Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Bad news for the Big East.
The Sun Bowl won't be taking the Big East's No. 3 team after all and instead has decided to sign on with the ACC for that league's No. 5 choice, Brett McMurphy is reporting in the Tampa Tribune.
"At the end of the day it was based on what overall we thought is best for the people of El Paso,” bowl committee chairman John Folmer told the paper. "We haven't seen the ACC in so long, we think it will be good.
"It was a hard decision -- 10 times harder than last time. We've made so many good friends in the Big East. They did everything in their power to make it happen and I think the ACC did also. It was just the matter of how our people felt at the end of the day and we wanted to go in a different direction.”
Obviously, this is a big blow to the Big East's plans. The league just officially agreed with the Champs Sports Bowl yesterday to send its No. 2 team to that game in Orlando, and the idea of taking its No. 3 to the Sun would have represented an upgrade over the previous agreement, in which the No. 2 team went to either the Sun or the Gator.
Now, though, the league could basically be trading the Gator/Sun alliance for the Champs Sports, with its No. 3 team still heading for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The advantage is that the Champs Sports Bowl's Orlando location is more desirable than Jacksonville or El Paso, Texas. And that Notre Dame can only be taken once in four years, not twice as the Gator Bowl wanted.
But there's no doubt that the Gator is a higher-profile game than the Champs Sports, and the Sun has a lot more tradition. While we still don't know the rest of the new bowl lineup, it looks like the Big East will basically come away not much better than it was before if not worse. And considering that the last agreement was made when everybody questioned the new conference format's future, that's not a good sign at all.
I've been traveling all afternoon, but I'll try to find out more about this situation tomorrow morning.