If the Big Ten chooses to partner with Ford Field’s new bowl game, it’s behaving like a bully. And not an intelligent one.
Ford Field execs notified Little Caesars Pizza Bowl CEO Ken Hoffman months ago that they were creating their own bowl game, Hoffman said Wednesday on “Staudt on Sports” on WVFN 730-AM in Lansing, leaving the Pizza Bowl without a home.
Hoffman and Little Caesars Bowl co-founder George Perles said they plan to continue their game, with the Mid-American Conference, without the Big Ten and at a new venue, perhaps Comerica Park.
Comerica Park in December for MAC football is dumb.
But so is the Big Ten in this, if it bites on Ford Field’s proposal, choosing the Fords over Mike Ilitch (who owns Little Caesars) and for what ESPN reported to be an ACC foe over the MAC.
The Big Ten has only three times supplied the Motor City-turned-Little Caesars Bowl with a team — twice Purdue, once Northwestern — because the game usually fell in the pecking order beneath its bowl-eligible teams.
The draw, however, was never the Big Ten. It was Central Michigan and Western Michigan and Toledo that brought in the best crowds, often north of 50,000 fans. Regionally, certain years, the game was a big deal to those schools.
And, if a Big Ten team was the opponent, all the better. But the fans came from the MAC. They won’t for N.C. State or some other middling ACC program.
Certainly for television dollars and perhaps for the Big Ten’s new anti-pecking-order bowl system — an affiliated bowl has to select five different teams over six years — this makes more sense. After all, if the third- or fourth-place team is going to be shipped to Detroit in December, facing the MAC wouldn’t be acceptable.
But there is no reason the Big Ten, if it wants a Detroit postseason presence, couldn’t make that game exempt from the new bowl slotting system, having its seventh or eighth team always there.
This much I know: Purdue vs. Wake Forest won’t draw what Purdue-CMU or Purdue-WMU did.
The Big Ten ought to be able to see that.