College conferences over the next six months will "line up their non-BCS bowl partners for the next" TV contract after the current one expires next year, and "officials on both sides are already talking about shakeup -- both in regard to the lineup and the way they conduct business together," according to Stewart Mandel of SI.com. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, "In the next cycle of bowls, it's going to be really important to do some creative things." Delany said that he "wants the conference bowl lineup to become 'more national' than its current glut of Florida games; he wants to keep fans from becoming fatigued by repeat trips to the same destination." A source said that the "conference collaboration Delany speaks of may consist of a format like this: Over a six-year cycle, the Big Ten and Big 12 might share spots in the Holiday (San Diego) and Kraft Fight Hunger (San Francisco) bowls, with each league playing three seasons in both." Delany: "You'll hopefully see more conferences collaborating. We want to create a better business approach for (the bowls) and ourselves." Mandel reported even if conferences succeed in "creating more interesting matchups, there's still the vexing issue of guaranteeing ticket sales." The bowls in some cases "can't supply enough tickets." For the most part, it has become "unrealistic for schools to sell expensive full-price tickets when there are drastically cheaper seats available via secondary outlets like StubHub." The "obvious solution would be to reduce ticket guarantees, but bowl officials counter that they need the ticket revenue in part to satisfy conferences' desired bowl payouts." Mandel noted that while TV viewership "remains high ... overall attendance figures declined by more than two percent for the second straight year" (SI.com, 1/10).
ATTENDANCE DOWN, BUT NOT DIRE: In Orlando, Matt Murschel reported despite the overall drop in attendance for the 35 total bowls, 18 games "saw an increase in overall attendance and 14 bowl games saw more than 50,000 fans in attendance." Football Bowl Association Exec Dir Wright Waters said, "If you compare bowl game attendance to other sports, including regular season college football, the stats this year measure up to what we are seeing across the country. There are lots of factors that affect attendance whether it is the state of the economy, weather or the match-ups ... many things bowls have control over, and many they don't" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/10).