Some new, some old, but the bowl championship series is changing some bowls next season.
SEC’s Bowl Tie Ins are Shaping Up
By: Larry Burton
Next year is the first year of the new college playoffs and many feared it would cause major changes in the present bowl system as well as which teams are tied to each bowl.
What’s new? SEC teams now are pared against only the other “Big” conferences. There will be no matchups with high ranked Sunbelt Conference or other “Minor” conferences.
With things pretty much ironed out, it looks like this is how things will shape up next year:
SUGAR BOWL: NEW ORLEANS, LA.
Provided the SEC Champion isn’t in the playoffs, though that’s a slim chance, the champion will go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans as usual. If the conference champion is a player in the championship bowl series, one of four teams that are, then the next highest rated SEC not in the championship bowl series will represent the SEC in the Sugar Bowl.
As for the opponent, there is not now, nor will there be another conference tie in on an ongoing basis, the opponent will be the highest ranked opponent the Sugar Bowl committee can land from the teams not competing in the championship bowl series.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL GAME : ORLANDO, FL.
Will continue to be the highest ranked SEC team not in the championship bowl series or Sugar Bowl against the highest ranked Big Ten member not in the CBS or the Rose Bowl.
BELK BOWL: CHARLOTTE, NC.
Will pit the fourth or fifth ranked SEC team against a similar ranked ACC team.
TAX SLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL: JACKSONVILLE, FL.
This old bowl game, so dear to SEC fans for decades, will continue to pit the SEC against the Big Ten most years, but if a higher ranking ACC team is available, then they could be picked. This bowl is one of the oldest bowls out there and was the infamous bowl where Woodie Hayes punched an opposing player.
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL: MEMPHIS, TN.
This too is an old SEC venue, the site of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last game. Once again it is a spot for the SEC to face off with the Big 12 after hosting lots of teams from various conferences over the last several years.
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MUTUAL MUSIC CITY BOWL: NASHVILLE, TN.
Another bowl where the SEC locks in a team and the opponent will either be an ACC or Big Ten team, whichever is rated higher or accepts the bid.
OUTBACK BOWL: TAMPA, FL.
This is yet another SEC – Big Ten matchup. Given the popular public perception that the SEC owns the Big Ten, you wouldn’t think that that the boys from up North would be so eager to schedule so many bowl games against the SEC, but in these lower tier bowls, they’ve held their own quite nicely.
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS: HOUSTON, TX.
This could be the bottom of the bowl game barrel for the SEC and Big 12 teams that will play in this game. This used to be Big 12 – Big 10 game.
This is akin to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. where the bottom SEC played. Since the SEC no longer plays in that bowl, Nick Saban’s statement that “We’re never coming back here as long as I’m coach here appears to be true. That was a quote given to me by an Alabama player describing the cold, rainy day that Nick Saban took his first Alabama team to a bowl game.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter