Before the Rose Bowl, we'll have the unofficial Rose Bowl North and Rose Bowl South.
The Big Ten has inked new deals with the Holiday and Kraft Fight Hunger bowls and starting in 2014 will take on a second and third Pac-12 opponent in the postseason. The agreement for both bowls is six years.
This move has been rumored for a while and it's slightly bigger news for the Big Ten, since the Pac-12 is basically continuing its agreement with two of its current bowl partners. But switching up opponents is always refreshing.
Noteworthy, however, is that the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl gets a boost in prestige because it moves up in the pecking order from sixth to fourth. The Holiday Bowl retains its place in the selection process of Pac-12 teams (after the Rose/playoff pick and Alamo Bowl).
In an attempt to avoid the repetition of sending the same team to the same location several years in a row, the Big Ten is implementing a tier system for its selection process.
"We want to make sure that there is freshness," said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany on a conference call Monday. "That the bowl community is well-served. It's hard when a team goes to say, Florida, five times in six years, it's hard to get them excited. If you've been to the Rose Bowl three years in a row, maybe San Diego and San Francisco aren't the right places to go in your next bowl trip. There will be some selection order, it will be heavily influenced by freshness ... it's constrained by parameters to make sure that our teams and our players and our coaches have unique and fresh experiences."
The Pac-12 also announced on Monday that it's renewing its partnership with the Sun Bowl for another six years and it will pick after the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl selects its representative in the process.
As for the Las Vegas and New Mexico bowls, stay tuned. Asked Monday about the rest of the bowl lineup, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott offered this:
"We're not ready to announce some of our other arrangements," he said. "We will shortly. I think what you'll see at the end of the day, we've optimized our lineup. We've made some changes. But I think top to bottom you'll see improvements as evidenced by today's announcements ... I think you'll see top to bottom an even more robust bowl slate for us."
So more postseason changes could be coming.
Neither Scott nor Delany said the new bowl arrangements between the conferences were a direct result of last year's failed alliance between the teams. But given the history of the leagues and their common interests moving forward, it makes sense that they increase the postseason play beyond the Rose Bowl.
"Our conferences have a tremendous affinity toward one another and obviously tremendous tradition," Scott said. "We've looked for ways to play each other more often ... our schools like to play each other. If you look at the teams our schools play, tough, out of-conference-competition and you'll see a lot of Pac-12-Big Ten matchups. There's a tradition there."
Added Delany: "Our schools probably play each other as much as other conferences do and that goes back a long time. Collaborations don't happen very much because they are difficult. We had some difficulties on our side. [Scott] had some difficulties on his side. But what it didn't do was interrupt the communications. It didn't interrupt the desire to create good match-ups. I'm a firm believer in partnerships -- whether it's a ACC/Big Ten challenge or a Rose Bowl or bringing people together under the College Football Playoff. We figure out a way to do things and we don't worry about what doesn't happen as much as what happens. That was a plane that didn't fly. But once it didn't fly, I'm on to something else. And this is a very good something else."
As for the Sun Bowl, the ACC is contracted through 2013. However, a Sun Bowl spokesperson said Monday afternoon that the league has not finalized any plans beyond this season. The news release, instead, offered this: "The Hyundai Sun Bowl Football Selection Committee is currently under negotiations to bring a quality opponent from a current Bowl Championship Series conference to match up with the Pac-12." Which could either mean the ACC is still trying to finalize the contract, or we could see a new opponent in this bowl game as well.