Bowl Lineup Set To Expand To 39
The seismic shift occurring in major college football already is settling, but the tectonic plates still are undergoing aftershocks.
The total number of bowl games is expected to increase to 39 in 2014.
One of the outcomes of the end of the BCS, the transition to a four-team playoff and conference realignment is that many of the so-called smaller conferences lost some of their bowl ties. In response, the remaining conferences are banding together to create three new bowl games with a unique twist: The leagues are expected to work together to select the teams as part of a "coalition," ESPN reports.
For example, Ford Field and the Detroit Lions created the Ford Field Bowl starting in 2014, which will pit a team from the Big Ten and ACC. That effectively jettisoned the Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl (formerly the Motor City Bowl), which matched up Big Ten and MAC opponents.
At least 20 bowl games starting in 2014 will be exclusive to the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12.
The Bahamas Bowl (Nassau, Bahamas) is expected to become official at a press conference Oct. 14. It will become the first postseason game outside the U.S. since the International Bowl (Toronto, 2007-10). Conference USA and the MAC are expected to be primary participants, CBS reported, but the American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt also are expected to rotate through the game.
The Miami Bowl, to be held at Marlins Park, will feature an American Athletic team against an opponent from one of the other four smaller conferences.
Another new bowl in Boca Raton, Fla., held on the Florida Atlantic campus, will feature Conference USA, MAC and American Athletic teams.
Reports indicate the smaller conferences formed these games and a loose coalition to ensure themselves bowl ties and bypass the current finger-crossing in which they hope one of the major conferences doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill its obligations. Even then, it leads to a subjective, and in the eyes of the conferences, unfair selection of a replacement team.
"The non-power leagues were denied opportunities in other bowls, so they had to create opportunities for their teams," an unnamed source told ESPN.com. "The old days for one conference to have a deal are dead. It will be very fluid."
The 39 games include the College Football Playoff final game to determine a national champion.
The NCAA in 2012 put in contingency plans allowing for teams with losing records to participate, which we may see. There were 72 bowl-eligible teams in 2011 under the previous, stricter rules, two of which were ineligible due to NCAA probation, leaving 70 teams for the 35 games.