There has been a concerted effort by the BCS to add a fifth bowl to its lineup. The reason given for this decision is the constant harping by the mid-major conferences about the lack of access to the big-time, big-money BCS bowls. Whatever one's opinions on that matter, the fact is that something needed to be done. The addition of a fifth bowl, something I've supported for a while anyway, would give the WAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, and, to a lesser degree, MAC, Sun Belt, and Big West the chance to play on the national stage. However, the matter at hand is figuring out just which bowl the BCS should add. Obviously, I have a very strong opinion on the matter, otherwise I would not be spending my time typing this.
There is really only one bowl that would fit well into the current scheme. That bowl is, of course, the Cotton Bowl. While other bowls may seem more prestigious right now -- the Citrus comes first to mind -- only the Cotton Bowl would provides all the upside. Having wished to see the Cotton Bowl join the BCS for some time, I am a little biased. But let us consider a few of the things that would make a bowl desirable and it will be easy to see that the Cotton is the best choice.
Take a look at a map of the current BCS bowls. The Orange in Florida, the Sugar in Louisiana, the Fiesta in Arizona, and the Rose in California. As you look at these, you will notice that there is a big gap in between these bowls. That gap is mostly filled with the enormous plain known as Texas. By planting a bowl in between the Fiesta and Sugar, the bowls will not be jumbled around on top of each other. While this may seem more of a prettiness issue than a real concern, it is a definite concern when you look at this closely.
BCS bowls are kind of a big deal. If they weren't, people wouldn't be so pissed off when their 9-2 or 13-1, 5th ranked team gets snubbed again and Ohio State or the Big East champion gets to go instead. While these are concerns that do not concern me particularly, BCS bowls draw a lot of fans from the contending schools, the Miami Hurricanes excepted. The problem here is that anyplace that has a BCS bowl is usually a vacation destination on or around the Christmas/New Year holidays. People are going to be flying in to airports in the host cities and probably any other city that is within an hour or two of driving distance.
What does this mean? This means that if there were two BCS bowls in Florida, good luck getting a flight. It's impossible to get a ticket to Miami at that time of year anyway, much less three weeks beforehand. so, people need to fly into cities like Tampa, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, maybe even Jacksonville. The Citrus is enough of a draw already, it doesn't need the additional stress of trying to cram a few thousand more people into already stressed airports. And, since the Citrus has one automatic bid given to the SEC, many of their fans can just drive to Tampa. But if Michigan is playing Syracuse in the Citrus and Oklahoma is playing Notre Dame in the Orange, people are going to be flying into Atlanta and driving to get there. This is not good.
While cities like San Diego and Tampa have good airports, they are simply not designed for the massive influx of people in a short period that a BCS bowl would give them. Yes, they currently handle a lot of vacationers around that time of year, but that is exactly the problem. These places are already receiving loads of people. An extra 70,000 in the space of 2-3 days would be all but impossible.
The Cotton Bowl, however, has a nice little way of taking care of that. This is known as Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. I don't know if you've ever seen this thing, but it is effing huge. The airport already provides massive support to piles of planes. An extra 70,000 would be problematic, yes, but not as much as it would be in someplace like Jacksonville. Plus, with the unpredictable winters in Dallas, it is not a major vacation stop for the snowbirds. Almost every other bowl game is someplace that is. Of the bowls that are not in prime winter vacation land, who really considers the Liberty, Music City, or Motor City Bowls as contenders?
This is the one thing point where the Cotton Bowl takes every other non-BCS bowl, slaps them around, then takes all their lunch money. Of the four bowls that used to be THE bowl games to go to, only the Cotton Bowl is not currently in the BCS. For those of you who do not remember, the Fiesta is a relative newcomer to the scene; it was only started in 1971 and was not really a marquee bowl until about 1980. The Cotton Bowl, however, has a tradition dating back to 1937.
If you think this is pointless, you need to remember why the BCS was invented. Its purpose was to preserve the traditional, bowl system while creating an annual national title game. Essentially, it was designed to stop the problems where a #1 team would coast by some #12 team in a bowl game, while #2 was losing the Rose Bowl. The only known exception to this rule is when Notre Dame was the #12 team, in which case they would kick the crap out of the #1 team, the #2 team would still lose in the Rose Bowl, and #3 would somehow have a national title thrown into their lap.
Since the fans were getting restless, there was first the Bowl Alliance, which was a failure due to the lack of the Big Ten and PAC-10 Ten's inability to get into the national title game. However, the BCS was formed essentially as a modified Bowl Alliance in order to put #1 and #2 in the same bowl game playing each other for all the marbles. At this it has been partially successful. However, the important fact is, the BCS wants to preserve the traditions of the game and the fact that the only traditional powerhouse bowl missing in this equation is the Cotton Bowl.
The Cotton Bowl has been idling by as its tie to the old Southwest Conference was lost when the SWC dissolved in the Big XII's expansion into Texas. However, the Cotton Bowl used to be a monumentally important game. Back in the heyday of the SWC, the state of Texas would turn out some powerhouse program that would defend its soil within its own borders. Teams like Baylor and SMU were still vital back in those days. The Texas Longhorns under Darryl Royal would vie in titanic struggle against those who dared step foot in the Lone Star State. The Cotton Bowl was a game worth watching, because there would be hard-nosed, well-fought, tough football happening on New Year's Day. It was not something settled for back then. It was a destination. You had to be damn good to get there and even better to win.
Unfortunately, the Cotton Bowl is a shadow of its former self. It has been relegated to playing a Big XII team against an at-large team. However, the Cotton Bowl would bend over backwards to get itself back among the elite. The folks who run it know what it is and they know what it used to be. There is nothing they won't do to make sure that the Cotton Bowl is once again a prime destination come the first of January.
For these and many other reasons including plenty of hotel space, probably a brand-new stadium, the fact that Texas is nuts for football, and the Cotton Bowl is easily the best choice for the fifth BCS bowl. There is no other game that even comes close.