One thing that fans of every school in the SEC enjoy are bowl trips. Nothing better than getting together with friends or family and watching your team play a nontraditional game around the holiday season. The game may be the sole reason for the trip but trying new restaurants, the night life, and activities creates excitement within a fan base. The top tier SEC bowls such as the Sugar, Capital 1, Outback, and Chik-Fil-A are all in great towns and give fans truly great experiences. When you look at the bottom 2 SEC bowl tie ins,it leaves more to be desired.
In a new article by John Solomon for Al.com he talk about the Birmingham Bowl losing its lead sponsor, “The decision leaves Birmingham’s 7-year-old bowl without a title sponsor on the eve of negotiations in the coming months for future conference tie-ins. The bowl’s four-year deals with the SEC and Big East expire after the 2013 season.” That announcement leaves the SEC with a possibility of losing a game that they shouldn’t want in the first place. It may be time for the SEC to flex some muscle and get the fans some new venues.
There is 1 other bowl game that has SEC ties that I think the SEC should get rid of and that’s the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. These 2 bowls (Indy and B’Ham) aren’t great draws and simply don’t get a fan base excited to travel. I’m sure many disagree that the bowl game is first and foremost a reward for the players. While I agree with that in spirit, the bowls are driven by money and fans buying the tickets and traveling are what supply that money. I think the SEC needs to better reward its fans.
According to John Pennington, “The SEC’s current bowl contracts all expire after the 2013 season and new many new questions will be answered at that time.” What that tells me is that the SEC has 1 year to prepare to flex its muscle and make better moves. That is plenty of time for back channel negotiations to take place and better sponsorship dollars get lined up for what may be considered a lesser bowl now, but add an SEC team and the profile immediately skyrockets even if it’s a 9th or 10th SEC tie in.
Before I go in to which new bowls that I would like to be added, I would like to say that I fully support the Liberty Bowl staying as 1 of the lower bowls. First, the location is pretty close for most SEC schools making it a doable trip for the average income fan. Second is that Memphis is a pretty cool town. There is plenty of really good food and Beale Street is a pretty cool place for fans to congregate before and after the games.
Let’s take a look at some bowls that I think would be much better for the fans and the conference if they were to replace the Birmingham and Independence Bowls.
1) R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl- This one to me is a no brainer and that is why I list it first. It currently has CUSA vs Sun Belt ties. The CUSA is in disarray and should be easy to get rid of if the SEC wants in. I love the matchup between 1 of the top Sun Belt schools and a lower level SEC school because we are from the same region and have a certain familiarity with one another. New Orleans is an awesome town to visit and would be an easy sell to any SEC fan base. It would also lead to a SEC takeover of New Orleans of sorts with the Sugar Bowl being played about a week later.
2)Beef O’Brady Bowl- This is another one that seems to make sense. It’s located in St. Petersburg, Florida. That means there are odds for good weather and its and great trip for the fans because there is so much to do in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area. They currently have a CUSA vs. Big East matchup. The SEC has already had Big East matchups like in the B’Ham bowl, so why not keep the matchup but improve the venue by 100?
3) Valero Alamo Bowl- This one has a certain level of intrigue to me. After adding Texas A&M and getting into the Texas market, a bowl in Texas seems to make sense as Solomon said in his article. San Antonio is a long way from most SEC schools so location is a concern for the average income fan. This bowl does have nice prestige and payouts already though. Perhaps the most intriguing thing to me is the current Big 12 vs. Pac 12 matchup. The SEC currently has 0 bowl matchups with the Pac 12 unless it’s in a BCS game. I think that could potentially be a cool thing and could be a good home for either a SEC West squad or a well traveling East squad like UGA.
4) GoDaddy.com Bowl- I’m sure many are reading this thinking I have lost it. The current matchup is MAC vs. Sun Belt and I don’t really think it matters which one got tossed in favor for the SEC but I’d like to see the Sun Belt stay. The biggest issue is that Ladd Peebles is a dump with terrible parking. The part that makes me like this idea as perhaps the last SEC tie in is because it’s in Mobile. A very underrated town with great restaurants and seafood, plus Daulphin Street is a great place for fans to go before or after the game. The close proximity to Gulf Shores may also attract families to get a condo on the beach for the weekend and catch the game. A lot of possibilities here. I have been to a Mobile Bowl before (2005 USM vs. Ohio) and it was actually a blast.
5) Belk Bowl– This last pick is my wildcard. This game is in Charlotte, North Carolina and currently has an ACC vs. Big East matchup. It’s already a nice bowl with good sponsors and payout. North Carolina isn’t too far for most SEC fans. I think anyone who has ever been to Charlotte can tell you at length that it is a really cool city. I think it’s a great trip for the fans and regardless of what current tie in would be kept we would get a very good nontraditional matchup. Adding a game like this could also push the SEC footprint that much closer to the North East.
List of all bowls http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa/college-football-bowl-schedule.php