Houston's taste for college-football bowl games was soured pretty ferociously by the inanity of Mattress Mac's galleryfurniture.com Bowl. But its successor, the Texas Bowl, has proven to be a well-run, entertaining event that has drawn decent, energetic crowds without frantically papering the house.
The game has made the move from the low-visibility NFL Network to ESPN, where it will be part of the heavily promoted slate of bowls in December. And next year, it will take an even bigger step, announced today: It's dumping Conference USA in favor of the Big Ten.
Bad news for C-USA, which of course is home to UH and Rice, but good news for local football fans.
The game is not quite getting the cream of the Big 10 crop, of course; that conference's sixth-place team will face the Big 12's sixth-place team. But if the invites went out today, that would mean Penn State would be coming, and that's not too bad.
The Texas Bowl had to bump up its payout to teams. Bowl payouts are slippery things and generally not made public (if they are, they don't always match reality), but the Texas Bowl likely had to double its payout to attract the Big 10.
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"While we have had great success with our match-ups over the last three years, this new partnership with the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences guarantees our fans the chance to see two football powerhouses play at Reliant Stadium in 2010 and beyond," bowl spokesperson Heather Houston said.
Don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass, C-USA, she didn't add.
Things are looking even rosier for the Texas Bowl in the future: Many college-football experts expect the Cotton Bowl, which is moving to Jerry Jones' new stadium, to become a BCS bowl. That would stop the whining of the Boise States and BYUs of the NCAA world who claim they are unfairly blocked from the big-time BCS games. It would also open up the chance for the Texas Bowl to become a New Year's Day game, and that brings with it even more prestige.
Here's hoping it works out. We've been to a couple of Texas Bowls and it's been fun.