As bowl games start changing hands again, the Big Ten appears to have its first changes for the new cycle. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that the Big Ten will share the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl between 2014 and 2019 — each conference will appear in each game three times during that span — and play against the SEC. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as popular belief was that the Big Ten would be dropping the Gator Bowl altogether.
Overall, this looks like a good move for the Big Ten. It means the conference will keep up its rivalry with the SEC — say what you want, those leagues have more animosity between them than any others do — and it also adds a favorable location in Nashville. A number of fans told us they hoped the Big Ten would add the Music City Bowl because it would provide for a new, fun location, but also work well for travel
As far as the Gator Bowl goes, it’s not a top game, but it still gets pretty good matchups and is a good game for the Big Ten to have on its slate. McMurphy was told by a source (in the article linked above) that it’s a “huge blow” for the ACC to not exclusively hold the Gator Bowl slot against the SEC. The more mid-to-upper-tier bowls for the Big Ten to have some sort of relationship with, the better for the conference.
This is only the start of the bowl game realignment. As McMurphy notes, there is still a good chance that when a Big Ten team plays in the Orange Bowl — that will happen more often now, due to new top-tier tie-ins — an ACC team will take the Big Ten’s slot in the Capital One Bowl, so that’s another reason it’s good for the Big Ten to ensure it still sees the SEC enough in the postseason, even if it’s in lower-tier bowls.
As far of the rest of the lineup goes, ESPN’s Big Ten Blog gave a little big of insight into where the Big Ten could be playing in the future:
Big Ten had tie-in with Music City Bowl from 2002-05. Other potential additions are Pinstripe, Holiday. Don’t expect Texas Bowl to remain.
— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) May 13, 2013
We wrote about the issue earlier this month, and like most writers, we considered the Pinstripe and Holiday bowls to be heavy favorites. Now that the Big Ten is expanding into the New York City area, the Pinstripe Bowl makes sense. It allows the Big Ten to gain more influence there and it is consistent with the conference’s geographic goals. The Big Ten also has expressed an interest in playing more games against the Pac-12, so the Holiday Bowl is a logical option. It’s also a new, attractive destination for fans.
Update: Barry Alvarez confirmed the Pinstripe Bowl and Holiday Bowl news at Tuesday’s Big Ten meetings in Chicago:
Alvarez says Pinstripe Bowl virtually a done deal, and B1G officials really positive with the Holiday Bowl.
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) May 14, 2013
There are still some moving pieces, but here’s how a new Big Ten bowl lineup could look:
Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12, when not a semifinal)
Orange Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame, when not a semifinal)
Capital One Bowl (Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC)
Outback Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Gator Bowl (Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC)
Holiday Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Music City Bowl (Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC)
Pinstripe Bowl (Big Ten vs. ACC)
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (Big Ten vs. MAC)
At this point, that seems to leave the Big Ten with nine bowls per year. That seems like a lot, but with 14 teams, it’s certainly possible for the conference to fill all of them. We’ll keep you updated as more changes develop.