The addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten this season has led to some added excitement among our selection committee (and many of the people we talk to around Orlando). The possibility of the Cornhuskers hitting Orlando as part of a future Capital One Bowl sounds pretty good to a lot of people, and we can think of at least one famous fan in the area.
Adding Nebraska to the travel schedule does add one other wrinkle for at least one season: it’s a whole new set of fans, media members and eve school officials who don’t really know that much about the Capital One Bowl.
Our selection committee’s job on the road each Saturday is to educate those groups on the details of the game – our place in the selection order, other events in Orlando surrounding the game, the status of the Citrus Bowl’s new AstroTurf field, etc. In the case of some schools (like say, Nebraska’s first Big Ten opponent Wisconsin, who has appeared in Orlando four times since 2006), it’s more of a reminder. However, out in Lincoln, we are almost starting from scratch.
Early reports from our selection committee members at Memorial Stadium have focused on how little the fans and media knew about Orlando Bowl Week. After over 100 years in the Big 12 and its predecessors, that’s understandable. All of this information is new to them, and it’s up to us to let them know where the Capital One Bowl stands in relation to their previous bowl destinations and partnerships.
The Cornhuskers have played in Orlando just once before and hold an 0-1 record after losing the 1991 Florida Citrus Bowl to Bobby Ross and Georgia Tech. On the heels of that win, the Yellow Jackets would go on to hold a share of the national championship that season. Two years after that game, we entered into our exclusive agreements with the SEC and Big Ten, so this season is the first where Nebraska has a chance to return to the City Beautiful.
By all accounts, the Nebraska fans and officials have been very hospitable to our reps, and Lincoln is quickly becoming an in-demand location for future trips. We’ll keep doing our best to ensure that they know about everything there is to do in Central Florida around the Capital One Bowl and Orlando Bowl Week.
With more conference expansion on the horizon in the SEC (Texas A&M) as well as the Big East (TCU) and ACC (Pittsburgh and Syracuse), we’re going to have to get used to educating all the new fans that could be spending December and January in Orlando.