Music City, Gator bowls land deals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
The Music City Bowl and Gator Bowl have joined up to pick a school from the Big Ten Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference as one team in their games in a six-year deal starting in 2014.
The partnership announced Thursday makes the two bowls among the few postseason games linked to multiple conferences and gives them more flexibility to match teams. The deal calls for the ACC to send a team to each site three times during this deal running through 2019.
Both bowls still must complete agreements to provide an opponent. Music City, which began in 1998, has had a deal with the Southeastern Conference that goes through this year.
''We have improved our position as much as any bowl game in the country, and we expect increased economic impact and promotional exposure for Music City over the next six years,'' said Scott Ramsey, president of the Music City Bowl.
The ACC will expand to 15 teams when Louisville joins in July 2014, and the Big Ten will go to 14 in July 2014 with Rutgers and Maryland joining. Notre Dame, which will be a member in all ACC sports except football, will have access to the league's bowl tie-ins starting next year.
On Thursday, the ACC announced six bowl deals that run through the 2019 season. The ACC adds the Capital One Bowl in years when the game needs a replacement because the Big Ten is sending its No. 2 team to the Orange. The Gator Bowl also is back in the ACC's rotation for the first time since 2008, and the league also will continue to send teams to the Russell Athletic, Sun and Belk bowls.
The deals are in addition to the previously announced agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl, and the 12-year tie to the Orange Bowl for the ACC's champion if that game is not part of the playoff — and the Fiesta or Chick-Fil-A if it is. The Russell Athletic Bowl has the first pick of an ACC team after the playoff and Orange Bowl.
The ACC also said additional bowl partnerships for the same time period would be announced soon. The ACC said the packages will include reduced ticket purchase obligations for schools and flexibility in the selection process to avoid repeat appearances as well as regional consideration to improve fan access to the games.
The Music City Bowl has paired teams from the ACC and SEC since 2006, and Vanderbilt beat North Carolina State last December. ACC commissioner John Swofford said the deals will provide better matchups and more money for league teams.
''Nashville and Jacksonville are both quality destinations that provide our teams and fans with a first-class experience both from a venue and hospitality perspective,'' Swofford said.
The Big Ten sent teams to Nashville between 2002 and 2006, and Minnesota was the only Big Ten team to win this bowl, beating Arkansas in 2002 and Alabama in 2004. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said in a statement the league and its fans are excited to return to Nashville.
''Over the last 15 years, this bowl has been successful in creating a memorable trip for student-athletes and fans who travel to the mid-south,'' Delaney said. ''The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, in partnership with the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, is a welcome addition to our national bowl lineup and will provide Big Ten teams and fans a rewarding postseason experience.''