SAN FRANCISCO – Two of college football’s premier conferences, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, will face each other in the Bay Area’s post-season bowl game beginning in 2014.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl today announced six-year agreements that will establish a new partnership with the Big Ten and significantly improve the Bowl’s selection rights in the Pac-12. Both pacts will run from 2014 through 2019.
Effective with the new match-up, the Bowl will be played in the new 68,500 seat Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, future home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers and site of the Super Bowl in 2016.
“Our objective entering negotiations for the next bowl cycle was to elevate the game,” said Bowl Executive Director Gary Cavalli. “Specifically, we wanted to move up in the Pac-12 and secure the highest quality opponent possible. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to achieve both goals. With a Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup and a new world-class stadium, we’ve positioned our game very well for the future.”
Under terms of its renewal with the Pac-12, the Bowl will have the No. 4 pick, within parameters established by the conference, [after the Rose/Playoff Group, Alamo and Holiday Bowls], a jump of two positions from its current No. 6. The Bowl will work with the Big Ten to create the best possible matchup for the Pac-12 and ensure that at least five different Big Ten teams visit the Bay Area during the six-year term.
“The opportunity for the Big Ten Conference to play an annual bowl game in a world-class city like San Francisco, in a state-of-the-art, new NFL stadium, and in an area rich in football tradition appealed to our Directors of Athletics and head coaches,” Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said.
“The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is a welcome addition to the national Big Ten bowl family, one we hope will also appeal to the many graduates, fans and friends of Big Ten football who work and live in Northern California.”
“We are delighted to continue the Pac-12’s relationship with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and thrilled to build on our postseason partnership with the Big Ten Conference in the Bay Area,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.
“Having the opportunity to showcase the two conferences with a quality match-up in the San Francisco 49ers new state-of-the-art stadium is a win-win for our teams and fans.”
AT&T Park has been the game’s home since its inception in 2002. This year’s finale at the downtown San Francisco ballpark is scheduled on Friday, December 27 at 6:30 p.m. PST/9:30 p.m. EST. The contest will pair the Pac-12’s No. 6 selection against BYU [if bowl-eligible]. If the Cougars do not achieve bowl eligibility, the Bowl has a backup agreement with the ACC.
When the game venue moves to Santa Clara next year, the team headquarters hotels and most bowl-week activities will remain in San Francisco.
The Pac-12 was first represented in the game in 2006, when UCLA faced Florida State. Oregon State came to San Francisco in 2007, followed by California in 2008 and USC in 2009. After a year’s hiatus, the Pac-12 sent UCLA again to the 2011 matchup, then Arizona State this past season. Pac-12 teams own a 4-2 record overall in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
The Big Ten is undefeated in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, with a victory by Illinois in 2011.
With the Big Ten, the Pac-12 refreshes a rivalry that dates back to the first Rose Bowl Game at the turn of the last century. The ‘Granddaddy Of Them All’ was first played in 1902 when Michigan defeated Stanford.
The union of the two conferences in the new 49ers stadium represents a significant potential increase in not only attendance, but also in television ratings. Between them, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have a television ‘reach’ that stretches from coast to coast, marked by a presence in 12 of the top 20 national television markets and 15 of the top 30.
The Big Ten Conference footprint extends to major U.S. & Nielsen TV markets, including New York/#1 Nielsen [Rutgers]; Chicago/#3 [Illinois & Northwestern]; Philadelphia/#4 & Pittsburgh #23 [Penn State]; Washington, D.C./#8 & Baltimore #27 [Maryland]; Detroit/#11 [Michigan & Michigan State]; Minneapolis-St. Paul/#15 [Minnesota] and Cleveland/#18 [Ohio State].
The remaining five institutions in the 14-team conference enjoy statewide as well as national followings [Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana].
The 12-team Pac-12 Conference encompasses Los Angeles/#2 Nielsen [UCLA & USC]; San Francisco Bay Area/#6 [Stanford & California]; Seattle-Tacoma /#12 [Washington & Washington State]; Pboenix/#13 [Arizona & Arizona State]; Denver/#17 [Colorado]; Portland/#22 [Oregon & Oregon State] and Salt Lake City/#33 [Utah].