Big Ten football fans like Cotton as next league bowl

May 28, 2009
Although this building won't host the annual Cotton Bowl any longer, many fans want the bowl to select a Big Ten team, according to an online poll.

Although this building won't host the annual Cotton Bowl any longer, many fans want the bowl to select a Big Ten team, according to an online poll.

It’s hardly a scientific poll, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one today online.

On this blog, readers were asked which non-Big Ten bowl would they like added to the Big Ten lineup. Overwhelmingly, readers chose the Cotton Bowl.

Forty-nine percent (213 votes) of the 435 votes cast picked the Dallas-area bowl. San Diego’s Holiday  Bowl finished second with 29 percent (128 votes). Others receiving votes include the Gator Bowl (10 percent) in Jacksonville, Fla., the Atlanta-based Peach Bowl (OK, so it’s called the Chick-fil-A Bowl) with 7 percent and Memphis’ Liberty Bowl (3 percent). The category “Other” also received 3 percent.

The Cotton Bowl has more tradition than any bowl outside of the Bowl Championship Series, crowning a national champion or dislodging the top-ranked team seven times. But it moved to also-ran status in 1995 with the Bowl Coalition and a year later with the break-up of the Southwest Conference. It now hosts the Big 12 runner-up against usually the SEC’s fourth-best team.

Five of the Big Ten’s seven bowl agreements expire after the upcoming football season, including contracts with the Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs and Motor City bowls. The Big Ten has four years left on its contracts with the Rose and Insight bowls.

The Cotton Bowl’s agreements with the SEC and Big 12 expire after the upcoming season as well. It’s unlikely the bowl ever will sever ties with the Big 12. The Big 12 includes four former Southwest Conference schools and the SWC champion anchored the bowl from 1941 through 1996.

The Cotton Bowl would like to rejoin college football’s top-tiered bowl games as a BCS member. The bowl is leaving its long-time venue in Dallas for a $1 billion palace with a retractable roof in Arlington this year. The open-air venue (which saw its share of frigid weather and snowstorms) was one reason why it was left out of the BCS nearly 15 years ago. (The other, some say, is athletic directors like playing golf in Phoenix with no chance of rain/snow rather than crossing their fingers and hoping for the best in Dallas.)

The league has expressed concern with Orlando’s stadium, which hosts the Capital One and Champs bowls. The Citrus Bowl is 73 years old and a $175 million renovation plan has fallen by the wayside during the current recession.

The Capital One Bowl boasts the highest payout of any non-BCS bowl at $4.25 million per team, while the Cotton Bowl pays around $3.3 million. But the Cotton Bowl features tradition and recruiting possibilities. It’s possible if the Cotton Bowl sweetens the pot near Capital One Bowl levels, the Big Ten might jump at moving its second-place team to Dallas against the Big 12’s No. 2 team. Some years, like last year, that might mean Texas Tech vs. Michigan State. Other years, that could pit Michigan vs. Oklahoma.

Coincidentally, only one Big Ten school has played in the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State beat Texas A&M 28-12 on Jan. 1, 1987.Penn State had played in three Cotton Bowls, but each appearance came before the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten.

The Holiday Bowl featured a Big Ten team from 1986 through 1994. Iowa played in three Holiday Bowls in that span, winning two games by a point each (39-38 against San Diego State; 20-19 against Wyoming) and tying Brigham Young 13-13 in the other. Iowa also has played in two Peach Bowls (a 28-22 win against Tennessee in 1982; a 28-23 loss to North Carolina State in 1988) and one Gator Bowl (a 14-6 loss in 1983 to Florida). Iowa never has played in the Liberty Bowl, which last hosted a Big Ten team in 1994. Illinois lost the 1982 Liberty Bowl 21-15 to Alabama featuring legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in his final game.

Iowa nearly played in the 1986 Cotton Bowl, mainly because of then-Coach Hayden Fry’s relationship with bowl officials. Had Iowa lost its final game and not won the Big Ten title, Cotton Bowl officials planned to offer Iowa the slot against Texas A&M. Instead, Iowa beat Minnesota and claimed a Rose Bowl berth. The Cotton Bowl selected Auburn and its Heisman Trophy running back Bo Jackson.


Delany: Big Ten faces geographic disadvantage in bowls

May 18, 2009
Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss (94) forces a fumble against Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (10) in the BCS title game at Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss (94) forces a fumble against Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (10) in the BCS title game at Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Big Ten has lost its last six Bowl Championship Series games by an average score of 17.3 points.

The Big Ten is 6-16 in bowl games over the same three-year period. The league won only one bowl last year in Iowa’s 31-10 thrashing of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has not shied from controversy, especially when it relates to his conference’s bowl record. After a 2-5 bowl showing following the 2006 season, Delany took exception to a story that discussed the league’s lack of talent. He even wrote a letter on the league’s Web site that touted the Big Ten’s strengths against the Southeastern Conference.

When discussing the league’s potential for changing its bowl lineup, Delany said the league is almost at a disadvantage when playing bowl games from a geographic perspective.

“I know that from time to time people say you haven’t won enough bowl games,” he said. “Well, not everybody is playing Pac-10 champ in Pasadena. Not everybody is playing the SEC in Orlando and Orlando (Capital One and Champs) and formerly in Nashville (Music City). Not everybody is playing the Southwest Conference (former Big 12 teams) in Texas and Arizona. So it’s been part of our brand to play the best, and just let the chips fall where they may.”

Delany also said competition remains the key factor, not the final result, in picking bowl locations.

“I think opponents are almost one, and location two,” he said. “While these are away competitive locations, they’re not away in terms of where our alums have chosen to retire. They’re not away in terms of where recruiting advantages lie. They’re not away with regard to where our fans like to spend four or five days. But they are away competitively.

“Our teams are built for September and October and December, but they’re also built for late October and November. I think our teams have very good speed, whether or not they have the best speed that you might see in places where the game is always played in good weather.

“I think that if you look at NFL rosters, half of the NFL is played in cold weather, while the bowl games are not. There’s certainly a case to be made by anybody who’s playing for the Cleveland Browns, the Giants, the Patriots, the Packers, etc., on the value of playing in both weather climates.”

Big Ten officials will discuss the league’s bowl lineup this week in their annual meetings. Five of the league’s bowl contracts expire after the season. Those include the Capital One,  Outback, Champs, Alamo and Motor City bowls. The league has four years remaining on contracts with the Rose and Insight bowls.


Big Ten officials to assess bowl lineup

May 17, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s future bowl lineup could receive a radical — or reserved — makeover this week when league officials, administrators and football coaches conduct their annual meetings.

Five of the league’s seven contracted bowls are up for renewal following the 2009 season. League officials plan to discuss each bowl this week, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the league will “explore the (bowl) landscape.”

“We keep in touch with our incumbents,” Delany said. “We really can’t engage in negotiations with others normally under most of the agreements until we engage in good faith negotiations with the incumbents. We can look around, chit chat, find out if there are others that might be interested, but we can’t engage in any sort of serious discussion on business issues until we go through the process with our own.”

The Big Ten has agreements with the Rose Bowl and the Insight Bowl (Phoenix area) until 2013. Bowls up for renewal after the 2009 season include the Capital One and Champs Sports (Orlando, Fla.), Outback (Tampa, Fla.), Alamo (San Antonio) and Motor City (Detroit). The Big Ten’s champion automatically qualifies for the Bowl Championship Series, which includes the Rose Bowl. The league’s runner-up — if it does not qualify for a second BCS bowl — is designated for the Capital One Bowl. The Outback Bowl receives the third team, followed by either the Alamo Bowl or Champs Sports Bowl, then the Insight and Motor City bowls. Last year’s bowls totaled nearly $35 million in revenue for league schools.

The Big Ten last renegotiated bowl contracts in 2005 when it added the Champs and Insight bowls and dropped the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) and Sun (El Paso, Texas) from its bowl lineup. Delany said at the time the league wanted to add destinations that cater to alumni, many of whom live in Arizona and Florida.

“I have to say we love our alignment,” Delany said. “It’s been good to us. We’ve adjusted from time to time, and even when we’ve adjusted in the past it’s always difficult.

“We never really had a bad bowl relationship. It’s just whether or not find better ones, whether you can improve your lot.”

The Big Ten became one of the first leagues to secure a tie-in for a non-champion when it sent its runner-up to the Holiday Bowl in 1986. The league ended that agreement in 1994, the same year it secured Capital One and Outback bowl agreements. The league began its relationship with the Alamo Bowl one year later.

The league’s contract with the Capital One Bowl earns the league nearly $4.25 million, the top payout among non-BCS bowl games. But Orlando’s 73-year-old stadium’s potential $175 million renovation has stalled, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  The paper reports a slowdown in tourism taxes have placed the project on that community’s back shelf for possibly 10 more years. The Champs Bowl also is played at the same stadium.

“The first thing the commissioners told me was ‘I thought you guys had approved renovation of the stadium. I don’t think you guys realize how important this is for us,'” Florida Citrus Sports chief executive officer Steve Hogan told the paper. ” … I didn’t expect to be shocked as I was about how pointed and concerned our existing sponsors are right now.”

 “We’ve been watching it for a long time,” Delany said. “We’ve been encouraging the city, the bowl, the Florida Citrus Association just to make progress, to move forward, because anybody that follows the college game, whether it’s in urban areas or on campus, facilities have been improving over the last 10, 15, 20 years. We’ve been encouraging that. That will be a factor. How big a factor? It’s to be determined.”

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Iowa under budget at Outback Bowl, loses money on tickets

May 12, 2009
Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa battered South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and won the budget battle, too.

Iowa spent about $1.52 million during its week-long trip to the Tampa, Fla., Outback Bowl in late December and early January. That was about $130,000 under the $1.65 million budget provided by the Big Ten Conference.

“At the end of the day our fans showed up, we won the game, and we came in under budget,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “It was a success all the way around.”

Both Iowa and South Carolina were guaranteed at least 11,000 tickets for the Outback Bowl. Iowa’s athletics department sold more than 20,000 tickets in the Hawkeyes’ last Outback Bowl berth on Jan. 2, 2006 and asked for 15,000 tickets to sell to local fans. But Iowa failed to sell nearly 2,300 tickets, costing the department almost $150,000.

“The last time we went down there, we sold over 20,000, so we scaled back to 15,000,” Barta said. “I think what happened, anecdotally, we heard, that a lot of fans were just going to the bowl site and buying their tickets from there just to make sure they got some. At the end of day, I was focused on the bottom line. And the bottom line was we still came in under budget and that was where we wanted to be.”

Barta and department officials estimate 20,000 Iowa fans attended the game, or nearly 37 percent of the 55,117 in official attendance. Barta had expected fewer fans to attend in part because of the economic slowdown, which is why Iowa chose to sell 5,000 fewer than three years ago.

“You want to take care of your fans so you have to make a decision quickly, how many you’re going to purchase versus how many your fans are going to have to purchase from the bowl,” he said. “We’d prefer to have them all come from here, but we scaled back because we knew the economy would have some effect.”

Iowa earned a $3.3 million payout for participating in the Outback Bowl. That money then was given to the Big Ten, which gives each school participating in a bowl a stipend. The extra bowl revenue then is divided among the 11 Big Ten schools and the league office.

Barta said the school donated extra tickets to local charities in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

“We’ve done everything from contact some kids’ groups, some local groups, some charity groups and tried to move them out that way,” he said.

Iowa spent more than $1.1 million on team and staff travel, including transportation, meals, lodging and tickets. Marching band expenses totaled $328,340 while expenses for university leaders cost more than $50,000.

Here’s a look at the school’s financial summary:

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
 

 

DEPARTMENT OF ATHLETICS  

OUTBACK BOWL  

1/1/2009  

INCOME  

Participant’s Share (per Big Ten Conference policy)  

$1,650,000  

EXPENSES  

Athletics Department (Team and Staff)  

Transportation  

$290,842  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$425,625  

Awards (117 players @ $350)  

$40,950  

Equipment & Supplies  

$20,130  

Tickets (application costs)  

$17,365  

Tickets-Unsold (6 @ $140 + 2,291 @ $65)  

$149,755  

Tickets-Comp (1,277 @ $65)  

$83,005  

Tickets-Comp (69 @ $140)  

$9,660  

Advance Planning Party  

$4,203  

Administrative/Other  

$99,167  

Total Athletics Department Expenses  

$1,140,702  

Marching Band  

Transportation  

$235,310  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$66,725  

Tickets-Comp (346 @ $65)  

$22,490  

Administrative/Other  

$3,815  

Total Marching Band Expenses  

$328,340  

Institution (UI Leadership, PCA,Other)  

Transportation  

$16,375  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$30,323  

Tickets-Comp (29 @ $140)  

$4,060  

Administrative/Other  

$0  

Total Institution Leadership  

$50,758  

Total Expenses  

$1,519,800  

Balance  

$130,200  


Slight adds motivation for Brandon Myers

April 19, 2009
Iowa's Brandon Myers misses a pass during the fourth quarter against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on September 27,  2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa's Brandon Myers misses a pass during the fourth quarter against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on September 27, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Brandon Myers thought he had played himself into the draft discussion.

Good statistics. Started every game for a team that won nine games. Converted three third-down catches into first downs in a bowl game. All-Big Ten selection by the league’s coaches.

But Myers, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end from Prairie City, wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine in February. Initially, it hit him hard that NFL scouts didn’t think he was one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects.

“I thought I had good film from this year,” Myers said. “I thought with our success we had and having Shonn (Greene) and Mitch (King) and everyone was watching, getting first-team all-Big Ten, I thought for sure I’d definitely get a shot.

“I was happy for my teammates that got to go but at same thing, I wanted to go. It definitely made me realize I had to work that much more harder and I have that much more to improve. I wasn’t selected in the top 20 tight ends; obviously I have to pick up my game and get better.

Myers, 23, hauled in 34 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns last year. He earned the Iowa offense’s Coaches Appreciation Award. But neither those statistics or that praise earned him a spot at the NFL Combine.

But that’s not all bad, either. Former Iowa defensive end Aaron Kampman didn’t make the NFL Combine, but he was a fifth-round draft pick. Kampman has played in two Pro Bowls for Green Bay.

“Yeah, that was the first thing Coach (Kirk) Ferentz mentioned to me, which definitely made me feel better,” Myers said. “But obviously I was still disappointed. If things turn out like Aaron Kampman, I’ll be all right with that.”

Myers has gotten some play from NFL scouts and teams within the last month. Scouts from 29 teams watched him and other Hawkeyes compete during pro day in late March. He ran a 4.74 40-yard dash time and had 17 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds.

Myers also has been one of the most active Hawkeyes in taking visits before this weekend’s draft. He’s met with several teams, whose officials conduct interviews similar to those at the combine.

Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads Scouting Services LLC, doesn’t have Myers ranked as a drafted player. But Shonka said Myers has skills that will help get him into a camp and possibly stick with a team.

“He does catch the ball well,” Shonka said. “He screens off blockers. He’s not a big drive blocker for a tight end, which you don’t have to be. You just have to create a little seam where you have somebody run up inside you. He’s that kind of guy.”

Shonka said Myers has an advantage on other tight ends by playing in Iowa’s pro-style offense.

“A lot of them are more like slot guys than tight ends,” Shonka said. “(Myers is) used to blocking in Iowa’s system. That definitely helps him. If he was drafted late, it would not surprise us, but we think probably going to end up being more like a free-agent guy. He’ll have a chance to go to camp and show what he can do.”

That’s just what Myers wants. He and his agents have discussed potential destinations if he doesn’t get drafted. By early April he had visited four NFL teams and several others would like a closer look at a player the teams didn’t interview at the NFL Combine.

“Obviously I’d love to get drafted,” Myers said. “I think taking these visits, it definitely gets my name out there. It’s kind of like the domino effect where one team hears about other teams hear about it and bring me in. I have no idea if I get drafted or where I will be. I just want a shot, just want a chance. It doesn’t really matter where. I just want an opportunity to play.”


Live blog on Tuesday with Big Ten football coaches

April 13, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, left, reaches over to shake hands with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno on Aug. 1, 2006, at the Big Ten Conference football media day in Chicago. Paterno, 81, has won two national titles at Penn State. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, left, reaches over to shake hands with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno on Aug. 1, 2006, at the Big Ten Conference football media day in Chicago. Paterno, 81, has won two national titles at Penn State. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, I will live blog the Big Ten football coaches’ spring teleconference. All 11 coaches will talk about their teams in 20-minute increments.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz will speak at 11:40 a.m.

Here’s the full schedule: 11 a.m. Jim Tressel, Ohio State; 11:10 a.m. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan; 11:20 a.m. Bill Lynch, Indiana; 11:30 a.m. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; 11:40 a.m.; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; 11:50 a.m.; Bret Bielema, Wisconsin; Noon; Ron Zook, Illinois; 12:10 p.m. Danny Hope, Purdue; 12:20 p.m. Joe Paterno, Penn State; 12:30 p.m. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; 12:40 p.m. Tim Brewster, Minnesota.

If you have any questions for the coaches, ship them my way. Here’s the link:

http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090414/SPORTS/904139974/1001/NEWS


Alamo Bowl continues climb to prominence

April 9, 2009
Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates  Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the  Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio.

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

The Alamo Bowl annually picks fourth or fifth among the Big Ten and Big 12’s bowl-eligible teams. But some of those middle-of-the-road school have produced top-tier performances in television viewership and attendance.

In 2006, the Iowa-Texas game posted the best TV ratings of any non-BCS bowl game that season. It was a Saturday night contest and posted a bowl-record 5.99 rating for ESPN, less than 1 full point behind the Orange Bowl that season.

In 2005, the Nebraska-Michigan game also earned the top TV ratings for any non-BCS bowl game in 2005. Both years, the Alamo Bowl blasted past New Year’s Day tradition-rich bowls such as the Cotton, Capital One, Outback and Gator in TV ratings.

The Alamo Bowl now will parlay those impressive ratings into an even better time slot. The Alamo Bowl has joined the New Year’s lineup, playing its game at 7 p.m. Jan. 2, a Saturday. There are five bowl games on Jan. 1 — Outback, Gator, Capital One, Rose and Sugar. Four bowl games are scheduled for Jan. 2 — Cotton, International, Papajohns and Alamo. There’s no BCS bowl scheduled that night, which gives the Alamo the entire spotlight. Only an NFL scheduling curveball could keep the Alamo Bowl from record-breaking ratings.

“This year’s calendar has provided us an excellent primetime Saturday time slot that will allow the Valero Alamo Bowl to reach a wide audience,” said Alamo Bowl President Derrick Fox. “The January 2 date should also work well for people traveling to the game as they can celebrate Christmas at home and then spend a long weekend ringing in the New Year in San Antonio.”

Iowa has played in the bowl four times since its debut in 1993. Iowa has beaten Texas Tech twice (1996, 2001) while losing to California (1993) and Texas in 2006.

The placement appears to be a win-win for the bowl and the participatory leagues in terms of exposure. Past Big Ten schools, such as Northwestern in 2008, looked at the Alamo Bowl as slap. Now, with a primetime slot in January, the Alamo Bowl seems more equal with the Big Ten’s other slotted bowls.

Look for the bowl to push both leagues for marketable teams, both geographically (Big 12 South) and from a national television perspective (say, Wisconsin or Iowa over Northwestern or Purdue). If the bowl can get a high-profile matchup, like in 2005 or 2006, it may be hard to bump the Alamo Bowl from the New Year’s Day lineup.


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