September 28, 2012

One of the greatest sources of tension for Big East football fans and ND has not been the fact that ND stayed independent. Not that they wouldn’t fully commit, and on top of it they wouldn’t really schedule Big East teams unless it was on their terms (Pitt and Syracuse being exceptions owing to history). No, it was the bowl relationship. That on top of being able to park basketball and their olympic sports in the Big East, they could swoop in and grab a bowl bid just by being within two wins of the team inline for the bowl. A source of immense frustration that only exacerbated the anger most Big East football fans had towards the line-up of bowl options.

The justification from the Big East — and repeated so many times by so many — was that the Big East would not even have the bowl line-up it presently has (had?), but for the affiliation of Notre Dame as a carrot to the bowls. Which of course, begs the question,  what happens to the Big East bowl line-up post-ND? A related and more relevant question for Pitt fans, what about the ACC bowl line-up?

There is a slight possibility of actually finding out what Notre Dame’s impact on a conference bowl line-up beyond the perpetual rhetoric.

Pitt and Syracuse’s move to the ACC is essentially no impact on the bowls. Neither is a team that travels to bowls (or away games) particularly well. It’s a simple reality. Pitt can move the needle on TV ratings, but unless it is an ESPN-owned bowl (Hi, BBVA Compass!) that isn’t going to be a big deal to the bowl organizers.

Notre Dame, despise or merely loathe them, is different. With their subway alum, national recognition and everything; they are always an attraction. Whether for bowl games or as a marquee home opponent. The move of ND provides an interesting chance to measure their impact on the bowl line-up.

Some of the heavy lifting is already done in an excellent post from BC Interruption that sees little to no impact on the ACC Bowl line-up.

I’m struggling to see where the improvement in the bowl lineup is going to come, either by destination city or matchup.

In terms of conference pairings, will the Big 12, missing from the ACC’s current bowl line-up, ditch one of its existing bowl tie-ins (Pinstripe Bowl vs. Big East) in order to hook up with Notre Dame and ACC programs that are regular staples of college football’s bloated postseason? How about the Big Ten, which doesn’t have any ACC ties but will when the new Orange Bowl deal kicks in? Does this open up the possibility of the Big Ten aligning with the ACC more for posteason options?

The conference will soon have as many as four bowl tie-ins with the SEC so that conference is pretty well tapped out. Does the PAC-12 dare to venture east of the Mississippi to take on an ACC program now that the Irish are a possible bowl opponent?

I’m also unclear where the improvement comes in terms of destination cities. One thing that is apparent is for the most part, these conferences tend to stay within the geographic confines of the conference when hitching themselves to a particular bowl game.

Here is the present ACC Bowl line-up:

ACC Champ: Orange vs. BCS at-large (Miami Gardens)
ACC #2: Chick-Fil-A vs. SEC #5 (Atlanta)
ACC #3: Russell Athletic vs. Big East #2 (Orlando)
ACC #4: Sun vs. Pac-12 #4 (El Paso)
ACC #5: Belk vs. Big East #3 (Charlotte)
ACC #6: Music City vs. SEC #7 (Nashville)
ACC #7: Independence vs. SEC  or #3 MWC (Shreveport, Louisiana)
ACC #8: Military vs. Army (Washington, D.C.)

Now here is what the Big East has going for itself:

Big East Champ: BCS at-large (somewhere for a couple more years)
Big East #2: Russell Athletic vs. ACC #3 (Orlando)
Big East #3: Belk vs. ACC #5 (Charlotte)
Big East #4: Pinstripe vs. Big 12 #7 (NYC)
Big East #5: BBVA Compass vs. SEC #8/9  (Birmingham) AND/OR
Big East #6: Beef O’Brady (St. Petersburg) C-USA #2-6 OR AutoZone Liberty (Memphis) vs C-USA #1

The whole Big East tie-in with BBVA, Beef and Autozone is a little convoluted:

The BIG EAST completed its bowl lineup by renewing deals with the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., and the Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla. The conference also announced a new agreement with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. The BIG EAST will send teams to two of those three games in each of the 2010-13 seasons.

The BBVA Compass Bowl pairs a BIG EAST team against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference at Legion Field in Birmingham.

If a BIG EAST team is chosen for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the conference’s representative would face either the Conference USA champion or an opponent from the Southeastern Conference.

The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl will be played for the fifth time in 2012. The BIG EAST representative will face a Conference USA

Which is how SMU from C-USA ended up in the BBVA last year.

I realize BC has been in the ACC for some 8 or 9 years, and has had time to get jaded. But I fail to see how the ACC Bowl line-up is “only marginally better at this point.” Coming from the Big East, the ACC options looks so much better. And if the Big East bowl line-up actually manages to get worse, then at least the argument that the Irish helped the BE with the bowls gets some support.

No, the ACC isn’t at the level of the Big 10 or SEC. At the same time, there is an opportunity. Especially with the Pac-12.

Here’s what the Pac-12 has going for it.

Pac-12 Champ: Rose vs. Big 10 Champ (Pasadena)
Pac-12 #2: Alamo vs. Big 12 #3 (San Antonio)
Pac-12 #3: Holiday vs. Big 12 #5 (San Diego)
Pac-12 #4: Sun vs. ACC #4 (El Paso)
Pac-12 #5: Maaco vs. MWC #1 (Las Vegas)
Pac-12 #6: Kraft vs. Navy (San Francisco)
Pac-12 #7: New Mexico vs. MWC #4/5 (Albuquerque)

Destinations are probably a bit better, than the ACC’s. But competition is meh, and likely to get worse. Especially when you have two Mountain West opponents in this list.

When the SEC and Big-12 add their own bowl, that means the Alamo and Holiday get pushed down further for the Big 12 pecking order. While the Alamo Bowl would probably want to keep their Big 12 tie-in because of 3 Texas schools, the Pac-12 should want something better for their #2 bowl team than the #4 Big 12 team.

This is probably why the Pac-12 is so eager to affiliate itself with whatever additional bowl gets created to appease the Big East and the other four 1-A conferences.

A person with direct knowledge of the plan for the four-team playoff in 2014 told The Associated Press on Wednesday that either a Pac-12 or a Big 12 team likely will be the opponent for the top-rated champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conferences did not want to make the plan public.

The proposal has the Pac-12 sending either its champion or a replacement team to the game in years when the Rose Bowl hosts a national semifinal. In years the Rose Bowl is a traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, the Big 12 would send one of its top teams to the game.

The deal with the Big 12 and Pac-12 would be similar to the one the Orange Bowl is working on with the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference.

As it stands, the deal in that construct still creates quite a drop-off for the Pac-12 in their bowls and competition. That suggests some opportunity for the ACC with the Pac-12 regarding the #2 game to be slotted above the Alamo.

Does the possibility of Notre Dame help? ND won’t be able to jump as many teams — it will have to be within 1 win of the ACC team in-line for the bowl to get picked as opposed to 2 in the Big East. Is it irrelevant to the overall negotiations? And where the hell could a game be played that might get both ACC and Pac-12 fans to travel?

The last question may be the biggest obstacle to an additional bowl relationship between the ACC and Pac-12. The Pac-12 does not appear interested in traveling too far outside of its own footprint. The ACC has been willing in the past, but they have not been pretty MPC (Boise), Emerald (now the Kraft in SF).

It may be the irrational optimism that comes from getting out of the Big East, but I think the ACC has some real opportunities to improve their overall bowl layout in the next few years. With or without the association of ND.

It won’t be enough to satisfy those who insist that unless the ACC has the same level of Bowl tie-ins of the SEC and Big 10, then the line-up is a joke. That simply won’t happen. There aren’t enough teams in the conference with both the consistent quality performance and/or well-traveling alumni for that to happen. It will improve.

Once the BE loses its BCS game, which is likely in a few years, the ACC / BE comparison won’t even exist. BE will become the MWC or the MAC as far as bowls go.
With Orlando and Charlotte as a push, I’d gladly take Atlanta, Nashville, El Paso and DC over Birmingham, NYC and St. Pete. Not even close.
More importantly the tie-ins with the Pac-12 and SEC give the ACC much better exposure than the BE lineup.
My only wish is that the ACC gets tied in for a game with the B10 somewhere east of the Mississippi, relatively warm and drivable.
ND is a mixed bag, but generally they take away more from the conference than they deliver. When an ACC team is sitting home because a mediocre ND team gets invited over them, they will get to experience what life has been like in the BE. Its my fear that this is the position Pitt will be in when it first joins the ACC.

Comment by Taxing Matters 09.28.12 @ 2:53 pm

Agreed. There should be at least one bowl arrangement for ACC v Big Pretend.

How about a Pitt-ASU bowl game next year?


Comment by pittbluegold 09.28.12 @ 3:07 pm

up the Maaco (Las Vegas) and find a new home for the MWC #1. like the sun bowl

Comment by dcpinpgh 09.28.12 @ 4:40 pm

Step back and consider, the whole bowl game scenario is laughable.

To wit, the people who frequent this blog…all 200 of us…must have been the totality of viewership for last year’s Pitt bowl game.

(Which begs a quickie quiz: Which bowl? Who did we play? Who won? No Googling please)

Comment by steve1 09.28.12 @ 5:53 pm

I can dream, but how about the ACC/ND horning in on the Holiday Bowl in Sna Diego?

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 09.28.12 @ 6:04 pm


We got beat up by SMU in the Beef a Roni Bowl. Final score 42-6. The score evades me, but that’s my best guess
But I get your point.

Comment by SFPitt 09.29.12 @ 2:29 am

Great read about bowls. Always about money but at least players get a reward.

Maybe Pitt comes to Fedex so I do not travel to far.

Anybody have extra Louisville tickets?

Frank MD

Comment by Frank MD 09.29.12 @ 9:50 am

I’d actually like to see the ACC swoop in on the Pinstripe Bowl. I know northern bowls aren’t as sexy and it has no history, but I think its not a half-bad destination and that bowl has potential for growth both in terms of the size of payout and quality of opponents . . . guess those two sort of go hand-in-hand

Comment by TartanPanther 09.29.12 @ 10:47 am

Hard to believe the former Chumps Sports Bowl is 2nd in pecking order on the BIgLeaST Bowl List.

They use to get the #8 team from the Little 11 (Big Joke).
And is this the bowl that has the former steeped in history(lol) Tangerine Bowl game records. I seem to remember Pitt playing in that bowl circa 1978 and again in the WLAT days. Ironically both against NC State if my memory serves correct.

So then we are all in agreement, 3 in a row for the Compass Gyroscope Classic for Sir Tino’s last game. Maybe they’ll give PITT fans a big discount on tickets, for having to put up with er I mean getting the reward of visiting the Pittsburgh of the South again. Can’t wait for bowl season, yippee !! 🙂

Comment by Emel 09.29.12 @ 5:40 pm

Let’s not get the cart before the horse — Pitt needs to qualify for a bowl game, any bowl game. I’d like to see Pitt play in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl but I guess I’m just selfish living in Atlanta.


Comment by MariettaMike 09.30.12 @ 8:30 am

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