It's no secret that the Big Ten must start performing better in bowl games after posting a winning record in the postseason just once in the past eight years (2009 - 10 bowls).
The good news: the league has ample opportunities to make a statement on a national stage.
I've long maintained that the Big Ten plays the nation's toughest bowl lineup, especially when you factor in where the games are played. It faces the SEC in Florida, the Big 12 in Texas and the Pac-12 in California.
The Big Ten also plays one of the nation's best bowl lineups. Colleague Ryan McGee on Monday ranked the league's bowl lineup as the second best in college football , behind only the SEC's. While January bowls aren't as exclusive as they used to be and New Year's Day isn't quite as prestigious, the Big Ten's lineup is loaded with challenges and prestigious games.
New Year's Day (this year games will be on Jan. 2) belongs to the Big Ten, with five teams placed in all five games, starting with the TicketCity Bowl at noon ET and rolling right into the Granddaddy of Them All that night. Its first non-New Year's game is a still-attractive trip to Arizona for an Insight Bowl matchup vs. the Big 12. Its lowest rung is the Little Caesar's, located in Detroit, right smack in the center of Big Ten country.
He adds this tidbit:
"I wouldn't be honest with you if I said bowl selection wasn't a factor in our decision to move," a Nebraska athletic official confessed to me during the 2011 College World Series, played the week leading into the Huskers' official date of departure from the Big Ten to the Big 12. "The goal is to win the conference championship and get a BCS game. But only one team is going to do that. So you also need to align yourself with a conference that has you in a good game even if you are one of the teams that come up short of your ultimate goal."
It's a close call between the Big Ten and the SEC for the top bowl lineup, but the SEC likely deserves the nod because of its tie-in with the Cotton Bowl in addition to the Outback and Gator bowls. The Cotton Bowl is loaded with history and tradition. It often competes with the Capital One Bowl for the title of the nation's top non-BCS game.
Is the Big Ten's bowl lineup too taxing? It's a fair question to ask. Delany wants to play the best teams in the biggest games on the biggest stages. If I were commissioner, I'd sprinkle in a matchup against the ACC and add at least one more against the Pac-12. But the current lineup gives the Big Ten the chance to sink or swim.