Gator Bowl a wrench in bowl mix for Missouri

Gator Bowl officials shed light on bowl slot choices.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:35 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The cluttered college bowl game situation just got a little clearer.

The president of the Gator Bowl, Richard Catlett, said Tuesday night the bowl has essentially narrowed its wish list down to three teams from two conferences for selection to match up against an ACC opponent.

“If we were to pick a Big 12 team, it would be Texas,” Catlett said.

Two of the next four years the bowl must take a Big 12 Conference team, the other two years it will take either a Big East team or Notre Dame. As of Tuesday, the tentative lineup according to a handful of bowl officials, is for the loser of the Oklahoma-Nebraska game to go to the Cotton Bowl and Texas A&M will head to the Holiday Bowl. That leaves Texas available for a trip to Jacksonville or to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, should the Gator Bowl pass on the Longhorns.

If the Gator Bowl does not take Texas this year, it will select a team from the Big East.

Keep in mind, the only way for the Gator Bowl to jump the Holiday and Cotton bowls in the selection process is by exercising a clause that allows it to do so when the Big 12 doesn’t have two teams in the Bowl Championship Series games. With Oklahoma ranked No. 12 and Nebraska No. 20 in the BCS standings, it’s almost impossible that the loser of Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game will be ranked high enough for selection to a BCS bowl.

Catlett said because the likelihood of two Big 12 teams in the BCS this year was almost none, the bowl would not wait to take Texas in the Big 12’s No. 4 slot. It would use its clause to select ahead of the Cotton and Holiday bowls if it decides Texas gives the best matchup and brings a healthy amount of fans.

If the Gator Bowl opts to pick a team from the Big East, it would be of two teams from the pool of Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia. Whichever team wins the Big East out of those three will go to a BCS game. The other two would be available for selection by the Gator Bowl.

What the Gator Bowl decides has significant ripple effects on the rest of the bowl landscape, and will play a significant role in where Missouri goes.

If the Gator Bowl passes on Texas, the Alamo Bowl will take the Longhorns. The next bowl in line to pick a Big 12 team would be the Sun Bowl, where officials there have said it would take the Tigers in that scenario.

But if the Gator Bowl selects Texas, that puts the Alamo Bowl up for grabs among Missouri, Kansas State and Texas Tech. Missouri is essentially the third team in a three-horse race at this point, but is still a significant part of the conversation according to Alamo Bowl spokesman Rick Hill.

The Insight Bowl selects after the Alamo Bowl, and spokesman Tom Fridena said it would take the Tigers if Missouri fell down the list.

“We know what we would like to do, but a couple of bowls ahead of us still haven’t made their determination,” Fridena said.

The official announcements won’t come until Sunday, and Catlett said the Gator Bowl would wait to make its decision until after the slate of Saturday’s game that includes Rutgers-West Virginia, Louisville-Connecticut, the Big 12 Championship Game and the ACC Championship Game.

“We need to do that because we have a whole lot of opportunities based on Saturday’s football games,” Catlett said.

COACHES HONORS: The coaches’ All-Big 12 football team was announced Tuesday, and three Missouri players were named to the first team.

Linebacker Marcus Bacon, offensive lineman Joel Clinger and tight end Martin Rucker earned spots on the first team. Bacon leads the Tigers with 103 tackles, five forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles and two interceptions.

Tight end Chase Coffman, quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive end Brian Smith were named to the second team. Rucker over Coffman for first team honors at tight end was a bit of a surprise. Coffman has more catches, receiving yards and touchdowns than Rucker on the season.

Will Franklin, Dedrick Harrington, Xzavie Jackson, Tony Temple, Darnell Terrell, Lorenzo Williams and Jeff Wolfert received honorable mention.

Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and Oklahoma linebacker Rufus Alexander was named the Defensive Player of the Year.

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