If the Gophers can remain bowl eligible in coming seasons, potential new destinations could include New York for the Pinstripe Bowl, San Diego for the Holiday Bowl and San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
This piece from Stewart Mandel on SI.com taught me a lot about how the bowl system could change after next season, when the BCS contract expires, along with all the other contracts for bowls.
TV ratings have been solid, even for lower-tier bowls, but attendance is sagging. The most glaring example was the Sugar Bowl between then-No. 3 Florida and Louisville, which drew 54,178, the event’s lowest attendance since 1939.
Some bowls become more intriguing than expected and become a hot ticket (see the Cotton Bowl matchup between Oklahoma and Texas A&M). Other bowls linger as consolation prizes for disappointed fan bases, leaving schools way overmatched trying to fill ticket allotments.
As Mandel writes, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany “wants the conference bowl lineup to become ‘more national’ than its current glut of Florida games; he wants to keep fans from becoming fatigued by repeat trips to the same destination." So Delany believes it's time to get more creative.
The Big Ten is expected to sign on with the Pinstripe Bowl, as it looks to strengthen its eastern footprint after adding Rutgers and Maryland. And a source tells Mandel that over a six-year term, the Big Ten and Big 12 could share spots in the Holiday Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, with each conference taking three trips over the six years.
I’m not sure where those bowls would rank in the Big Ten’s new pecking order, but it sounds like we could have an idea by this April.