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Some College Football Bowl Games Could Be Going Away

A general view of Northwestern's football field inside Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 18: A general view as the Northwestern Wildcats practice for a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday November 20 at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Just over a week ago, college football insider Brett McMurphy reported that three new bowl games are looking to get into the mix. The headliner is a bowl game set to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The legendary baseball venue has been reconfigured to better fit football. Northwestern will be playing the occasional Big Ten game there.

From McMurphy's account, which was posted to Facebook:

The NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee approved the recommendations to add three new bowl games for the 2020 season, sources said.

In 2020, a record 43 bowls (including the College Football Playoff title game) will be held, meaning a record 65 percent of the 130 FBS schools (84 teams) will play in a bowl.

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* The three new bowls have not been determined but sources told me Chicago and Myrtle Beach are near locks to host two of the new bowl games.

The Chicago bowl, to be played at Wrigley Field, will feature the Big Ten against the ACC, sources said. To add the Chicago bowl in 2020, the Big Ten is expected to end its affiliation with the San Francisco Bowl (formerly Foster Farms Bowl) after 2019.

Myrtle Beach and ESPN officials have had ongoing discussions about starting this bowl game, sources said. The most likely conferences affiliated with Myrtle Beach could be Conference USA, the Sun Belt or the Mid-American. If the Sun Belt is involved, look for the league to cut ties in 2020 with either Arizona, Dollar General, Camellia or Cure, all part of the Sun Belt’s current bowl lineup.

The third new bowl? This isn’t as clear cut. Arizona State has shown interest in adding a bowl in Tempe. And a number of cities/communities have expressed interest in the past including Charleston, S.C., and Greenville, N.C. The only certainty is before a bowl can be created, it must have a contract with two conferences and/or BYU/Army.

At the time, McMurphy was correct in that it looked like we may have 43 bowls on the horizon. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says that the new college football bowl game structure is a bit more complex than that.

Bowlsby joined Associate Press college football writer Ralph D. Russo on his podcast recently to discuss some of the major rule changes to the sport. The bowl structure took up much of the conversation.

According to Bolwsby, the three new bowls reported to be coming might not mean an actual expansion of the bowl slate. The NCAA has proposed capping conferences on their bowl slots, which could lead to some interesting affects on the bowl schedule. The governing body doesn't want a rash of 5-7 teams, but also doesn't want eligible teams being left out, so there could be something of a flexible market on bowls from year to year. From Russo's summary of the podcast:

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the NCAA approving three new bowls to begin play in 2020 does not guarantee the total number of postseason games will grow.

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As for the bowls, the NCAA approved the addition of three new games for the next postseason cycle of six years, starting 2020. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of bowls, which was 39 last year, not including the College Football Playoff championship game will increase. By capping the number of bowls a conference can contract with according to the league’s four-year average of producing bowl-eligible teams, it could leave some bowls without conference partners — a risky position for game organizers.

If college football adds the Chicago, and potential Myrtle Beach/Arizona bowls, and the slate doesn't expand, that means some existing bowls could be going away, at least on an every year basis.

As of now, we do not have a great idea of what bowls might wind up on the chopping block, or how exactly this will work in practice. Fans in towns with the smaller bowls might want to be on guard though.

[Associated Press]