3 tiers for the B1G bowls: Hip, hip, hooray?

Holiday, Kraft Fight Hunger bowls now in tow for Big Ten beginning in 2014

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IOWA CITY — With the Holiday and Kraft Fight Hunger bowls now officially in tow, the Big Ten plans to create a tiered bowl structure designed to prevent teams from returning to the same bowl multiple times within a six-year cycle.

Beginning with the 2014 season, the Big Ten could have ties with as many as 10 bowl games. Beyond the incoming playoff and major bowls, the league will impose three tiers so teams can avoid back-to-back trips, like Iowa to the Insight Bowl (2010, 2011), and diversify locations (Wisconsin played in Florida bowls six times from 2005-2009). The Big Ten also will have final approval a team's bowl slot.

"Our goal is to have a national slate, broaden the group of opponents and keep it fresh," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Monday. "Clearly there will be some bowls that will select with our approval in advance. But I think you’re going to see a lot of movement by teams among bowls."

The Big Ten now has five official agreements beginning in 2014. The Big Ten and Pac-12 will continue its traditional match-up in the Rose Bowl at least eight times over a 12-year period. The leagues announced Monday they've each reached six-year deals with the Holiday (San Diego) and Kraft Fight Hunger (San Francisco). The Big Ten also will play in the Orange Bowl four times over a 12-year period and agreed to terms for six years with the Pinstripe Bowl (New York City).

Although it's not yet official, the Big Ten is likely to renew deals with the Capital One Bowl (Orlando) and Outback Bowl (Tampa). ESPN reported last month the Big Ten will share a slot with the ACC in the Gator (Jacksonville) and Music City (Nashville) bowls for six years. It's also likely the league will ink deals with bowls in Detroit and in Texas.

"We’re fortunate in that all of these are fantastic destinations," Delany said. "They’re world-class cities with opponents coming from world-class conferences. So we think there are great brands on our side and great brands on their other side and together they produce great bowl match-ups."

The tiered system forces the bowls to select five different Big Ten schools over a six-year period. It also keeps bowls from jumping conference teams based only on reputation and fan base.

"It’s not so much about the teams being in tiers as it is the bowls being in tiers," Delany said. "I’d say there’s probably three tiers if we ended up with nine or 10 bowls. I think that you’ll see some Florida bowls and the Holiday Bowl in the top tier and probably the Pinstripe and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in the middle tier, and the others we haven’t quite figured out."

For the Pac-12, the Holiday Bowl will remain in the same slot — second after the playoff and major bowls — while the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl moves up from sixth overall to fourth. The Pac-12 and Big Ten are historical allies with the Rose Bowl, but that was the leagues' only agreement before collaborating on the Holiday and Kraft Fight Hunger bowl packages.

"We’re happy to deepen the already good relationship we have got with the Big Ten Conference," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "We’ve looked for opportunities to play each other more and couldn’t think of a better way than for two prestigious bowl arrangements on the West Coast."

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