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Big East Looking West at the Poinsettia Bowl

The Big East Conference is giving the Poinsettia Bowl some serious interest according to news out of San Diego. A Big East document is being sourced as saying the league's western football expansion in 2013 "will expand interest in bowl games for the league" and it specifically mentions the San Diego County Poinsettia Bowl as a possibility for 2014 and beyond.

For now, however, the Poinsettia Bowl’s future tie-ins are already set for the next few years:

2012: Mountain West vs. BYU

2013: Mountain West vs. Army

2014: TBA vs. Navy

The Big East plans to add six new football teams in 2013 that include San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida. That would create a Western Division to the conference. Navy will be joining in 2015, and the league will be seeking an additional western school, possibly Air Force or BYU, as a 14th member.

For now the Big East has bowl agreements with the Champs Sports Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, the Belk Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl, the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and the BCS. With a 14-team league, it’s only logical they will need at least a few bowls west of the Mississippi River. So it is not surprising that the Poinsettia Bowl was not alone as a Big East target: other possibilities noted in the document were tie-ins to the Las Vegas and Hawaii bowls. The Armed Forces Bowl in Texas and the Liberty Bowl in Memphis were also mentioned.

Western bowl realignments with the Big East could be good news for the Mountain West Conference following the news reported here yesterday by Jeremy Mauss that the MWC was losing the tie-in to the Independence Bowl. A new contract with the Poinsettia Bowl would offer a chance to keep old rivalries with San Diego State, SMU or Boise State, and it could effectively cement a longterm agreement for the MWC with the Poinsettia Bowl. Such an East vs West lineup would definately be appealing to western bowl administrators and their media partners and sponsors.

“We will certainly be interested in a match-up with the Big East if we can pull it off,” Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the Poinsettia Bowl told U-T San Diego. “But we’re still not sure who the Big East-west is going to be. The Mountain West still would have appeal to us because fans can travel from places in the West to San Diego in December.”

For now the Mountain West is a partner with the Poinsettia Bowl through at least the 2013 season. If the Big East nails down the other end of the bowl tie-in, that could change the dynamics and create a whole new level of play and a long term Big East-Mountain West relationship. That in turn could lead the bowl to a larger payout. But beyond the Poinsettia Bowl there is also the possibility of Big East teams playing in the Las Vegas Bowl opposite Mountain West teams and still others making the annual bowl trip out to the islands to do battle with Hawaii.

So how serious is all this? Well, documents have popped up making note of the fact that the subject came up during the Big East meeting in Florida last month. But if any serious discussions are taking place behind the scenes with bowl administrators it could only in the preliminary stages. Until stability replaces the uncertainty in league membership and the debut of a possible playoff system for the national championship is decided, don’t look for any firm bowl decisions being made until next year.

But at least they are talking about it.