Deal between Big Ten, Gator Bowl could reshuffle bowl marriages
Big Ten, Gator Bowl discussing deal to lock-in conference's No. 4 or 5 seed
Teams from Big Ten and ACC could get $3 million each to play in Gator Bowl
As a result of deal, Alamo Bowl preparing to tie-in teams from Pac-10 and Big 12
A major reshuffling of several conferences' bowl arrangements beginning with the 2010 season could land the Big Ten a third New Year's Day bowl slot and result in new homes for the Pac-10 and Big East's No. 2 teams.
According to multiple sources, the Gator Bowl and Big Ten are discussing an agreement that would send that conference's No. 4 or 5 team to Jacksonville for the next four years. The Big Ten, which already sends its No. 2 and 3 teams to the Capital One and Outback Bowls, also in Florida, would take the place of the Big East and Big 12, which previously shared deal with the Gator Bowl. The ACC should continue to send its No. 3 team.
The Gator Bowl/Big Ten partnership is dependent on the bowl extending its title sponsorship with Konica Minolta and reaching a deal that would replace current television partner CBS with ESPN, neither of which have been finalized.
"We're still having conversations with the Big East and the Big Ten," said Gator Bowl President Rick Catlett, whose game would likely approach a $3 million payout (up from $2.25-$2.5 million). "We need to make sure our TV and title [deals] get done prior to making any commitments to conferences."
Most conferences' bowl partnerships are in the last year of a four-year cycle that coincided with the most recent BCS contract. The BCS recently finalized a new four-year deal with ESPN for the 2010-13 seasons, which is why dominoes are now starting to fall further down the chain.
For The Big Ten, the Gator Bowl would replace the Alamo Bowl, which has hosted a Big Ten team every year since 1995. The Seattle Times reported this week that the San Antonio game is close to sealing a deal that would pit the Pac-10's No. 2 team against the Big 12's No. 3 team, the same matchup that had previously been staged by San Diego's Holiday Bowl. It previously hosted the Big Ten and Big 12's No. 4 or 5 teams.
According to sources, the Gator and the Insight Bowl -- which previously sat sixth in the Big Ten's pecking order -- would alternate between the league's No. 4 and 5 selections. The Tempe, Ariz., game, which is expected to significantly increase its recent $1.2 million payout, will likely upgrade its Big 12 slot from No. 6 to No. 4.
Should the Big Ten/Gator deal go through, sources say the Big East is prepared to announce a deal that would send its No. 2 team to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando. The game previously hosted the Big Ten's No. 4 or 5 team. Notre Dame would be included in the Big East's arrangement, which could be announced by early next week.
According to the Seattle Times report, the Alamo Bowl agreed to pay the Big 12 and Pac-10 $3 million per team, up from $2.25 million, to land higher-ranked teams. If true, the deal would be a big boon for the Pac-10's previously thin bowl lineup. The league received $2.35 million from the Holiday Bowl for its No. 2 team.
The Alamo Bowl, traditionally played in prime time the last week of December, is moving to Jan. 2 this year because it falls on a Saturday night, but CEO Derrick Fox said Thursday that no plans have been set for future game dates.
With the moves by the Alamo and Insight bowls, the San Diego game is now expected to match Pac-10 No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 5, a significant downgrade from its previous standing.
"It's all about the money now," Holiday Bowl Executive Director Bruce Binkowski told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. "More power to the Alamo Bowl."
The Sun Bowl is expected to remain a Pac-10 partner as well, likely hosting its No. 4 team. It's unclear whether the Big 12 would and Big East would continue a shared arrangement with the El Paso game.
According to one source, the Big Ten is also in discussions with the Texas Bowl in Houston as a new spot for its No. 6 team. More shuffling is expected over the next couple of months, although one source said the SEC's bowl lineup is expected to remain relatively unchanged.
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