Cotton Bowl has 'Cats on 'wish list'

Rumor: The loser of the Big 12 championship game can fall no lower in the league's postseason bowl lineup than the Cotton Bowl or Holiday Bowl.

Rumor is right.

Rick Baker, executive director of the Cotton Bowl, said "... there is no protection for the loser of the Big 12 title game."

Baker did say, however, that a "safety net" does exist between the Cotton, Holiday and Alamo bowls for a BCS bowl-eligible team, or one ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS ranking. It's the second year for such an agreement that should a Big 12 hold that ranking, it would be guaranteed a position in one of the three bowls.

Colorado was an example of that last year as it lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, but finished No. 12 in the final BCS ranking. The Buffs went to the Alamo Bowl.

This year, without a gentleman's agreement, such a team would go to the Holiday Bowl in the rotation agreement.

The winner of the Dec. 6 Big 12 title game gets an automatic BCS bowl invitation. Should that be an unbeaten Oklahoma team, the Sooners would go to the Sugar Bowl to play for the national championship.

Should the North entry — K-State, Nebraska or Missouri — pull a title-game upset, the invitation would likely come from the Fiesta Bowl, the BCS anchor bowl for the Big 12 Conference.

Should the North winner upset a No. 1-ranked Sooner team, because of OU's high ranking, it would also likely get a BCS position as one of the two at-large teams.

While early, Baker said all three North candidates were intriguing to the Cotton Bowl's selection committee, as is Oklahoma State from the South Division.

Baker said there's a certain degree of "nervousness" when taking a team coming off a loss, but he added, "The way K-State fans responded after losing the 2000 Big 12 title game and still supported its team makes us less nervous now than we were before."

If not reaching a BCS bowl, it's likely that Texas would go to the Alamo Bowl. The reasoning is that the Longhorns have been to the Cotton Bowl in three of the last five years and the Holiday Bowl in two of the last five years.

This year's Cotton Bowl, which matches the Big 12 versus the SEC, will be played on Jan. 2, 2004, with a 1 p.m. kickoff. For the past several years, the game was on New Year's Day starting at 10 a.m.

"This is a better TV time since the 2nd falls on a Friday, which most people will still consider a holiday," said Baker. "We will be the only game being played at that time, so we're excited to see how it will play out."

In the past, the only time that the Cotton Bowl was not played on Jan. 1, was when that date fell on a Sunday.

Next year, Baker said that Jan. 1 will be on a Saturday, and it will be the date for the Cotton Bowl with the kickoff going back to 10 a.m.

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