Admit it, you miss the Holiday Bowl.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have quite the history with the San Diego-based bowl. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Hawkeyes went 2-0-1 in the Holiday Bowl, winning their two games by a total of two points.
In 1986, Rob Houghtlin’s 41-yard field goal as time expired lifted Iowa over hometown San Diego State. The next year in ’87, Iowa tipped Wyoming, 20-19, with defensive back Merton Hanks blocking two kicks, including the potential game-winner with 46 seconds left. Then, a 10-1 Iowa team built a 13-0 halftime lead over BYU, but Heisman Trophy QB Ty Detmer led the Cougars to a comeback tie. Yes, a tie. No OTs in 1991.
Fry is in the Holiday Bowl hall of fame (he’s also in the Rose, Peach and Sun halls of fame and if the Alamo Bowl ever gets an HOF, he’s in that, too).
This is all relevant because ESPN.com Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg reports today that the Holiday Bowl and the Big Ten are talking about hooking up after a hiatus since 1994 (link here).
From the blog:
“Oh yeah, there’s interest,” Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski told ESPN.com. “Obviously, we’re still tied in with the Big 12 and we’re talking to them, but we’re also interested in possibly tying in with the Big Ten. Everything’s wide open right now.”
The Holiday Bowl will keep its Pac-12 tie-in for the next cycle. The game has featured Pac-12 and Big 12 teams for the past 15 years. Nebraska’s final two bowl games as a Big 12 member took place in the Holiday (2009 and 2010).
Although the Big 12 remains appealing, the Big Ten brings a new set of teams and massive fan bases willing to travel long distances to escape the winter freeze. The Holiday Bowl was among the dozen or so bowls that met with Big Ten officials last fall at league headquarters.
The Big Ten expects to complete its new bowl lineup by the end of the spring.
The next cycle for Big Ten bowls is a year away (2014-17), but these deals will be struck quickly. The bowl landscape is changing. Bowls need flexibility to create attractive match-ups. Schools need to not lose money when it comes to bowls. That landscape is in for a reshape and if you’re in the bowl matchmaking business, it’s good to be buds with the Big Ten.
Big Ten conference commissioner Jim Delany has mentioned the Pinstripe Bowl (NYC, Yankee Stadium) as a bowl of interest. The Gator Bowl is the first I would ax. The Big Ten is involved in the three Florida bowls you want to be involved with (Capital One, Outback and, don’ forget, the league is guaranteed at least three Orange Bowl appearances over 12 years beginning in 2014).
Here’s the biggest reason, for me, why the Holiday and Pinstripe bowls work: It spreads the Big Ten around. I understood the logic of playing five B1G bowls on Jan. 1, building up to the Rose Bowl with Big Ten games, but it slotted Big Ten against Big Ten. Most Big Ten people want to watch Big Ten bowls and not have to flip between three games.
Doesn’t the Rose Bowl stand for itself? (BTW, the TV window is open with the Orange Bowl deal. The leagues — B1G, ACC, SEC and Notre Dame — already has said it will work around the new four-team playoff format that begins in 2014. It won’t go head-to-head with the Rose.)
The Holiday is generally a late December bowl, which would blend nicely with the Buffalo Wild Wings (formerly Insight), the Pinstripe and Meineke Car Care Bowl. Big Ten would have its own night for those games and then, perhaps, play three (Rose, Cap One and Outback) on Jan. 1.
San Diego is a pretty cool place, too.