“The Big Ten and the SEC have been an unbelievable relationship close to 20 years now. Our primary goal would be to keep that and extend that, and I believe that we will,” Hogan said about the Capital One Bowl. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t or we won’t.”
But it’s possible the Big Ten won’t renew its relationship with the Champs Sports Bowl. Michigan State has played in Orlando bowls the last two seasons, and Wisconsin has played in Orlando three of the last five years. The potential for bowl fatigue by teams, fans and local population is real.
“We may or may not continue that,” Hogan said. “We’ll see. We have to decide what’s in our mutual best interest, especially when you look at the New Year’s Day product.”
OUTBACK BOWL: Jim McVay, executive director
Outback Bowl Executive Director Jim McVay said his bowl is in “deep, deep conversations” to renew with the Big Ten and SEC. Iowa has played in three Outback Bowls in the last six years, The Outback Bowl posts the second-highest payout of non-BCS bowls.
“We know what our interests are,” McVay said. “We know who we would like to invite to our bowl game. We have a strong interest in maintaining our relationship.”
ALAMO BOWL: Rick Hill, vice president for communications and marketing
This bowl is on the move. It couldn’t slide up the chain for the Big Ten, so it sought the Pac-10′s best non-BCS team. It appears a formality that the league will accept the Alamo Bowl’s $3 million offer.
“We’ve told both conferences (the Big 12 and Big Ten) we have an interest in moving up,” Hill said. “We want to respect the order of the incumbents but please ask us if there’s availability to move up. We’ve done well in the past with a 4/5 share (of conference teams).
“We feel we can do as well or better with a chance to move up.”
HOLIDAY BOWL: Bruce Binkowski, executive director
Should the Alamo Bowl land the Pac-10’s best non-BCS team, the Holiday Bowl could reach for the Big Ten to oppose a lower-tiered Pac-10 team.
“We’ve had a great run with the Big 12 and we have every intention of pursuing it and keeping that,” said Bruce Binkowski, the Holiday Bowl’s executive director. “But we need to leave all of our options open. We certainly wouldn’t close the door on the Big Ten if we had a good opportunity there.”
LIBERTY BOWL: Steve Ehrhart, executive director
The Liberty Bowl likes its current arrangement with the Conference USA champion against a lower-tier SEC squad. It’s highly unlikely there’s a change, but the Big Ten’s past involvement piqued Ehrhart’s curiosity.
“Although we could be open to change and have had a history with every conference, we’re not anticipating a change at this point,” he said.
SUN BOWL: Bernie Olivas, executive director
There’s little interest in the Big Ten from the Sun Bowl and vice versa. The two had a good relationship in the past but there were too many repeat teams to sustain a future together at this time.
“When we had the Big Ten, it seemed like Purdue came three times in four years (2001, 2002, 2004),” Olivas said. “I don’t think it was good for our community, I don’t think it was good for the student-athletes as well, to go back to the same place.
“It’s a bowl, and it’s supposed to be a reward for a good year. I think it’s good for the schools to experience a different part of the country and different bowls. Student-athletes and our local fans like to see different teams play in the Sun Bowl as well.”
Olivas, like many bowl officials, spoke to Big Ten officials during football media days in July. Both the Sun Bowl and Big Ten moved on shortly thereafter.
“Our selection would be a little down the pathway, down in the selection process,” Olivas said. “I think for us to get where we want to be would have cost us too much money. We’re not the highest-paying bowl by any means and our selection would have been farther down that we would have wanted.”