I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to forget just how stale the Big Ten's bowl lineup can feel until it's this time of year. What do I mean by that? Well, mostly that the B1G plays too many games in essentially the same places and against the same teams (at least in terms of conferences). As a reminder, let's look at the current bowl lineup with my thoughts on each one.
Rose Bowl vs. Pac-12: The Granddaddy will never become stale, especially not to Minnesota fans who might amputate a limb to see the Gophers play in one.
Capitol One Bowl vs. SEC: A fine bowl for everything except location. Good TV slot as an ABC national game on January 1 against a quality opponent. Orlando is meh, but it is in Florida and if you're like me there is plenty of golf to enjoy.
Outback Bowl vs. SEC: I've always been partial to Tampa b/c I have family in the area and it's supposed to have a crazy bar scene if that's your thing. Usually results in a matchup against another good SEC team. All in all, not a bad #3 bowl.
Gator Bowl vs. SEC: This is where things start to drag. ANOTHER Florida bowl, this time in a city that no one really wants to visit. I mean, I like JAX well enough. My brother is stationed just across the border in Kings Bay, GA so I've been there. And like most cities, you can find stuff to do. But it would never be super high on anyone's list of MUST SEE places. And ANOTHER SEC team? Can we get some variety please? I'd agree that this is an improvement over the Citrius Bowl (or whatever the other Orlando Bowl is called now) since that game was played in the same stadium as the Cap One bowl (nothing is more stale than 2 destinations in the same location) but consider me underwhelmed.
Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Big 12: The first of several Big 12 matchups. The Phoenix area has never been a huge draw to me, but the bowl's placement on the ASU campus does mean plenty of high quality diversions if a crazy bar scene full of attractive ASU co-eds is your thing. Plus, lots of golf for those so inclined. Then again, there are plenty of bad memories for Gophers fans so...ya know, hit and miss. Usually a decent (though not great) Big 12 opponent as well. A bowl I'd keep.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Big 12: I'm sure many Gopher fans had a good time in Houston, but to me there is nothing exciting about this bowl at all. Houston doesn't excite me as a destination, a bowl in a dome doesn't excite me, and at this point you could be looking at facing off against a 6-6 team some years. And how many 7-5 or 6-6 Big 12 teams do you find interesting?
Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Big 12 (or sometimes C-USA): Another bowl that I am completely underwhelmed by. Again, Dallas doesn't interest me and we're WELL into the "stale" territory with yet another Big 12 opponent. The diversity offered by a potential Conference USA matchup doesn't make this bowl any more desirable.
Little Caesers Bowl vs. MAC: I don't hate this bowl as much as some. Yes, Detroit in December is underwhelming. But when you're talking the bottom of your bowl list any of the choices is likely to be underwhelming. I think the bigger issue is that this game usually pits a very mediocre B1G team against the MAC champion, which is a matchup that usually favors the MAC. In other words, you go to Detroit for the chance to embarrass yourself.
All in all, I'd have to say my least favorite things about this lineup is the fact that the #2 - #4 bowls are all in Florida versus the SEC, the #5 - #7 bowls are all versus the Big 12, the #6 and #7 bowls are both in Texas, and that the #8 bowl is in Detroit. Oh, and let us not forget the genius idea of having 5 of the games on NYD in a schedule that has 4 of them happening at the same time. The geographic/conference opponent patterns and lack of variety in this lineup is very noticeable and screams for the B1G shake things up a little bit.
Thankfully it sounds like the B1G might be considering doing just that. In a recent story by WWL blogger Adam Rittenburg, our benevolent overlord Jim Delaney is qouted as alluding to the fact that he'd like to see the conference change, expand, and diversify its bowl lineup.
"We want to play the best," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I don't think you'll see any radical changes in those areas, but you'll probably see us having more interactions with more conferences. I'm not exactly sure how that'll play out, but the sites will be national and the quality of opponents will be national."
Delany said the Big Ten met with officials from 10-12 bowl games in November at league headquarters in Park Ridge, Ill. Although Delany's top priorities are figuring out the new division alignment -- with Maryland and Rutgers set to join the league -- and revising the 2014 football schedule, but he hopes to have the bowl lineup, which likely will span the 2014-17 seasons, finalized before the summer.
The Big Ten won't compromise degree of difficulty in the lineup, but Delany understands that a lack of variety can turn off fans interested in traveling to different areas. He attributes part of the bowls' recent attendance/interest problems to a lack of diversity in participating teams.
"We're going to try and be national and try to have relationships on both coasts and maybe in areas we haven't been before," Delany said. "There will be more diversity in teams that get to go, so no one goes to Florida five times in six years or even three years in a row. I hope we would put together a slate of games where our alums live, where we recruit and against opponents that will test us every year. Those are the elements.
So, what does that all mean? It certainly sounds like we should expect the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC to be a likely part of the new bowl lineup given Delaney's previous comments at the B1G's spring meetings. Rittenburg also calls out something than many forget (or don't yet know), that the Big Ten will have a more in depth relationship with the Orange Bowl once the new playoff structure begins following the 2014 season. But the rest of the lineup seems to be purely speculative.
As a blogger, that's my cue to speculate and propose my ideal bowl lineup. I'm going to try to work within the realm of possibility and logic (i.e. no bowls that have clear and long-standing ties to other leagues like the Cotton or Chick-fil-a will be listed). That said, there are important details like monetary payouts and such that I don't have the time or interest in fully researching so some of my proposed choices might not make sense in that regard. But I definitely have some thoughts to share. Specifically, I'd love to see the Gator Bowl, either the Car Parts or Heart of Dallas, and possibly the Pizza! Pizza! bowls replaced with something new. In the end, it'd be nice to see a at least one more game against a Pac-12 opponent and see a wider geographic footprint represented (i.e. another game in CA please). As always, I'm looking to you to mock me in the comments or hopefully choose to be kind and simply propose your own alternate lineups. =)
So let's take a look at the BEST B1G BOWL LINEUP EVER PRESENTED BY GOAUPHER AND THE BEBOP-A-REEBOP RHUBARB PIE COMPANY:
- Rose Bowl vs. Pac-12: Duh.
- Orange Bowl vs. ACC: will only happen some of the time but is a for sure based on the signed contracts.
- Capitol One Bowl vs. SEC: Best SEC match-up stays on the books.
(NEW) Holiday Bowl vs. Pac-12: This one makes a lot of sense. First, it's in San Diego which is a fantastic city to visit despite the fact that it was named after part of the reproductive system of a female whale. Second, the current matchup is Pac-12 #3 versus Big 12 #5. The Big 12 is a good conference to matchup with, but I could see the Holiday Bowl being swayed by the chance to pick up the #3 (or #4) team from the traditional conference rival of the Pac-12.
Outback Bowl vs. SEC: 2nd best SEC match-up should also stay. Dropping it down a spot might now work though given A) it's placement as a traditional B1G NYD game and the fact that it might make the B1G/SEC mismatch even worse, especially in years when the B1G is strong and puts multiple teams into the future equivalent of the "BCS" games.
(DROPPED) Gator Bowl vs. SEC. Bye bye Gator Bowl.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Big 12: Best of the Big 12 matchups in a non-Texas state definitely stays.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Big 12: I'm not sold on keeping this one, but you have to have at least 1 game in Texas.
(DROPPED) Heart of Dallas Bowl. Goodbye bowl in city I like less than Houston that is played in crappy stadium.
(NEW) Pinstripe Bowl vs. ACC: This is all speculation as the Pinstripe Bowl is currently a Big East/Big 12 bowl. But I'm just taking a wild guess that Delaney doesn't want a lower tier bowl matchup against the Big East and I don't want another matchup versus the Big 12. Ergo, I pretend I'm right and pick the ACC. I could see the ACC wanting in as it puts their teams into a matchup in the NYC market which is an area they are working to better penetrate following the addition of Syracuse.
Little Caesars Bowl vs. MAC: I know people want this one to go away, but I don't think it will. I think Delaney likes 1 bowl in the B1G footprint versus our "friends" in the MAC. However, if I could I would replace it with the...
(NEW) Valhalla Bowl vs. MAC: Played in the new Vikings stadium, the Valhalla Bowl would be the much cooler version of the Pizza! Pizza! Bowl. Better city, better name, better stadium. What's not to love? Sadly it only exists in my imagination.
Other new bowls that could be considered (to replace either the Holiday or Pinstripe Bowls)? The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl would be ok given the fact that it's held in San Francisco and would allow for a Pac-12 matchup. The Poinsettia Bowl would get us another CA bowl, but we'd need the Pac-12 to join in and I doubt they want another bowl in San Diego. The Music City Bowl could get us another ACC matchup if we took the place of the SEC, but I can't see why that bowl would prefer that outcome. And...well, I honestly don't see much else unless the B1G takes back it's old spot in the Sun Bowl. That'd get us another Pac-12 matchup but it's yet another bowl in a shitty city in Texas. So not worth considering IMO. Every other bowl that could be an option doesn't help us with improving diversity of matchup, unless you come up with a off the wall scenario like the Poinsettia where you replace both of the current lower level conference opponents with the B1G and someone we want (i.e. ACC or Pac-12).
So, the recap of my proposed lineup results in the following:
- ACC = 1 for sure, 2 in some years
- Big 12 = 2
- MAC = 1
- Pac-12 = 2
- SEC =2
Games by State:
- Arizona = 1
- California = 2
- Florida = 2 (or 3 some years)
- Michigan (or Minnesota) = 1
- New York = 1
- Texas =1
A much better mix of opponents and states then the current lineup. Which to me means that it is clearly pure genius. However, if you disagree what would your improved B1G bowl lineup look like? What bowls would you like to see become B1G bowls? Would you drop a different bowl? Share your ideas below.