The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl is joining forces with the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
On Thursday, they agreed to share selections with the Big Ten and ACC for one of its participating teams during the 2014-19 football seasons.
Bowl contracts throughout the country are being revised with the start of the new College Football Playoff system, which replaces the BCS and removes the top four teams from those available to fill the traditional bowl lineup. In this case, the Music City Bowl and Gator Bowl (in Jacksonville, Fla.) will fill their four slots from three conferences — the SEC, ACC and Big Ten.
The Music City Bowl, played at LP Field, has had a tie-in with the ACC since 2006, partnered up with the Big Ten from 2002-05 and the Big East from 1998-2001.
“Really a huge move forward for us in terms of matchups,” Music City Bowl and Nashville Sports Council president Scott Ramsey said. “The creativity we were able to successfully negotiate and agree to with the ACC and Big Ten is really, really going to be something positive for Nashville. Having the flexibility to have either one of those conferences in our game in any particular year over the six years is really going to give us the flexibility to get the right team here that is going to bring a lot of fans and a lot of excitement to the city.”
Agreements with the SEC are pending to provide an opponent for the ACC and Big Ten. The game has featured an SEC tie-in since its inception in 1998.
Ramsey said the SEC is still finalizing its bowl lineup and he is “hopeful” the partnership will continue. Ramsey didn’t have a timetable on when the SEC will announce its new bowl contracts but he was optimistic he would hear something within the next two weeks.
“We feel good about it,” Ramsey said. “We’re working hard to secure it but they’re not final with their decisions yet.”
As far as pecking order for choosing teams, the Music City Bowl hopes to move up the ladder.
According to Ramsey, the Music City/Gator combo will get a crack at the No. 2, 3, 4 or 5 ACC teams and share the distribution with the Sun, Belk and Pinstripe bowls. For the Big Ten selection, the Music City/Gator will have the third or fourth pick.
The selection wouldn’t rotate from ACC to Big Ten every year, meaning the Music City Bowl could select teams from the same conference in consecutive years. But Ramsey said ideally he would want three ACC and three Big Ten schools in the bowl over the six-year deal.
Ramsey also pointed out that with the addition of Louisville and Notre Dame to the ACC, the Music City Bowl “really stands to benefit as an increased matchup as much as anybody in the country.”
“We’re really going to look at the teams that match up well in the cities and not have a pecking order like we traditionally have where there has been a draft,” he said. “We may be the only two bowls having two conferences on one side of the game. I think when you look at the economics of the bowl games right now, I think fans our really saying we like the regional [proximity]. We like the chance to drive. We like a short flight. … I think the partnership with the Gator Bowl folks is going to be really beneficial for us and hopefully increase our economic impact and overall matchups each year.”
Ramsey said he is unsure where the bowl would fall in selection of SEC schools. The bowl currently gets the seventh SEC pick and sixth ACC choice.
Vanderbilt defeated North Carolina 38-24 in the 2012 Music City Bowl in front of 55,801. The 16th annual Music City Bowl is set for Dec. 30 (2:15 p.m., ESPN) and is slated to pit an SEC team and ACC foe for the eighth straight year.
“We are excited for Big Ten football to return to Nashville and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl,” Big Ten commissioner and former Ohio Valley conference commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement.
“Over the last 15 years, this bowl has been successful in creating a memorable trip for student-athletes and fans who travel to the mid-south. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, in partnership with the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, is a welcome addition to our national bowl lineup and will provide Big Ten teams and fans a rewarding postseason experience.”