- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big Ten's next bowl lineup not only will feature several new games but a new process for assigning teams to their postseason destinations.
While most conferences will continue to assign their contract bowls a selection number after all the spots in the College Football Playoff and other BCS-type bowls are filled, the Big Ten will adopt a tiered system for its postseason tie-ins.
Bowls likely will be played in an upper tier, a middle tier and a bottom tier, and the Big Ten will work with bowl officials to place teams in games. The goal: to freshen up the bowl landscape.
"It's counterproductive to send the same teams to the same bowls in consecutive [years] or four out of five years," commissioner Jim Delany said Monday on a conference call with reporters to announce the Big Ten's six-year agreements with the Holiday and Kraft Fight Hunger bowls for the 2014-19 seasons. "Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."
Delany said the Holiday Bowl in San Diego will be in the top tier of Big Ten bowls. Although the league hasn't officially announced it will continue agreements with the Capital One and Outback bowls, those games also will be in the top tier.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in the San Francisco area and the Pinstripe Bowl in New York will be in the middle tier, Delany said.
No other Big Ten bowl agreements have been officially announced, but here's what the tiers likely will look like, based on conversations with league sources.
Top tier: Capital One, Outback, Holiday
Middle tier: Gator/Music City (sharing a tie-in during six-year agreement), Kraft Fight Hunger, Pinstripe
Lower tier: Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces (sharing a tie-in during six-year agreement), new Detroit bowl (managed by Detroit Lions)
The Big Ten could add another lower-tier bowl on the East Coast, and the Military Bowl in the Washington D.C. area is a possibility. Dropping out of the Big Ten's lineup are the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Meineke Care Care Bowl of Texas and the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
The Rose Bowl remains in its own tier for the Big Ten, and the league also will appear in the Orange Bowl at least three times between 2014-26. In those seasons, an ACC team would take the Big Ten's spot in the Capital One Bowl, sources have told colleagues Brett McMurphy and Heather Dinich.
The Pac-12, meanwhile, will keep a traditional selection order with its bowls. The Holiday will select the No. 3 Pac-12 team after Rose/Playoff and Alamo, while Kraft Fight Hunger moves up to No. 4.
"We're working with the bowls to create what I would describe as a process for selection and approval by each bowl, subject to a series of parameters," Delany said Monday. "We're going to really want to have different teams in different bowls. I think early on in the cycle, you'll see something that resembles a selection process, but as the bowls unfold, you'll see a real focus on getting diversity and freshness."
Delany said the tiers are more for bowls than teams, although Big Ten teams with the strongest records not participating in the Playoff/Rose/Orange would go to the top-tier bowls. All three bowl agreements the Big Ten has announced include the stipulation that at least five different teams will appear during the first six years of the deals.
Repeat selections have been a problem for the Big Ten and other conferences in recent years. Nebraska has appeared in the Capital One Bowl in each of the past two seasons, while Wisconsin went to Florida for bowl games in six consecutive seasons (2004-09).
Delany expects the league and its bowl partners to agree on team selections more often than not, but the league is definitely taking a more active role in trying to create more attractive matchups.
"Clearly, there'll be some bowls that will select with our approval in advance," Delany said, "but I think you're going to see a lot of movement by teams among bowls. We're fortunate that all these are fantastic destinations, they're world-class cities with opponents coming from world-class conferences.
"We think there are great brands on our side and great brands on the other side, and together, that will produce great bowl matchups."