|MAC adds two bowls, looking for more (10-15-13)|
|Written by By JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 15 October 2013 07:20|
In an effort to be proactive and garner additional football bowl game opportunities for its members, the Mid-American Conference has become part of two new bowl games in less than a week.
And Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, the commissioner of the MAC, said during a conference call Monday, that there could be two or more bowl game announcements within the next two weeks. That would allow the MAC to have five priority bowl sites every year during the next bowl cycle. The conference also plans to maintain some secondary bowl matchups, which will also be announced in the near future.
The MAC decided to get into the bowl game business after losing the Little Caesar’s Bowl game in Detroit, and because of the changing landscape of college football.
‘‘We have been averaging six (bowl teams) over the last five years, and it’s not a lot of fun either from my office or more importantly for the coaches, student-athletes, and teams, who have deserving records, to wonder if you’re going to get them placed or not,’’ Steinbrecher said, ‘‘We just decided we are going to be very aggressive and see if we couldn’t develop partnerships with other conferences, other organizations, other cities.’’
The conference’s tie-in to the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla. was announced Friday. It will be played at Florida Atlantic University’s Stadium, which has a seating capacity of just under 30,000.
The Bahamas Bowl was announced Monday. It will be played in Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, the national stadium of the Bahamas, with a seating capacity of approximately 15,000.
No dates have been set for the two new games.
The new games are being supported by the MAC, American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt, Mountain West and Conference USA on a six-year rotating basis.
Steinbrecher said the MAC was looking for games in warmer climates, east of the Mississippi River, and within easy travel distance for the conference teams and their fans.
Currently for the 2014 bowl season, the MAC is affiliated with: the GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile, Ala.; vs. Sun Belt); the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, Idaho; vs. Mountain West); the Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.; vs. Sun Belt); the Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, Fla.; vs. Conference USA); and the Bahamas Bowl (Nassau, Bahamas; vs. American Athletic).
‘‘We now have a series of bowls that we can kind of mix and match with ... Depending on matchups we could maybe move some of the pieces around,’’ Steinbrecher said.
For the Bahamas Bowl, it’s the second time the MAC has gotten involved in a bowl game outside the continental United States. MAC teams played in the International Bowl in Toronto in 2007 and 2008.
‘‘We will be very aggressive in ways we have not done before, in terms of the packaging of the event,’’ Steinbrecher said, adding there would be pre-set packages for the MAC team involved in the Bahamas game.
Dave Clawson, BG’s head football coach, likes the direction the conference is taking in adding bowl games.
‘‘It’s very positive. Last year was a great year, we got seven teams in bowls,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘But the reality of it is, if there weren’t so many teams last year, outside of our conference, that were ineligible to go to bowls, we wouldn’t have gotten seven teams.
‘‘Right now we have three guaranteed games, but there is certainly a chance that a team can win seven or eight games, and not go to a bowl unless another conference falters,’’ Clawson continued. ‘‘We feel great about it as coaches in our league that if you take care of your own product, there is a very good chance you’re going to a bowl; you’re not dependent on other teams in other conferences losing games to open up slots.’’
In selecting the bowl participants, the two teams playing in the MAC championship game will still be protected and receive a bowl berth, Steinbrecher said.
He added that the GoDaddy game has some specific selection requirements in its agreement with the MAC, but that with the games being added now ‘‘we are trying to avoid assigning a specific number to it. What we are hoping to do, working with our other conference partners, and working with the bowl games, is try to facilitate the best matchups in each bowl game.’’
Steinbrecher envisions the rotation of selection spots through bowl games for the MAC teams.
‘‘What’s critical is trying to manage the matchups, so if there are matchups that make sense from a geographical point of view, or simply a quality of matchup point of view, hopefully we have enough flexibility in the system to facilitate it,’’ Steinbrecher said. ‘‘It’s one thing to talk about it, the other thing is to try to manage it and actually pull that off.’’
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