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New Big 12 bowl alignment really warms up in 2014

June 27, 2013
By Jim Elliott - Ogden Newspapers , The Inter-Mountain

You may have missed the news out of New York earlier this week concerning a relatively small piece of college football's postseason.

The Pinstripe Bowl, which earlier this month struck an eight-year agreement with the Big 10, similarly paired itself with the ACC for six years, both beginning in 2014.

The 3-year-old bowl opened with a four-year deal that matched Big East teams against Big 12 teams. This is the last year programs from those leagues will be invited.

The ACC sees this as a positive, given that Syracuse and Pitt are about to join the league as it moves its way northeast. Plus, it's never a bad thing to have a footprint in the largest media market in the land.

The Pinstripe Bowl, similarly, is enthused, because it got away from the Big East (now the American Athletic Conference). That league will be made up of Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville (for one more year), Memphis, Rutgers (for now), SMU, South Florida, Temple and South Florida this fall.

Given that Pinstripe Bowl Executive Director Mark Holtzman said this: "It's amazing just how far this bowl has come in such a short time. We are now one of the premiere bowls in the country," there's little precedent for lower-level programs from a league like that playing in bowls that think that highly of themselves.

This news, of course, hits close to home, too. Mainly because the Big 12's speculative bowl alignment, beginning in 2014, doesn't feature a single city that figures to have temperatures near freezing with snow dropping throughout any of its bowl games.

This was the case when the Mountaineers lost to Syracuse in Yankee Stadium to cap last season.

That's good news for West Virginia, which gets a bulk of its players from warm-weather climates and plays nearly half of its games in the southwest and midwest.

After the 2012 regular-season finale, then-Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith was asked if he had a particular destination in mind for a bowl game.

"Somewhere where it's warm," Smith replied.

Oops.

Outside of the playoff games, which will be played in warm-weather cities, for now (Holtzman thinks the Pinstripe, and its world-renowned venue will be so big, they might play host to a semifinal or eventually a championship game), the remaining bowl destinations will likely include San Antonio, Houston, Orlando, Memphis, Phoenix and the Dallas Metroplex.

The Big 10 did swipe the Holiday Bowl away from the Big 12 on Monday, which took San Diego's perfect year-round temperatures out of the mix in favor of Memphis, which ranges from 35-52 degrees in December.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl is set to replace the Pinstripe on the Big 12's bowl schedule, which drops from the top media market to the fifth-largest, but gains a little in temperature, travel ease, cost-effectiveness for fans, and in theory, competition. The Heart of Dallas' other tie-in is with the Big Ten.

After last year's regular season, the Big 12 had five teams with identical records (7-5). West Virginia dropped to the league's lowest bowl mainly because it was its closest team to New York, and officials figured, as they have long done for postseason events, WVU fans would flock to the Big Apple. Speculation was as long as things were equal (among the team's records) and the Big 12 was affiliated with the Pinstripe, the Mountaineers were bound for Tupperwear each year - the types of bowls you can freeze.

Not anymore.

- Jim Elliott is a sports writer for the Wheeling Intelligencer and News Register. He can be reached via email at jelliott@theintelligencer.net

 
 

 

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