Jim Delany hinted today that the Pinstripe Bowl could be a future bowl destination for the Big Ten. The Pinstripe Bowl, held in New York at Yankee Stadium, is currently tied to the Big East and Big 12.
That deal's in place through the 2013 season. Coincidentally, all of the Big Ten's bowl contracts are up after the 2013 season too. I do believe it's time for a makeover. Here are the moves the Big Ten needs to make going forward.
Sign On with the Pinstripe Bowl
Leaving all bowl strategies and the "big picture" aside, New York is a very cool place to go. Is it a college football mecca? No, but it doesn't have to be for a one-off bowl game of little importance. It's a vacation destination, and that's what you want out of bowl games.
Stop Sending All Your Best Teams into Enemy Territory
Telling the Big Ten to stop sending its champion to California is like telling a four-year-old to spit on mommy, but there's no "tradition" argument to be made for the Big Ten's tie-ins with the Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl and Gator Bowl. All three of those bowls are in Florida, and all three are against the SEC.
That's a situation the Big Ten cannot, in good conscience, continue. Would the SEC ever in a million years agree to sending its top three non-BCS teams to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, all to face the Big Ten in bowls?
Get More Bowls in Big Ten Country
It's worth noting that there is precisely one bowl in the Big Ten footprint: the Little Caesar's Bowl, an execrable bowl sponsored by an execrable brand of pizza. The Big Ten can't just sit back and say, "well, no bowls up here, oh well."
Last we checked, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany writes his own rules, and it would be astonishing if the Big Ten couldn't figure out some way to get a bowl destination in a city like St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Duluth...well, maybe not Duluth.
ESPN created a litany of small-time bowls that it could own, operate and televise in mid-December. That was a smart decision. So why not buy the rights to a few of those bowls (like, say, the Bell Helicopter Bowl) with some of that Big Ten television money, ship the game up to a Midwest city, tie in, say, the Big Ten's fourth-best team, and see what conference will take it? Oh, and also, make sure the college football world knows about this, so if and when the SEC chickens out, it won't be private.
Of course, all these moves are being suggested while the Big Ten is getting crushed in high-profile bowls on basically an annual basis. No amount of finagling or bowl deal-making can make up for an inferior product, and the Big Ten needs to not lose sight of that fact. But, it would at least help the conference's case if the games by which it's judged aren't stacked against it in the first place.