Last Thursday I wrote a post on The SEC and Bowl Contracts, seeing as how every bowl contract runs up at the end of the season and negotiations are underway for the next fout-year cycle. For the next few months, you'll hear details trickle out and today, the Birmingham News shed some more light on the situation, with their ability to interview key players in the deal and all. Their take was very similar to mine, with the exception of not throwing out the idea of an SEC-Pac 10 game in Phoenix. See what they said below the fold.
Basically, it's a two-horse race for the first selection after the BCS choices between the Capital One Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. However, even the Cotton seems to be conceding that spot, despite the shiny new stadium and eye on becoming a BCS game. The President of the bowl certainly didn't sound like they were going to up the payout to make a statement in today's article.
"A lot depends on the marketplace the Capital One sets," Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker said.
Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker said his game is "fairly satisfied" with its current spot in the SEC. The Cotton will pay the SEC $3.25 million this season for the first pick of available SEC West teams, or an occasional East team, after the BCS and Capital One choices
As I mentioned last week, the big unknown continues to be the Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando, home to the Capital One Bowl. It is badly in need of renovations and the current economy is killing the revenue-producing tourism industry right now. Whether or not that will affect this year's contract negotiations remains to be seen, but it certainly leaves the door open for another bowl to swoop in and steal away the top choice of SEC teams away from Orlando.
Stalled renovations to Orlando's aging Citrus Bowl, where the Capital One is played, have raised questions about the game's future with the SEC and Big Ten. In the spring, Hogan told The Orlando Sentinel that the SEC and Big Ten have "grown tired of waiting for the renovation - especially with other cities such as Dallas looking to muscle in on Orlando's bowl positioning."
Hogan said last week that renovating the Citrus Bowl remains important, but the conferences understand Orlando's situation given the economy. Improvements to the stadium, projected to cost $175 million, have been delayed because of a 20 percent drop in tourism revenue.
"I think we will have addressed the concerns of the commissioners as we go," Hogan said. "I certainly don't want to dismiss the concerns. But no one is saying, `You've got to have that stadium built next year.' It's a delicate balance. Hopefully, we and all of our partners have a long-term view in terms of the relationship."
The Capital One Bowl still offers the biggest non-BCS payout at $4.5 million this year, but a matching offer from anyone could lead the SEC into another venue for its best team that doesn't make the BCS. I'm still hoping that goes to the Cotton Bowl, where the SEC No. 2 could face off with the Big 12 No. 2 in a battle royale between the nation's two best conference.