Aug. 18, 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – BIG EAST Commissioner John Marinatto sat down for a one-on-one interview with to answer specific questions regarding the conference’s announcement that it will have a partnership with the Champs Sports Bowl for the upcoming 2010-2013 bowl cycle.

Q: Talk about the BIG EAST’s bowl selection process as a whole. How long ago did it begin?

A: Every conference is in a similar position as the BIG EAST right now; every four-year cycle usually brings about shifting in relationships between conferences and bowls. We tried to be ahead of the game, so our process started over a year ago. As a result, we’re excited to be the first BCS automatic qualifying conference to announce a bowl agreement for the next cycle.

Q: Why did the BIG EAST decide to move away from its long standing relationship with the Gator Bowl?

A: The Gator Bowl has been a great partner with the BIG EAST for 16 years, but our coaches and athletic directors were excited about the opportunity to have a new experience for our student-athletes and fans. In the end, we felt as though the Champs Sports Bowl better fit the criteria we have established for our first bowl opportunity after the BCS (2nd overall).

Q: Why is it advantageous for the BIG EAST and its members to have a partnership with the Champs Sports Bowl for its first bowl opportunity after the BCS?

A: It is our goal to put together the best possible bowl line-up we can, and when we evaluate our bowl opportunities, we look at destination, geography and opponent. The Champs Sports Bowl provides our membership with a desirable place for fans and student-athletes to go, a bowl located in a place that our fans can drive to or get to easily and a game that would be played against a BCS automatic qualifying opponent. In addition, Orlando, which has been hosting bowl games for over 60 years, is a city rich in bowl tradition. Our rosters continue to be stocked with players from Florida, and its no secret that Orlando sits in the middle of a recruiting hot bed for college football.

Q: Is it true that the BIG EAST would not accept a “hybrid” model that currently exists between the BIG EAST, Gator and Sun Bowls?

A: Yes, it is true. We feel as though were are in a much better negotiating position now than we were four years ago based on our recent performance and the stability of the conference. The hybrid structure would allow for Notre Dame to be selected twice in a four-year period in our No. 2 bowl spot. In our new agreement with the Champs Sports Bowl, Notre Dame can be selected only once during the four-year period.

Q: Why does the BIG EAST Conference choose to partner with Notre Dame when establishing its bowl deals?>

A: A BIG EAST member in 24 sports, Notre Dame has been and continues to be a great partner for us in football. The relationship between Notre Dame and the BIG EAST Conference in football works because it is mutually beneficial. It allows the conference to sign better bowl agreements while at the same time, provides Notre Dame guaranteed bowl tie-ins outside of the BCS that it would not have been able to garner on its own.

Q: Is it important for the BIG EAST to have a bowl game that’s played on New Year’s Day?

A: The college football bowl landscape has changed over the last several years. There are 34 bowl games played over a two-and-a-half week span, with the highest level (BCS) games being played a week after New Year’s Day. As a result, we feel as though the day of a game has become less important. Instead, we placed more of an emphasis on destination, geography and opponent.

Q: What can we expect from the BIG EAST in terms of signing subsequent bowl deals now that the Champs Sports Bowl agreement has been announced?

A: Most conferences tend to negotiate their partnerships from the top, down. As a result, we can now focus on the rest of our lineup, which entails discussions with both current partners and new ones. We will continue to evaluate our opportunities with the same criteria we have with the Champs Sports Bowl.