The college football bowl schedule was released this week. ESPN's Kevin Gemmel laid out the Pac-12's portion of the schedule and nothing has changed:
- Dec. 21, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, 2 p.m. Pac-12 vs. MWC
- Dec. 21, Las Vegas Bowl, 3:30 p.m. Pac-12 vs. MWC.
- Dec. 27, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, 9:30 p.m. Pac-12 vs. BYU (if bowl eligible)
- Dec. 30, Valero Alamo Bowl, 6:45 p.m. Pac-12 vs. Big 12
- Dec. 30, Holiday Bowl, 10:15 p.m. Pac-12 vs. Big 12
- Dec. 31, Hyundai Sun Bowl, 2 p.m., Pac-12 vs. ACC
- Jan. 1, Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, 5 p.m.
- Jan. 6, VIZIO BCS National Championship (at the Rose Bowl), 8:30 p.m., BCS 1 vs. BCS 2,
Except for the Rose Bowl, do any of these excite Pac-12 fans? That's an honest question and the league's fans should be honest with their answers.
The Pac-12 has bowl tie-ins to the Mountain West, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12 and the Big 10. While the MWC has had some very competitive teams in the past, the losses of BYU, TCU and Utah has reduced its potency. Yet the Pac-12 still has two bowl contracts with the conference.
The ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten bowl contracts are fine. There is no need to retool those. But one bowl needs a makeover.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl appears to have lost its identity. Since 2002 the bowl's name has changed from the San Francisco Bowl to the Emerald Bowl to its current name. The match-ups have also changed.
It used to be an ACC vs MWC bowl. In 2006, it was changed to the Pac-10 vs the ACC. Then things got strange.
Nevada (WAC) played Boston College (ACC) in the 2010 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The next year it was Illinois (Big Ten) vs UCLA (Pac-12). Last year it was Arizona State (Pac-12) vs Navy (Independent). This year it has scheduled the Pac-12 vs BYU (Independent). The MAC is also an available alternate.
Anyone else confused?
Four different conferences and two independent teams have played in that bowl since 2002. It is a mish-mash of conference teams and independents.
This is not the bowl's fault. The problem is that it is contracted to take the Pac-12's sixth-place team. If a Pac-12 team isn't bowl eligible—and that happened twice, in 2004 and '05—then the alternates play instead.
This bowl has a $1 million payout to the Pac-12 and is played in beautiful San Francisco. It is obviously a win-win for the league. But it should have scheduled better.
How much more interest would this bowl garner if it featured the Pac-12 vs the SEC ? The SEC would be a hard sell because their teams prefer staying close to home in the postseason.
Had the SEC and Pac-12 agreed to a contract with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year, we would have seen Arizona State vs Vanderbilt instead of Arizona State vs Navy.
Say hello to an instant upgrade.
The Pac-12 may be an elite conference, but it is not playing the big boys in three of its bowls. Not only does fan interest wane in lower-tiered bowls, but player interest wanes as well. The quick fix is scheduling a big boy conference.
Every major conference has a bowl tie-in with the SEC except one.
That needs to change if Commissioner Larry Scott wants to improve the Pac-12's image.