Big 12 wants minor bowl games fans can drive to

Big 12 wants minor bowl games fans can drive to

Published Apr. 22, 2013 12:13 p.m. ET

(AP) -- The Big 12 wants to have a
greater postseason presence in Florida and get into more bowls that its
fans can reach by car.

As college football gets ready for a
shake-up in its postseason system, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he
would like to have reach agreements with five or six bowl games.

Bowlsby and the other nine major
conference commissioners, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack
Swarbrick, will meet in southern California this week to pick the final
three bowls to be involved in the six-site playoff rotation. Once those
are in place, the conferences can turn their attention to the other
bowls for 2014 and beyond.

The Big 12's current agreements, which
end after this season, do not include a Florida game. Bowlsby said
league officials want to change that, while keeping a strong hold on
Texas and having a destination "out West."


Also, Iowa State's successful trip to
the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., last season - at least in terms of
ticket sales - has the conference considering deals with bowls closer to

"I think that probably did cause us to think about bowls closer to home," 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 Music City Bowl in Nashville.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference was not discussing details of its plans publicly.

The Liberty Bowl's current agreements
are with the Southeastern Conference, Conference USA and the Big East.
C-USA and the Big East, which will change its name to the American
Athletic Conference next season, have been drastically altered by
realignment. Seven C-USA teams will join the American over the next two

Last year, the SEC did not have
enough bowl eligible teams to fill the Liberty Bowl slot and game
organizers struck a deal with Iowa State. Cylcones fans gobbled up
tickets and about 25,000 showed up to watch their team lose to Tulsa.
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.

The Music City Bowl's current agreements are with the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference.

The addition of West Virginia to the
Big 12 last year has in part led the conference to turn its attention to
the talent-rich southeast part of the country, especially Florida.

The Big 12's current bowl lineup
includes: the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio; the Holiday Bowl in San Diego;
Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston; the Pinstripe Bowl in New York; the
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.; and the Cotton Bowl in
Arlington, Texas.

Bowlsby said the conference expects
to often have its champion in the final four when the playoff starts,
plus send another highly rated team to one of the four other marquee
bowl games. The Cotton Bowl is expected to be part of the playoff bowl

The Big 12 is unlikely to keep its
affiliation with the Yankee Stadium game and there has been speculation
the Holiday Bowl could switch to a Big Ten affiliation with that
conference interested in playing more postseason games in California.

"We've had a 16-year partnership with
the Big 12 and it's been a great relationship," Holiday Bowl executive
director Bruce Binkowski said. "We are right now looking at all of our
options moving forward. There's interest in the Big Ten, interest in the
Big 12. We're looking at all options to make this the best bowl game
that we can."

The top Florida games beyond the
Orange Bowl - the Outback Bowl in Tampa and the Capital One Bowl in
Orlando - have SEC-Big Ten matchups. Orlando also hosts the Russell
Athletic Bowl earlier in the bowl season. That has tie-ins with the Big
East and the ACC.

While the SEC seems likely to keep
its flag planted in Florida, and the Big Ten isn't about to vacate the
Sunshine State altogether, there could be a spot for the Big 12.

Bowlsby wasn't about to speculate.

"Everybody is kind of holding their cards close to the vest right now," he said.