Delany: Big Ten faces geographic disadvantage in bowls

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.


5 Responses to Delany: Big Ten faces geographic disadvantage in bowls

  1. Scott in Arizona says:

    I’m assuming this was a frustrated reaction by Delaney. Unless he has the ability to suddenly create a New Years Day level bowl at Ford Field, there will continue to be a geographic disadvantage.

    Right now, the Big Ten has one of the best if not the best bowl alignment of all the conferences. The losses have been due in part to how good the alignment has been. In the last two years, the conference has admittedly been down. With the bowl alignments, all the teams were probably playing a level of bowl up from where they probably should have been. There would still have been losses, but arguably fewer.

    If you want to try and substitute a Cotton or Gator for Capital One, at least you are swapping new years day bowls. Beyond that, I wouldn’t change much. I love the Holiday Bowl as much as anybody, but the time of the bowl is not great. And, for those who might question how good our bowl alignment is, Holiday, on some random night between Christmas and New Years, takes the SECOND PLACE TEAM in the Pac-10.

  2. Philbin says:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Florida, LSU, Texas, USC, etc, playing at Lambeau or Soldier Field on January 1?

    I would love to see some of those Southern boys freezing their cojones off on the sidelines.

  3. MSUSteve says:

    The issue this year was having 2 big ten teams in the BCS. If only PSU makes it, the Big Ten would have likely gone 6-1 with PSU still losing. However I think OSU would have beat Georgia, MSU would have beat S. Carolina, and so on. I don’t think the geographic locations have anything to do with it.

  4. Jason F. says:

    MSUSteve nailed it. Getting two Big Ten teams into BCS games skews the match-ups for the rest of the Big Ten teams in bowl games (see Rose Bowl, 2007).

    I’m sure Delany sleeps just fine at night knowing that his teams are getting pummeled in bowl games as long as they’re bringing in the heaping piles of cash.

    The geographic excuse is lame. If you can’t win a game in perfect weather (Pasadena, Orlando, pick a dome), what does it matter that you can win in the cold? Now if you want to discuss the balance of fans at these games, that’s a different story.

  5. The Big Ten definitely has the best bowl alignment and I agree with MSUSteve that the competitive issues over the past couple of years have more been that the BCS bowls love taking a second team from the conference (which is a testament to how well our fans travel overall), which readjusts all of the bowl match-ups down the line. As much as I love my hometown of Chicago, I’m a whole lot more interested in traveling to Florida, Arizona, or California to see a bowl game than sitting in near or sub-zero temperatures in order to gain some sort of perceived competitive advantage. I’ll also agree that the geographic excuse is extremely weak – if we get to enjoy the financial and media coverage spoils of playing in the most high profile bowls, then we have to be willing to play against top tier competition in possibly less-than-favorable circumstances (and frankly, with the Big Ten’s traveling fan bases and nationwide locations of alums, this is less of a factor compared to other conferences). If anything, the one bowl that’s in the Big Ten’s footprint, the Motor City Bowl, is the least desirable destination of them all. I’d rather switch that out for another bowl in a warm weather destination (and I’m sure the players would agree with that).

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