The Big 12 meetings are under way in Irving, Texas, and among the topics of discussions are bowl tie-ins. In 2014, the Big 12′s bowl look will change. The Cotton Bowl is in the national title rotation, so it won’t be an automatic Big 12 stop. The Sugar Bowl has replaced the Fiesta Bowl as the destination of the Big 12 champ or a substitute, should the Big 12 place a squad in the Football Four.
What will the Big 12 bowl rotation look like? There are some good guesses. The Holiday Bowl out (looks like the Big Ten will replace the Big 12), the Russell Athletic Bowl in. The Alamo Bowl moving up the pecking order.
But here’s a question. What should the Big 12 bowl rotation look like. What would be the best Big 12 rotation?
The Big 12 could use seven bowl tie-ins, plus one of the major bowls that serve as the national semifinals. Last season, nine Big 12 teams qualified for the post-season. That’s an aberration. Not too many years will nine make it. The combination of soft non-conference schedules and parity throughout the league allowed every team but Kansas to reach at least six wins. Most years, that won’t happen. But eight figure to make it most years, so best to be prepared.
Here’s a bowl lineup that would serve the Big 12 well, if the conference can somehow pull it off:
1. Sugar Bowl: It’s not ideal that the Big 12 plays an SEC powerhouse in an SEC enclave every year. On the other hand, the SEC sent a team to the Cotton Bowl for the last 15 years, and playing in Dallas didn’t help the Big 12. So what does it matter?
2. Alamo Bowl: San Antonio is a big-time big-event site.
3. Gator Bowl: Actually, any bowl in Florida will do. The Outback would be ideal — Tampa is a great spot, and the Big Ten could be looking to add more California bowls, at the expense of a Florida bowl — but the Gator or Russell Athletic is more likely. The Gator has more tradition, but Orlando is a better destination than is Jacksonville.
4. Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl: This Houston bowl needs a new name, but it’s got a chance to become a decent bowl, since the Houston organizing committee is apparently serious about its big events. A potential partnership with the SEC gives the Big 12 another shot denting the SEC’s runaway prestige.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: The Fiesta’s little brother has slipped in stature because of a smaller payout, but it’s still a great area — the Big 12 will miss the desert — and the Big 12 needs some exposure out West.
6. Sun Bowl: I know, it’s a long way to El Paso. And you can’t go to Juarez anymore. And sometimes it snows in late December. But dang it, the Sun Bowl people put on a good bowl and the city supports it. There’s something cool about having 50,000 people at a bowl game no matter who is playing. And the Sun Bowl/CBS partnership, which dates back half a century, shows the bowl’s stability.
7. Liberty Bowl: Iowa State took 30,000 to Memphis, and having just returned from Memphis, I can attest that it’s a solid destination trip. Go to Memphis for three days, and you won’t be looking for stuff to do. It’s an easy drive for Iowa State, OU, OSU, TCU and Baylor, and it would at least give West Virginia another East-of-the-Mississippi option. Not much east, but every little bit helps.