The Cotton Bowl at JerryWorld could become another BCS bowl. Where would a sixth game be? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Stuart Mandel of Sports Illustrated writes this morning that while using the college football bowl games for semifinals is still the leading proposal, campus sites are still under consideration. The leading proposal is to use six bowls, each with a tie to a BCS conference. The top two teams in the playoffs will be assigned to their appropriate bowl based on their tie-ins. (An SEC team would go to the Sugar Bowl, a Pac-12 team to the Rose, etc.) Those two bowls would become the national semi-finals. The next two teams would be assigned to those two bowls, and then after that, the rest of the bowls would be set up around it.
The interesting idea is that there would now be six BCS bowls, all playing on December 31st, January 1st, and January 2nd. In recent years, the bowls have strung out into the first week of January, and have given the NHL traction with their Winter Classic outdoor hockey game. So there is a desire to "reclaim New Years Day". I assume the idea is to play two games on New Years Eve, three on New Years Day, and one on the day after New Years.The idea of six BCS bowls is interesting as well. You have to assume the Cotton Bowl will be one of those, but what will the other game be? Probably the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, but I'm going to think out of the box. Many Big Ten types have talked about needing to get the games into their region. If you are going to elevate a game to the BCS level, shouldn't it be in the northern part of the country?
Here's a wild idea: convert the Motor City Bowl into a BCS bowl game. Indoors, of course, to mollify the faint-hearted souls in SEC country. It creates an interesting duopoly position for the Big Ten. The Big Ten loves their relationship with the Rose Bowl, but it puts the Big Ten at a competitive disadvantage with every other conference who plays at a site that's drivable to some of their fans. It's a two to three day drive for Nebraska fans to drive to Pasadena, and Lincoln is as close to Southern California as it gets.
Here's how it might work: with 12 teams in BCS bowl games, it's almost assured that two Big Ten teams will play in the BCS each season. If the Big Ten champion qualifies as a "host" for a bowl game, it would go to Detroit to play it's bowl game. The Big Ten runner up would then be among the choices for the Rose Bowl. If the Big Ten champion does not qualify for the playoff, it would go to the Rose Bowl...unless the Pac-12 champion is hosting a semifinal game in the Rose Bowl. Essentially, it's a two-bowl strategy for the Pac-12 as well, perhaps tied with the Fiesta.
If the Cotton Bowl becomes a BCS Bowl, the Big XII almost assuredly switches their allegiance from the Fiesta to the Cotton, with a two-bowl strategy between the Fiesta and Cotton. The SEC would also be looking for a two bowl strategy, likely between the Sugar and perhaps the Cotton as well. Or maybe the Orange, since the Orange is most likely to be shut out in the end anyway.
Maybe it wouldn't be the Motor City Bowl; perhaps Indianapolis puts together a proposal to host a bowl game from scratch. All I know is that the game has to be in a championship caliber facility in a city that knows how to host events. And it has to be regionally located to make it convenient for fans to attend. And indoors, for those cold-blooded souls from the South.
I still prefer the campus sites proposal, but anything that puts a national semifinal within driving distance of Nebraska is an improvement over what has been discussed so far.