New bowl lineup should benefit Big Ten

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Like or not, conferences are judged based on how they perform in postseason play, and the Big Ten has been lacking in that area for most of the decade.

The Big Ten is just 15-28 in bowls since 2003 and endured a 1-6 disaster last year. Given the league's recent performance, I don't blame you if you're not bursting with anticipation for Tuesday's announcement of a new bowl lineup that begins in the 2010 season.

Here's a reason to get excited. The new bowl lineup looks more manageable for the league and should get more teams into the postseason.

Sources close to the negotiations have told me the new lineup, which will be in effect from 2010-14.

So, without further ado, here's the selection order.

1. Rose/BCS vs. Pac-10/BCS

2. Capital One vs. SEC

3. Outback vs. SEC

4 or 5. Gator vs. ACC

4 or 5. Insight vs. Big 12

6. Texas vs. Big 12

7. New bowl in Dallas vs. Big 12 or Conference USA

8. Little Caesar's Pizza vs. MAC

To review the lineup, the top three selections remain the same. The Alamo Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl move out of the rotation. The Insight Bowl moves up in the order from No. 6 and will rotate the fourth and fifth selections with the Gator, a new addition. Both the Texas Bowl and the new game in Dallas, to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium, are also new additions to the lineup. The Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, formerly the Motor City Bowl, moves down a spot in the selection order.

There are several things I like about the new lineup.

  • The Big Ten maintains its ties to the SEC with two games and keeps a third Florida bowl with the Gator. The league still will face the ACC but now in a higher-profile game.

  • I like the Big Ten's chances in the Gator more than I did in the Alamo, where the Big Ten has lost three of its last four appearances.

  • Every Big Ten team recruits Texas, and the league needed a postseason presence in the state. The Texas Bowl and the new game in Dallas increases the presence.

  • New Year's Day didn't mean what it used to in college football, but the Big Ten will be the dominant conference on that day with four games in most years (Gator, Outback, Capital One, Rose).

It will be interesting to see how often the Big Ten actually fills all eight tie-ins. The Big Ten regularly gets two teams in BCS bowls and has sent eight teams to bowls only twice. The league has never had nine teams reach bowls, though 10 squads were eligible in 2007.

The Big Ten undoubtedly needs to pick things up during the bowl season, but no league in the country currently plays a more demanding lineup. Throw in the geographical disadvantages, and the Big Ten really faces an uphill climb.

The new lineup should make things a bit easier.