|MAC looking for more bowl game tie-ins (7-23-13)|
|Written by By JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 23 July 2013 16:04|
DETROIT — The Mid-American Conference is actively pursuing more guaranteed football bowl berths for its members.
Also the conference will be part of the College Football Playoff which goes into effect for the 2014-15 season.
The MAC was able to put teams in seven bowl games last season, including Bowling Green’s appearance against San Jose State in the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C.
However, the conference is losing the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which is played at Ford Field.
The Big Ten and Ford Field have announced a six-year agreement for a game to start in 2014. The Atlantic Coast Conference will provide the other team for the game.
The Little Caesars Bowl game started in the Detroit area as the Motor City Bowl and was played at the Pontiac Silverdome beginning in 1997. The game was moved to Ford Field after the 2001 game. The sponsorship changed to the Little Caesars Bowl in 2009.
Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, the MAC commissioner, said it was not a surprise that the Little Caesars Bowl would not be played after this season. He also said playing a bowl game at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, was not an option.
Ken Hoffman, the executive director of the Little Caesars Pizza, and his staff are working to put together another game starting in 2014, Steinbrecher said. And there could be a spot for the MAC in that game.
‘‘We’re interested in being in bowl games, and we’re interested in talking to people that want to put on bowl games, who will form solid partnerships that we can grow within and grow with,’’ Steinbrecher said. ‘‘If Ken is able to bring something forward, we’ll engage in that conversation ... We are looking to grow our primary opportunities.’’
For this season the MAC has guaranteed berths in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho on Dec. 21 against a Mountain West opponent; the Little Caesars Bowl on Dec. 26 against a Big Ten foe; and the Go Daddy Bowl on Jan. 5 in Mobile, Ala. against a Sun Belt team.
‘‘Our membership is still engaged in finalizing our bowl lineup for the 2014-19 period of time,’’ Steinbrecher said, adding there are still contracts in place for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the Go Daddy Bowl until 2019.
‘‘I anticipate that we will contract two or three primary additional bowl tie-ins, and I expect that there will be several backups included with that,’’ he said.
Last season there were 35 bowl games, including the BCS championship game.
‘‘I read somewhere somebody is expecting 40 bowls. I don’t know if we’ll get that high; I don’t know if that’s healthy,’’ Steinbrecher said. ‘‘I expect there will be a couple of more new bowls within the system.’’
Steinbrecher said he hopes to have the new bowl agreements in place within the next three months.
With the new playoff system starting in 2014, the MAC will be one of five conferences in contention for a New Year’s bowl game. The other conferences are American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mountain West Conference, and the Sun Belt.
The plan is for the highest-ranked champion from the five conferences to get a New Year’s bowl game.
13: The MAC has 13 members for football and Steinbrecher said he likes the current 13 institutions.
‘‘You grow your conference, or add members for probably two primary reasons — you do it to survive or you do it to get better,’’ Steinbrecher said. ‘‘We have the luxury of being able to be deliberate. Is 13 a little bit of an inelegant number, yea it probably it is. But we have made it work for seven of eight years.
‘‘There is no clock ticking or I don’t have administrators, breathing down my back saying ‘you’ve got to grow us,’’’ he continued, adding that the conference would look at anyone interested in joining the MAC.
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