Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gator, Big East at Odds over Selection Process; the Bowl Is Happy with the Hybrid System, but the Conference Isn't

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gator, Big East at Odds over Selection Process; the Bowl Is Happy with the Hybrid System, but the Conference Isn't

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

The Big East Conference doesn't want to share the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl with another league.

Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said it's nice to be wanted, but he intends to preserve a hybrid selection system with one half of the New Year's Day matchup in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium -- a system he said had nothing to do with perceptions about the Big East's overall quality in football.

The two sides appear headed for a showdown by the late summer or early fall as non-BCS bowls and conference partners have begun the process of renegotiating for the next four-year cycle, which begins in 2011.

Incoming Big East commissioner John Marinatto told the Times-Union on Monday at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, site of this week's Big East spring meeting, that the conference has no interest in renewing the current arrangement in which the Gator Bowl can select a Big East team twice and a Big 12 team twice, to oppose an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

The Gator Bowl can bypass a Big East team for Notre Dame, if the Irish are bowl-eligible and not in a BCS game.

In the first three years of the four-year contract, the Gator selected Texas Tech and Nebraska from the Big 12 and West Virginia from the Big East. This year, the Gator will have to select either a Big East team or Notre Dame.

Marinatto said national perceptions about the Big East as a football conference -- and negotiating clout -- had dropped considerably when Miami and Virginia Tech bolted the league to join the ACC in 2003, with Boston College following in 2004. The current deal with the Gator Bowl was signed in the summer of 2005, but the league has had an affiliation with the Gator Bowl since 1996.

Marinatto said the climate is much different since the league added South Florida, Louisville and Cincinnati, and West Virginia and Louisville then combined to win three consecutive BCS bowls.

The Big East is 12-4 in bowls in the past three years.

"We had to do some things after 2003 and 2004 that we weren't too happy about," Marinatto said about agreeing to the hybrid contract with the Gator Bowl and the Sun Bowl. …

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