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Details on Big East-Champs Sports Bowl deal

Posted Aug 18, 2009 by Brett McMurphy

Updated Aug 18, 2009 at 04:28 PM

Hello, Champs Sports Bowl. See ya later, Gator Bowl.

That’s in essence what the Big East Conference said today. The Big East announced a four-year deal with the Champs Sports Bowl starting in 2010 that will give the Champs Sports Bowl the second selection from the Big East Conference or Notre Dame. The opponent is expected to be the third- of fourth-selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s like the Super Bowl commercial says, ‘We’re going to Disney World,’ ” Big East commissioner John Marinatto said. “If Disney World is good enough for the Super Bowl, it’s good enough for us.”

The payout for the Big East could reach $2.4 million.

The Champs Sports Bowl will only be able to select Notre Dame instead of a Big East team once during the four-year agreement. For Notre Dame to be selected it must be at least 7-5 and must be within two wins of an eligible Big East team. For example, the Champs Sports Bowl could select 7-5 Notre Dame instead of a 9-3 Big East team, but 7-5 Notre Dame could not selected in place of a 10-2 Big East team.

Earlier this month, Marinatto first told The Tampa Tribune that it was “doubtful” the league would remain with the Gator if the Jacksonville bowl wanted to continue its hybrid model, dividing the Big East’s second selection between the Big East and Big 12 conferences.

However, the Gator Bowl wanted to continue the hybrid model and/or be able to select Notre Dame in two of the four years (instead of once), so the Big East moved on to the Champs Sports Bowl.

“There were certain criteria we were looking at destination, geography and quality of an opponent,” Marinatto said. “We feel like with the Champs Sports Bowl we’ve hit a home run. It was an easy decision to partner with the Champs Sports Bowl.”

The Orlando bowl’s deal with the Big East will run from 2010-13.

The dates for the Champs Sports Bowl will remain Dec. 27, 28 or 29 and the game will have an exclusive window on ESPN, but Marinatto said his league wasn’t concerned losing the New Year’s Day slot it had with the Gator Bowl.

“The idea of playing on New Year’s Day today is so much different than 20 years ago,” Marinatto said. “The idea not playing on New Year’s Day is not a negative for us. At the end of the day, we’ve accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”

This is the final year of college football’s four-year bowl cycle and ironically since the Gator Bowl has selected Big 12 teams the past two seasons, it must select a Big East team or Notre Dame this season.

Marinatto said another bowl announcement from the Big East could come very soon. The Sun Bowl has shared the second selection with the Big East and Big 12, but Marinatto said the Sun Bowl and Big East “have had a terrific relationship.”

Marinatto also said it’s “very possible” Notre Dame would be eligible to be selected by the other Big East bowls, but nothing had been officially determined.

The remainder of the Big East’s bowl lineup for the 2010-13 bowl cycle has not officially been determined, but it is expected to include the Sun (third choice), Meineke Car Care (fourth choice), Papajohns.com (fifth choice) and St. Petersburg (sixth choice).

“We are very excited about gaining another top pick through the Big East and Notre Dame,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said. “If we are successful in signing our other planned selections, it will be tough to argue that Orlando doesn’t deliver the best week of the college football postseason.”

Q/A with Big East commish: The Big East Conference provided a Q/A after our teleconference with Big East commish John Marinatto today about the Big East’s bowl situation.

Q:  Talk about the BIG EAST’s bowl selection process as a whole.  How long ago did it begin?
A:  Every conference is in a similar position as the BIG EAST right now; every four-year cycle usually brings about shifting in relationships between conferences and bowls.  We tried to be ahead of the game, so our process started over a year ago.  As a result, we’re excited to be the first BCS automatic qualifying conference to announce a bowl agreement for the next cycle.

Q:  Why did the BIG EAST decide to move away from its long standing relationship with the Gator Bowl?
A:  The Gator Bowl has been a great partner with the BIG EAST for 16 years, but our coaches and athletic directors were excited about the opportunity to have a new experience for our student-athletes and fans.  In the end, we felt as though the Champs Sports Bowl better fit the criteria we have established for our first bowl opportunity after the BCS (2nd overall).

Q:  Why is it advantageous for the BIG EAST and its members to have a partnership with the Champs Sports Bowl for its first bowl opportunity after the BCS?
A:  It is our goal to put together the best possible bowl line-up we can, and when we evaluate our bowl opportunities, we look at destination, geography and opponent.  The Champs Sports Bowl provides our membership with a desirable place for fans and student-athletes to go, a bowl located in a place that our fans can drive to or get to easily and a game that would be played against a BCS automatic qualifying opponent.  In addition, Orlando, which has been hosting bowl games for over 60 years, is a city rich in bowl tradition.  Our rosters continue to be stocked with players from Florida, and its no secret that Orlando sits in the middle of a recruiting hot bed for college football.

Q:  Is it true that the BIG EAST would not accept a “hybrid” model that currently exists between the BIG EAST, Gator and Sun Bowls?
A:  Yes, it is true.  We feel as though were are in a much better negotiating position now than we were four years ago based on our recent performance and the stability of the conference.  The hybrid structure would allow for Notre Dame to be selected twice in a four-year period in our No. 2 bowl spot.  In our new agreement with the Champs Sports Bowl, Notre Dame can be selected only once during the four-year period.

Q:  Why does the BIG EAST Conference choose to partner with Notre Dame when establishing its bowl deals?
A:  A BIG EAST member in 24 sports, Notre Dame has been and continues to be a great partner for us in football.  The relationship between Notre Dame and the BIG EAST Conference in football works because it is mutually beneficial.  It allows the conference to sign better bowl agreements while at the same time, provides Notre Dame guaranteed bowl tie-ins outside of the BCS that it would not have been able to garner on its own.

Q:  Is it important for the BIG EAST to have a bowl game that’s played on New Year’s Day?
A:  The college football bowl landscape has changed over the last several years.  There are 34 bowl games played over a two-and-a-half week span, with the highest level (BCS) games being played a week after New Year’s Day.  As a result, we feel as though the day of a game has become less important.  Instead, we placed more of an emphasis on destination, geography and opponent.

Q:  What can we expect from the BIG EAST in terms of signing subsequent bowl deals now that the Champs Sports Bowl agreement has been announced?
A:  Most conferences tend to negotiate their partnerships from the top, down.  As a result, we can now focus on the rest of our lineup, which entails discussions with both current partners and new ones.  We will continue to evaluate our opportunities with the same criteria we have with the Champs Sports Bowl.

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