- Brett McMurphy, College football reporter
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The Big 12 Conference has had discussions with the Russell Athletic Bowl about a Big 12 team playing in the Orlando, Fla., game beginning in 2014, sources told ESPN.
The Russell Athletic Bowl recently completed the third year of a four-year deal pitting teams from the ACC and Big East conferences. The bowl contracts expire after the 2013 regular season, and the Big 12 would replace the Big East beginning in 2014 at the start of the next bowl cycle.
The bowl is talking to the Big 12 because the league wants a Florida bowl, and the Big East lineup is weakened by the past or future defections of West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Rutgers.
At the Big 12 meetings in Irving, Texas, in January, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said adding bowl games in Florida was a priority.
"California, Florida and Texas comprise more recruits than the whole rest of the country combined," Bowlsby said two months ago. "That's been a shortcoming of our bowl lineup in the past, and we need to fix it if we can."
At the meetings, Bowlsby said the Big 12 also had discussions with the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
None of the Big 12's current seven bowl tie-ins, which expire after this season, is in Florida.
The bowl would keep its ACC tie-in. Since the bowl moved from Miami to Orlando in 2001, the bowl has had an ACC team in the game the past 12 seasons.
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