CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the league's athletic directors are trying to strike a balance with their future bowl partners.
They don't want to tell bowl committees which teams they'll be hosting each winter, but they also don't want committees making selections without some clear guidelines in place. There have been too many bad matchups, too many repeat trips, too many empty seats and too many poor TV ratings numbers in recent years.
A shake-up to the process is coming for the next bowl agreement cycle, which will go from 2014-19, but how dramatic will be it be?
"We'll probably be somewhere in between selection and a conference placement," Delany said Wednesday. "So what we'll do is give a lot of conditions to each bowl, and they will have to get conference approval for the selection that they choose. The goal is going to be that we keep these games fresh and also that the bowls create the best possible lineup. I think there's been some fatigue as there's a lot of competition for discretionary spending. I don't think fans are going to be interested in going to the same region over and over and over again."
To prevent this, the Big Ten will require its bowl partners (except the Rose Bowl) to select at least five different teams during the six-year cycle. They'll be afforded only one repeat participant.
The Big Ten looked back at the last 18 bowl seasons, created six-year segments and looked at how the distribution would have worked if certain rules had been in place. The models estimated an average of nine bowl-eligible teams per season with two going to one of the bowls in the Playoff rotation (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A Peach).
If the new policies had been in place, Wisconsin wouldn't have gone to Florida bowls (Capital One, Outback or Champs Sports) in six consecutive seasons, as it did from 2004-09.
"Obviously, you can go to the Rose Bowl as many times as you want," Delany said. "But other than that, we want to get different bowls, different teams into different environments as much as we can and still give them some control over the quality of team they're getting."
Delany said the Big Ten's full bowl agreement should be announced in the next two weeks after the league's presidents see what the ADs are recommending. Other than the tie-ins with the Rose Bowl and, in some years, the Orange Bowl, the Big Ten will have "at least six other relationships, maybe more."
Although Big Ten teams always have appealed to bowls because of their large, traveling fan bases, the league found itself in a stronger position for the upcoming cycle because of its newer members.
"I think our fans and our coaches and our players are in for a good treat," Delany said.