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Old 09-11-2012, 08:31 PM   #1
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Default Big East hoping for Orange Bowl

The Big East makeover won't necessarily end with conference realignment and expansion. The conference hopes to remain relevant by grabbing a spot in the Orange Bowl.

“We're working hard on some access,” said an official who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the talks. “I've been talking to some people regarding the Orange Bowl. I think they're fair-minded people to gain some measure of access. Ultimately, I think we've got a shot to do that.”

For the moment, the Big East has been cut from the herd in terms of staying a power conference beginning in 2014. It does not have a major bowl tie-in. The Orange Bowl is committed to the ACC champion beginning in 2014, but the other spot is open. Notre Dame has been speculated to fill the other spot, but not on a permanent basis. Notre Dame won't qualify each year and wants the freedom to play in other major bowls. (The Fiesta Bowl has two spots open.)

There may end up being multiple partners, then, for the Orange. The Big East champion, Notre Dame and second-place teams from other conferences could be involved.

“We've got some schools close to a playoff spot,” said that source familiar with the Big East situation. “We would like to have some kind of guaranteed access … We're just looking for some way to gain fair access. There could be some different conferences and Notre Dame in the mix. We would hope we could be part of that. The conference as constituted is actually stronger.”

It should be noted that there is no buzz about the Big East from the Orange Bowl, at last check.

“[Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick] told us, ‘If we play well enough we deserve to get in a good bowl game,' said Chuck Neinas who just left as interim Big 12 commissioner. “But they won't be tied into the Orange Bowl, per se. It's going to be an agreement that is going to involve others as well. We have to also wait and see what are going to be the access bowls.”

It's likely that nothing will happen with the major bowls until the Champions Bowl completes its business. Mike Slive told on Monday that the site for the SEC-Big 12 bowl probably will be named in October. After that, the Champions has to hook up with a TV partner. ESPN is that likely partner (surprise). It is widely believed that the Champions will get the same $80 million per year as the Rose Bowl did.

Whatever bowl/city gets the Champions will become the third contract bowl. If that is Dallas, the Sugar Bowl will become open along with the Fiesta Bowl. If the Sugar/New Orleans gets the Champions, that means there will be three openings on the access side. (Six bowls will make up the new playoff rotation.)

The Fiesta is expected to be a lock for one of those spots. Atlanta is expected to be a strong contender as well. Houston, rumored to have made a strong bid for the Champions, could be that third access bowls.

The contract bowls will keep all their revenue in years when they don't “play through” the national semifinals. The access bowls, national semifinals and championship game will be bundled together for bidding as a separate entity.

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