A B1G Bowl Problem

By Chad Peltier on January 29, 2013 at 5:00p

The Big Ten is looking to change its automatic bowl tie-ins with the introduction of the playoff system in 2014. 

Who needs to call offensive face mask penalties? The Big Ten needs less of this during bowl season

It's clear that something needed to change – a 2-5 conference record simply should not be considered a successful bowl season. 

Critics will argue that the Big Ten simply cannot hope to compete in matchups with the SEC teams that the B1G is usually matched up with. ESPN's Big Ten blogger, Adam Rittenberg, argues:

... a .500 bowl record for the Big Ten equates to a .750 bowl record in most conferences when you factor in the game sites and the opponents. The Big Ten has won just one Rose Bowl since the 1999 season.

...and that one Rose Bowl win was by Ohio State. 

There is no way that this season's Purdue-Oklahoma State matchup was anything close to parity.

While the Buckeyes will look to be in the playoff picture each year of the Meyer tenure, increased flexibility for bowl matchups will certainly help the lower-tiered B1G teams. 

The problem isn't just that Big Ten teams are often overmatched – fans and players are tired of traveling to the same locations: 

Right now, the Big Ten's bowl lineup contains heavy doses of SEC, Big 12, Florida, Texas and Jan. 1. The selection order is fairly rigid. As a result, we've seen teams go to the same bowl in consecutive seasons (i.e. Nebraska at the Capital One in 2012 and 2013) or to the same state for a number of years.

Can you believe the Buckeyes went to Arizona four times, three of which were Fiesta Bowls, in five years? 

"I used the term bowl fatigue," Ohio State AD Gene Smith told ESPN.com. "When you go back to the same place multiple times … the novelty is lost."

Is that a lightsaber?Thank you, Northwestern and Michigan State

I'm sorry, but I find it hard to imagine Wisconsin fans are complaining too much about simply getting out of frigid Wisconsin to go to Florida in January of each year. 

Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips agrees: 

"It's been documented that repeat institutions and repeat bowls and repeat matchups is not a recipe for success. People want fresh and new and exciting matchups. Any way we can do that with those bowl tie-ins, I would be in complete favor of that."

Instead, I think fans and players are tired of just losing the same bowl matchups year in and year out. Don't get me wrong – I'm entirely in favor of increased flexibility and the potential for conference collaboration and "sharing" bowl spots:  

Delany has mentioned the possibility of collaborating with other leagues on bowl tie-ins, essentially sharing the spots depending on the year and the attractiveness of the matchup.

But I don't think it's simply "bowl fatigue" that is driving this change. Instead, the Big Ten is simply, and rightfully, tired of losing too much. 

Contrary to what you might read, Jim Delany is not a dumb man. He knows that the current Big Ten has fallen behind the SEC and maybe the Big 12 and Pac-12 as well. Increased flexibility for bowl matchups is just one piece of the puzzle for a renewed Big Ten, fitting in nicely with increased conference revenue, better head coaches, and more money for assistant coaches and recruiting coordinators. 

However, Delany might end up benefiting most from something he ultimately couldn't strategize – Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke. Even if (when) Urban defeats Hoke every single year that they both compete in the Big Ten, a strong Ohio State and Michigan are exactly what the Big Ten needs. 

Meyer and Hoke are already outclassing the rest of the Big Ten in recruiting. A dominant, Alabama-challenging Ohio State is exactly what Delany needs to renew the perception of the Big Ten. When Ohio State and Michigan are good, the rest of the Big Ten will benefit. 


Comments Show All Comments

Mi.Buckeye's picture

How much fun will it be to beat TSUN the last game of the season and in the B1G championship in one year? HaHaHa... Can't wait!

Ronrico86's picture

or how about having ohio and tsun in the same division, that way one team can be undefeated while the other have 1 loss and both make the playoffs and battle for the championship?

buckeye4life050233's picture

I would love to see a national title game in say Indianapolis (Lucas Oil) or Detroit (Ford Field) with a Big 10 team having a huge advantage.  Granted at that time in the year it is normally cold and nasty up here it still evens out the competative advantage say LSU, Florida, and Bama have when they make the NC game.  Imagine the NC with notre dame in indianapolis, that place would be 90% gold and green just like osu was out in Tempe vs Miami (FL) in 02'

buckeyedude's picture

Super Bowl XL was played at Ford Field on February 5, 2006. There is no reason that a NC game can't be played in Indianapolis or Detroit, IMHO.



albinomosquito's picture

Even last year...  The Super Bowl was in Indy and it turned out great.  That town puts on a hell of a party too.  You don't need a warm weather vacation destination to have fun.  And if the main reason for the vacation is to watch football, why not do it in the midwest?
I agree 100%..  We have some nice stadiums up here.  Let's show the midwest some love.  You would think the Indiana/Michigan/Minnesota/insert midwest state here tourism boards would be pushing for some exposure in a bowl game on our home turf...

Doc's picture

Playing in the SEC's, or Pac12's back yards is a disadvantage as well.  USC drives five minutes to get there when we fly for 5 hours.  Having a true neutral site arena would be nice.  If Bama and ND are playing in the MNC game then the game should be played in Pasadena.  If Bama is playing USc then the game should be in Dallas or Tempe.  Make is as equal travel distance climate change as possible giving both teams an even playing field.  SEC teams playing in SEC country is wrong.  Just like Pac12 teams playing in Pac12 country is wrong.  Now, if they want to go to on campus sites for the higher ranked team in a playoff that is a "to the victor goes the spoils" type thing.  But bowl games shouldn't be so one sided.

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BME_Buckeye's picture

Great write up Chad Pietler but could you give us some insight on a potential solution you could remedy for the problem? 
I think one thing that could be done is mixing up the of teams the B1G plays meaning play more teams from other conferences. Just in this one year we had matchups against 
1 Pac 12 team 
3 SEC teams
3 Big 12 teams 
I would recommend changing that number and playing at least one ACC team and another Pac 12 team. I like the Pac 12 vs. B1G match ups a lot more and I think it might be a good idea to host that game in Indy since the Rose Bowl is out west. Lastly, I'm in favor of keeping the B1G vs. Mac game so that when upcoming teams like Indiana play in the post season their isn't a huge tilt in talent for one team.
As for changing the locations, you're pretty much stuck with what you have. Unless you move to playing games in venues with retractable roofs there isn't much you can do about this. 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


Hovenaut's picture

Too many bowls as it is. When more teams go, more teams lose.

I'm sure tweaks are forthcoming, but the B1G is too big to be limited based on recent performances.

What goes up must come down, and vice-versa in college football.

Brutus Greyshield's picture

Weren't most of this year's mismatches simply the result of Ohio State and Penn State not being eligible for bowl games. If all the B1G teams were eligible, then the bowl pairings would have been much more even. We sent a team that was 4-4 in conference to the Rose Bowl.
As I see it, Ohio State would have gone to the title game. Nebraska would have still finished the season 10-3 and miss out on a BCS bowl. So the Capital One, Outback, and Gator would have probably been the same, but Penn State would have pushed everyone else down a notch taking the BW3 Bowl and Wisconsin would have pushed the remaining teams down another spot by taking the Car Care Bowl.

The middle and bottom would have looked like this:

BW3: Penn State vs TCU
Meineke Car Care: Wisconsin vs Texas Tech
Heart of Dallas: Michigan St vs Oklahoma State
That's a fair schedule. 

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

Great point!
*muttering* ...stupid ncaa sanctions...now Urbz has to go 25-0 just to play in a single bcs title game.

703Buckeye's picture

With the recent eastward expansion, I have a feeling the Pinstripe Bowl will be in the B1G's future. I actually like the idea of playing in the NYC area; it will provide a new venue for B1G fans, an unique venue and plenty of attractions to visit outside the bowl. Not to mention the game will probably come against a less formidable ACC or Big East team.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Flex scheduling...
have a tie for a conference then let the team who qualifies pick/call out it's opponent from a pool of teams.

gravey's picture

The teams that travel well (B1G) and draw big TV ratings (B1G) generally draw a better squad in bowl matchups...it's always that way, and then because of the weather and the tourism-orientation of the games, they often amount to a home game for west coast and southern teams. 
Given those issues, we still do pretty well....and don't oversign.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Right now, the Big Ten's bowl lineup contains heavy doses of SEC, Big 12, Florida, Texas and Jan. 1. The selection order is fairly rigid.

Yeah, but those criteria all by themselves account for the majority of bowls. The reason fans are getting tired of going to the same old sites is that there are so many bowls now, meaning that any program strong enough to schedule 3 nonconference gimmes in September is practically guaranteed a bowl berth unless they're truly terrible (and in some cases, like Purdue this past year, you can be legitimately terrible and still get a bid).
B1G schools are popular bowl invitees because the size of their alumni bases ensures a certain attendance figure, even accounting for fan fatigue. Unless bowls start disappearing (which will affect our mediocre teams more than in any other conference), or unless the conference bigwigs start lobbying to be put into inferior, less lucrative bowls, I don't see how this situation is going to change.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

JeffCoBuck's picture

A little late to this column, but I hate the bowl tie-ins.  I liked it better when the bowls went after whomever they wanted.  With these tie-ins, there are some potentially good bowl matchups that can never occur because each conference is locked in all the time.  The sooner they get rid of tie-ins, the better.