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Big East or ACC? Sun Bowl must decide
Posted Aug 19, 2009 by Brett McMurphy
Updated Aug 19, 2009 at 12:19 AM
Tuesday, the Big East announced it was replacing the Gator Bowl with the Champs Sports Bowl beginning in 2010. Today, the Big East should know where it stands with the Sun Bowl.
The Sun Bowl, which has shared the Big East’s No. 2 pick with the Gator Bowl under the current hybrid format that expires after this season, is in the process of considering between continuing with the Big East or opting for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Sun Bowl must decide between the third-selection from the Big East/Notre Dame or the fifth selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference, which for all intents and purposes, would be the ACC Championship game loser.
Sun Bowl chairman John Folmer said the Sun Bowl is expected to decide today in a meeting with Sun Bowl officials and its television partner, CBS, whether to remain with the Big East or switch to the ACC. The opponent would be the fourth-selection from the Pac-10.
Folmer said the most intriguing part of the Big East deal is – not surprisingly – a chance at getting Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish can only be selected by the Champs Sports Bowl, which gets the second selection from the Big East/Notre Dame, once in the new four-year cycle from 2010-13 and the Big East’s proposed deal with the Sun also is expected to allow the Sun to select Notre Dame, if available.
However, it’s unknown what other restrictions may be in place for the Sun to get Notre Dame. If the Irish win nine or more games, they likely would be unavailable to the Sun as a nine-win Irish team would be eligible (and immediately gobbled up) as an at-large team for a BCS bowl. The first time after the 2009 season that Notre Dame wins seven or eight games, the Champs Sports Bowl likely would select the Irish (as long as there isn’t a Big East team available with at least three more wins than Notre Dame).
“At the end of the day, we’re sitting down and playing poker,” Folmer told The Tampa Tribune Tuesday. “Do we want to take another shot at Notre Dame? Our luck is if we do, Notre Dame will be national champs the next few years (and not available for the Sun).”
Last year, the Sun was so ecstatic over the possibility of landing Notre Dame that bowl officials incorrectly announced to the media that they had a deal in place to select Notre Dame when in fact they weren’t allowed by Big East rules to select 6-6 Notre Dame over a seven-win Big East team.
When the Sun thought it had locked up Notre Dame, Folmer told an El Paso TV station last November “when we went into the arrangement with the Big East, we did it solely so we’d have an opportunity for Notre Dame. Period.”
Earlier this month, Big East commissioner John Marinatto told the Tribune his league would prefer as many BCS conference opponents as possible in its new bowl lineup. And if the Sun stays with the Big East, the Big East would be projected to face BCS opponents in five of their six bowl games during the new cycle.
Here’s a look at the projected Big East bowl lineup for the 2010-13 cycle if the Sun signs on with the Big East (only the BCS and Champs Sports bowls are official):
Champion: BCS bowl vs. BCS qualifier
Second selection: Champs Sports vs. ACC 3rd/4th selection
Third selection: Sun vs. Pac-10 4th selection
Fourth selection: Meineke vs. ACC 6th selection
Fifth selection: Papajohns.com vs. SEC 8th/9th selection
Sixth selection: St. Pete vs. C-USA TBA selection