The Gator Bowl Association expects to sign a multi-year contract with either the Big 10 or Big 12 conference soon to replace the Big East in the annual Toyota Gator Bowl game.
The Big East has been ravaged by the loss of teams to the Gator Bowl’s other conference affiliate, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and local officials have been looking for a more attractive tie-in.
The Big 10 contains teams such as Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan; the Big 12 has Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska.
The Big East, which has provided one of the Toyota Gator Bowl teams for the last 11 years, has lost Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College to the ACC in the last year. All were attractive teams for the area and the conference has replaced them with teams such as Cincinnati and Louisville, which presumably have lesser drawing power.
The Big East-ACC contract runs through the next game, which will be on January 2, 2006. The new match-up will begin with the 2007 game.
The association gets the first choice of any ACC team which doesn’t qualify for the Bowl Championship Series, a four-bowl alliance that is intended to identify a national champion.
It is not clear at what level the association would choose a team with either the Big 10 or Big 12. Both conferences presently have bowl affiliations which go as deep as the No. 6 team but some of those contracts also are up for renewal.
The Toyota Gator Bowl annually rates among the top four of the 28 bowls in attendance and is the only bowl televised by NBC.
Florida State defeated West Virginia 30-18 before 70,112.