Illinois hoisted the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl trophy in San Francisco in December, 2011. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 signed six-year agreements that will match their teams in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in Santa Clara beginning in 2014.
For Ohio State and Michigan, their California football dreaming begins and ends with one place.
Yet Rose Bowl or not, chances are the rivals will soon be bowling in the Golden State.
The Big Ten announced on Monday a major westward expansion of its bowl destinations, joining with a century-old partner to bring what commissioner Jim Delany described as a needed “freshness” to the postseason.
The Big Ten and the Pac-12 signed six-year agreements that will match their teams in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in Santa Clara beginning in 2014.
It is part of a massive shake-up that could lead to at least four new Big Ten bowl tie-ins. The conference recently announced an eight-year partnership with the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and appears set to begin anew at Ford Field in Detroit.
ESPN reported last month the Lions are looking to create their own bowl game between the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference starting in 2014. (That would banish the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which matches the eighth Big Ten team or an alternate from the Sun Belt Conference against the Mid-American Conference champion.)
Asked on a conference call about the Big Ten’s talks with Detroit, Delany said, “You’re in the right area.”
Delany said the California bowls will expand the conference’s reach in a state with 300,000 alumni and ensure schools avoid repeated trips to the same area.
While the Pac-12 will slot teams into bowls based on their conference finish, the Big Ten has more flexibility. Instead of a selection order, Delany said the Big Ten will have three tiers of bowls. The Holiday Bowl will get a top-tier team, while a mid-tier team will play in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
“Some [bowls] obviously will select first,” Delany said. “But they may or may not get the team they want because they may or may not have had that team before or that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We’re trying to make sure there’s freshness and the bowl community’s eeeeeeeeeeewell-served.
“When a team goes to, say, Florida five times in six years or you’ve been to the Rose Bowl three years in a row, maybe San Diego or San Francisco aren’t the place to go on your next bowl trip. So while there will be some selection order. It is going to be heavily influenced by freshness.”
The Big Ten looks to continue its partnerships with the Rose, Capital One, Outback, Gator, and Heart of Dallas bowls. The Rose Bowl will become part of the rotation for the four-team playoff in 2014.
The Fight Hunger Bowl, currently played at AT&T Park in San Francisco, will move to the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara in 2014. The Holiday Bowl, which was affiliated with the Big Ten from 1986 to 1994, is at Qualcomm Stadium.
OSU and Michigan have played in the Holiday Bowl twice. The Buckeyes beat BYU — 47-17 in 1982 and 28-21 in 1993. Michigan fell 24-17 to BYU in 1984 and beat Colorado State 24-14 in 1994.
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.