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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Big 12's bowl lineup looking for a big shift?

By David Ubben

College football is preparing to enter a brave new world in 2014 with the advent of a four-team playoff, and that also means bowl alliances will be shifting.

For the Big 12, that could mean more bowl games within driving distance, in part inspired by Iowa State fans' mass exodus to last year's Liberty Bowl. Over 14,000 Cyclones fans bought tickets from the school to the bowl game, and around 25,000 showed up to the stadium in Memphis on game day. ISU only landed in because nine Big 12 teams made bowls and the league only had eight bowl tie-ins, but the Big 12 sounds intriuged by the prospect of adding more bowl games in Tennessee, as well as Florida, which had been previously reported.

From the Associated Press:
"I think that probably did cause us to think about bowls closer to home," (Big 12 commissioner Bob) Bowlsby said in a recent phone interview.

Bowlsby declined to talk about specific bowls being targeted by the Big 12, but a person familiar with the conference's plans told The Associated Press league officials are interested in striking a deal with at least one of the Tennessee bowls games -- the Liberty Bowl or the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville.

...

Ames, Iowa, is about a six-hour drive from Memphis.

Most of the other nine Big 12 schools are within seven to 10 hours of Memphis -- not a short trip but doable in a day.

"Our guys said we'd be well advised to have some bowl that we can drive to," Bowlsby said.

I'd be hesitant to make major decisions based on Iowa State here, because simply going to a bowl game means a lot more to that program than many in the Big 12, but getting away to Memphis or Nashville during the holiday season is definitely attractive and cost-effective.

New York, meanwhile, sounds fun. It's proven to be a headache for Big 12 fans and teams who have endured travel troubles, practice inconveniences (everybody loves holding practices in hotel ballrooms, right? West Virginia and Kansas State had to do it in 2012 and 2010, respectively) and low attendance, and the report says what's long been assumed among most everyone in the Big 12: The relationship between the league and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is likely to end soon.

While the Big 12 looks toward Florida for a game, the Big Ten wants more games in California, which could mean the Big 12's alliance with the Holiday Bowl could end, too. Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said the bowl game is looking at all its options for now.

We could see some more movement and more comments on the record after this week's BCS meetings, but a little bit of variety in the Big 12 bowl lineup would be a welcome change, I'm sure.