Thoughts on the Big Ten bowl lineup

May, 11, 2009
5/11/09
5:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The ACC recently made a change to its bowl lineup, swapping the Humanitarian Bowl for the much-closer GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The Big Ten is locked into its bowl agreements through the 2009 season, but the tie-ins will undoubtedly be discussed at next week's meeting of league coaches and athletic directors in Chicago. 

There's some mounting concern about two Big Ten bowl tie-ins, the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl, both of which are held at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. At issue is the stadium and plans for renovations, which the Big Ten and SEC desperately want but might not get in the current economic climate. 

[Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan] said the SEC and Big Ten have grown tired of waiting for the renovation -- especially with other cities such as Dallas, with a new $1 billion stadium, looking to muscle in on Orlando's bowl positioning.

"The first thing the commissioners told me was 'I thought you guys had approved renovation of the stadium. I don't think you guys realize how important this is for us,'" Hogan said. " ... I didn't expect to be shocked as I was about how pointed and concerned our existing sponsors are right now."

It would be tough to see the Big Ten dump the Orlando games, especially the Capital One, considered by many to be the most prestigious non-BCS bowl. But it's always a good idea to evaluate the league's entire bowl lineup.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen thinks the Big Ten should make at least one change, swapping either the Insight or Motor City bowls for another game, or possibly adding a game. Asmussen argues that the Big Ten could benefit from a bowl game located closer to the league footprint, or perhaps a second bowl in tourist-friendly California. 

I doubt anyone has a major problem with the Outback or Alamo bowls. Those are solid games, so let's not waste time there.

The Big Ten's decision to trade the Sun and Music City bowls for the Champs Sports and Insight looked good at the time, and despite the stadium issues, the Champs Sports is a solid destination for mid-level Big Ten teams. I love the Sun Bowl and the Pac-10 matchup and would be thrilled if it came back, though El Paso is a tough place to travel to. The Insight Bowl is in a great location, but doesn't provide the exposure of other comparable bowl games.

The Motor City is an interesting dilemma for the Big Ten. Keep in mind the MAC-Big Ten relationship does help with nonconference scheduling, especially in this era of playing FCS teams. Playing a MAC team in the postseason helps this relationship. But few Big Ten fan bases like the idea of downtown Detroit in December.

On the other hand, it's rare when a Big Ten team actually plays in the Motor City Bowl. Only two teams have appeared in the game since the agreement began before the 2002 season.    

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