The Big 12 has not officially announced its bowl alliances starting with the 2014 season. But plenty of speculation has ensued, and now Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw has given us even more clues on the future of Big 12 postseason destinations.
In an online chat with Baylor fans this week, McCaw revealed what he thinks will be the bowl tie-ins for the Big 12:
“The Big 12 and SEC have cemented an agreement to have their respective champions play in the Sugar Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff. We anticipate that we will regularly have a second team play among the six games that make up the playoff system as well. The remaining bowl destinations will likely include San Antonio, Houston, Orlando, Memphis, Phoenix and the Metroplex. The final details are still being worked out, and I expect that they will be finalized over the summer. The Big 12 will continue to have strong bowl partner relationships in attractive destinations for our fans.”
So there you have it. The Sugar, the Alamo, the Meineke Car Care of Texas, the Russell Athletic, the Liberty, the Buffalo Wild Wings and the Heart of Dallas bowls. That’s seven bowls, plus a hoped-for second bid to the majors. So that’s eight slots for bowl teams.
The Big 12, of course, had nine bowl teams a year ago, but that’s an aberration. In most years, the Big 12 will be hard-pressed to qualify eight teams for bowls.
So how strong is the lineup? Let’s compare it to recent Big 12 bowl lineups, with the current bowl lined up with the corresponding future bowl:
No. 1: Fiesta vs. Sugar. A push, except that the alliance with the SEC gives the Big 12 a little more status. The Big 12 needs to win one every once in awhile, which has not been the case over the course of the Big 12/SEC Cotton Bowl agreement.
No. 1-B: BCS at-large vs. College Football Playoff at-large. College Football Playoff gets the edge, because of the availability. Only four at-large berths are available in the BCS format. Six will be available in the College Football Playoff system.
No. 2: Cotton vs. Alamo. The Alamo moves up to take the Cotton’s place. The Alamo doesn’t have the historical status of the Cotton, but San Antonio is a better destination city. And the Cotton provided a better matchup than the Alamo, which is aligned with the Pac-12.
No. 3: Alamo vs. Meineke Car Care. The Alamo is a much better bowl than the Houston bowl, which can’t settle on a name or a conference. Some think the Houston bowl will match the Big 12 and SEC.
No. 4: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Russell Athletic. The Fiesta’s little brother has moved up the bowl chain in recent years, but it’s not been a great bowl for the Big 12, which is usually matched against a mediocre Big Ten team. The Russell Athletic gets the nod; it gives the Big 12 a Florida presence and a chance to play an ACC opponent.
No. 5: Holiday vs. Liberty. San Diego swamps Memphis in desirability. But most Big 12 fan bases can drive to Memphis, which is a cool city, even in the dregs of winter. However, the Holiday provided an upper-level Pac-12 opponent. The Liberty’s other tie-in is unknown.
No. 6: Houston vs. Buffalo Wild Wings. This is a sign of changing status within bowls. Houston is rising, Buffalo Wild Wings is dropping. The Buffalo Wild Wings is expected to add a lower-level Pac-12 tie-in.
No. 7: Pinstripe vs. Heart of Dallas. A bowl in New York City sounded like a great idea. Instead, it stunk. Bad weather, hard to get around for the teams, crazy expensive for fans. The Big 12 is letting the Pinstripe go and glad to do it. The conference tie-in is even better, with the Big 12 trading in the Big East for the Big Ten.