You wouldn’t have been able to blame Insight Bowl officials if a faction within the selection committee saw Oklahoma and Penn State and thought mammoth historic matchup.
The Insight had the chance to pounce on the Nittany Lions (9-3), who also could’ve been paired with Texas for another historic game. But with the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal in full swing, a faction within the bowl said no thanks to Penn State. The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas also said no thanks and the Lions slid all the way to the TicketCity Bowl against Houston.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta wanted the keep the Insight’s attention on the Hawkeyes.
As early as Dec. 1, Barta contacted Insight executive director Dr. Robert Shelton.
“I know your selection committee is continuing deliberations and, of course, like all of us, is anxious to watch Saturday’s championship games before turning attention to its hard work Saturday night and Sunday,” Barta wrote. “I wanted to once again express our interest in representing the Big Ten Conference in this year’s Insight Bowl.
“I know you are familiar with the Big Ten Conference, the Hawkeye football team, and our fan base. However, I also wanted to share a few numbers with you as you approach crunch time:
Barta then listed relevant numbers, including 53,888, the record attendance Iowa and Missouri attracted to 2010′s Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
Also, TV ratings were a selling point.
“Despite having to go head-to-head against the National Football League on television, the ESPN broadcast of the 2010 Insight Bowl featuring the Iowa Hawkeyes recorded a 2.24 rating, a whopping 460 percent increase over the 2009 broadcast available on the NFL Network. The 2010 rating was just shy of the event’s average rating of 2.4 over 18 events,” Barta pointed out in the letter.
The letter was sent early in the process, when Texas was still in the mix for the Big 12′s Insight entrant. Iowa and Texas met in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.
“Either way, consider this: The last time the Iowa Hawkeyes played a team from Texas in a bowl game, the bowl game and its television partner had a really good day — the 2006 Alamo Bowl between Iowa and Texas was the most-watched college bowl game in ESPN history (to that date). The contest earned a 6.0 rating which translates into 5,521,220 households and 8.83 million viewers when considering a 1.6 viewers-per-household factor,” Barta wrote.
Barta also mentioned Baylor, which ended up in the Alamo Bowl. Texas was picked by the Holiday Bowl. Of course, Iowa ended up being matched with Oklahoma.
So, here it is. Iowa and Oklahoma on Dec. 30, kicking off 9 p.m. Iowa time on ESPN.
(Below is the promotional piece Iowa sent the Insight.)