Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tech to the Gator Bowl???

(from Ivan Maisel's weekly column found here)

Gator Bowl Rumblings

If you thought one-win Notre Dame would have no effect on the bowl selections this year, think again. The lure of a recovering Fighting Irish team in 2008 or 2009 might convince the Gator Bowl to take 7-5 Texas Tech this season. Here's how the Gator Bowl's trick box works:

The Gator Bowl is in the second year of a four-year contract with the Big East and the Big 12. The Gator will take a team from the Big East in two seasons and a team from the Big 12 in two seasons (an ACC team will be on the other side of the bowl). Keep in mind that when Notre Dame does not make the BCS, it participates in the Big East's bowls.

Last year, Big East runner-up West Virginia played in Jacksonville. That leaves two seasons for the Big 12, one for the Big East. For that alone, it stands to reason that the Gator would lean toward the Big 12 this season.

In one of the two seasons the Gator picks a Big 12 team, it may choose ahead of the Cotton and Holiday bowls, the league's top two non-BCS bowls. With four highly ranked teams in the Big 12 -- No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Missouri and No. 13 Texas -- this would seem to be the obvious year to take advantage of that clause.

But here is where it gets tricky: If the Big 12 sends two teams to the BCS, the Gator may not move ahead of the Cotton and Holiday bowls to make its choice. Since two Big 12 teams appear headed to the BCS, that means the Gator would get the fifth pick in the league. That would appear to be a Texas Tech team that is 7-4 and playing Oklahoma this week.

The Gator could return to the Big East, where the second pick could be Cincinnati or UConn, both of which are 8-2 and must play Syracuse and No. 6 West Virginia in the next two weeks. But if the Gator takes, say, a 9-3 Cincinnati, the bowl is committing itself to the Big 12 for the next two seasons and precluding itself from access to Notre Dame and the Big East.

If you think Notre Dame is in too deep a hole to get back to eight or nine wins in the next two years, then you take the Bearcats this season. If you want to keep your options open, you take the Red Raiders. Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said he would consult with CBS, which televises the game, and make his decision.

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