All I spoke to, however, insist the Big 12 will more than make up for that via the rest of its lineup. The so-called No. 3 team for the Big 12 (after the playoff/Sugar and Alamo) most likely will meet the No. 2 team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (after the playoff/Orange Bowl) in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Industry insiders tell me the Orlando bowl has been increasing its purse and becoming a very prestigious destination.
Ditto the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl. That's played in Houston's Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL Texans. Big stadium. Big market. And the Big 12 will apparently be playing an SEC team. One said the payout could be in the $3 million range.
After that? Look for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to stick, although it might drop a click to the Big 12's No. 5 team. A league source told me conference schools insisted on a presence in Florida (Russell Athletic), a presence in Texas (Alamo and Meineke) and one in the West. BW's is in Tempe, Ariz. The opponent apparently will be from the ACC.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl, held at the old Cotton Bowl, has apparently taken a leap forward. (It was the old TicketCity Bowl.) How much so? It seems poised to host the Big 12's No. 6 team and a Big Ten team, according to my sources.
And get this: The final bowl landing spot could be the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. In the words of Adam Sandler, not too shabby. There have been reports that could involve an American (ex-Big East) team, but one source insists that too will be against an SEC team.
Another source also mentioned a possible Big 12 hookup with the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. A league insider, though, said Big 12 officials weren't keen on playing in a campus stadium. (It's played at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium.)
So the Big 12 lineup seems very strong. And remember how I said the league is feeling good for a couple reasons?
Reflect back on the dirty little secret. Then look above. The Big 12 might enter the next cycle with absolutely no bowl pacts with non-power conferences.
Decide for yourself whether that's good or bad for college football. Yet that's the prevailing wind. To those within, that wind has the sweet smell of success.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.