On Tuesday, the Seattle Times reported that the Alamo Bowl was close to reaching an agreement between the Big Ten and Pac 10, upgrading its payout and becoming the #3 pick for Big 12 teams. This would end a Big Ten tie in that dates back to 1995. Iowa has played in four Alamo Bowls, the most of any team in its history. Iowa has typically sent at least 12,000 fans to this game and has been involved in two Alamo Bowls (2001 & 2006) where over 60,000 fans were in attendance. The 2006 game had a 6.0 TV rating on ESPN, which at the time was its highest ever rating for a college football game.
While I am somewhat disheartened to think that San Antonio will no longer be a possible bowl destination for Iowa, as it was just perfect for fans, it's exciting to see that another January bowl game is a possibility for the Big Ten.
According to a report from Stewart Mandel of SI.com, the Gator Bowl is in serious discussions with the Big Ten for a partnership beginning in 2010. This would pit the Big Ten #4/#5 verses a team from the ACC in a January game. That would give the league FOUR January bowl tie ins; BCS/Rose, Cap One, Outback and the Gator. Also, the Insight.com bowl will be sliding up to alternate with the Gator on the #4/#5 picks. This was a similar set up the league had with the Champs and Alamo. It appears the Champs will no longer be in the picture, and that game was also played in Orlando at the same site as the Cap One.
Earlier this year, there was talk that the Big Ten was thinking of leaving its affiliation with the Cap One due to the dilapidated condition of the facility in Orlando. My guess is the concession was launching the second Orlando date and the league will retain its relationship with the Cap One, which is a great lead in to the Rose Bowl for television purposes.
The Texas Bowl in Houston is also in the mix, according to the SI.com article, for the Big Ten's #6 pick. That game is played in a beautiful facility that is immune to foul weather conditions.
The Insight.com bowl is played in Tempe, in Sun Devil Stadium. There are tens of thousands of Iowa fans that live in the Valley of the Sun on a year round basis. When Iowa plays in that game, which when you look at Iowa's bowl history and the number of times it has played in the Alamo, this is a likely destination for Iowa on a semi-regular basis just applying historical average finishes, the Hawkeyes will be a virtual home team. Many of you made the trip to the Iowa-Arizona State game in 2004 and there were well over 20,000 Hawkeye fans in attendance for a regular season road game. You can also count on great weather for the three or four days you are there, which makes it a great fit.
Iowa last played in the Gator Bowl against Florida in 1983, which was a rare frigid affair. That game has a lot of tradition and would likely match a Big Ten team against the #3 team from the BCS.
In 8 of the past 11 seasons, which is the length of time the BCS has been in place, the Big Ten has sent two teams to the BCS. That means that the Cap One has had the third selection from the Big Ten, the Outback has the fourth, and the fifth selection from the league has gone to either the Champs or the Alamo. That fifth selection in the ‘two up' scenario would now alternate between a January game in the Gator, and the Insight.
The bowl selections from the league are not tied to a team's finish in conference play or overall record. Were that the case, Northwestern would have been in Tampa last year and Iowa back in San Antonio, and Iowa would have been in San Antonio in 2005 and Michigan would have been in Tampa, but that was not the case.
Iowa's reputation for sending tens of thousands of fans to bowl games is going to make this possible new lineup exciting. In the majority of the Ferentz era bowl eligible years, the Hawks worst case scenario would have been the Insight.com.
That's not a bad consolation prize for a seven-win season, going up against the #4 or #4 team from the Big 12.
The Gator Bowl would likely no longer have a tie in with the Big East and Notre Dame, which would be tied in with the Champs. Based on the article mentioned before, The Big East #2 would go to the Champs, and Notre Dame would be a part of the Big East tie in.
As far as I am concerned, that shows you just how out of favor the Big East is with the bowls; their #2 team to the Champs??
The Big Ten will likely arrange for a seventh bowl tie in. Here is to hoping that it has nothing to do with Detroit.