Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
SEC announces new bowl affiliations through 2025
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during a news conference to announce changes to the Las Vegas Bowl football game, Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Bowl is moving to a new, bigger stadium next year, and will feature teams from the SEC or Big Ten conferences against a Pac-12 contender. (AP Photo/John Locher)
FAYETTEVILLE The Southeastern Conference has added two bowls and dropped the Independence Bowl from its postseason affiliations.
The league has partnered with the Las Vegas Bowl for three seasons between 2020-24 and with the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla., each year between 2020-25.
Beginning in 2020, the Las Vegas Bowl will move into the city’s new NFL stadium that will be home to the Raiders. The Gasparilla Bowl is played at Raymond James Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The SEC partnership with the Independence Bowl will end after the upcoming season.
The SEC has also cut back on the number of years it will send a representative to the Belk Bowl, from annually to each odd-numbered year between 2021-25.
Las Vegas will host an SEC vs. Pac-12 matchup in even-numbered years between 2020-24. Arkansas is the only SEC team to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, a 31-14 loss to UNLV in December 2000.
As part of the upcoming bowl cycle announced Tuesday, the Las Vegas and Belk bowls will alternate among the league’s “pool of six” bowl games between 2020-25. The other pool of six games include the Outback, Gator, Music City, Liberty and Texas bowls.
The highest-ranked SEC team that does not participate in the College Football Playoff will continue to play in the Sugar Bowl, and the Citrus Bowl will have the first pick of an SEC team that is not part of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
According to the league’s selection order, the pool of six bowls will select after the Citrus Bowl. The Birmingham and Gasparilla bowls will select any remaining bowl-eligible SEC teams.
Excluding the Sugar Bowl, all of the SEC’s bowl contracts run through the 2025 season.
The SEC has been affiliated with the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., most years since 1995, although it has not had enough bowl-eligible teams to play in the game several times, including three of the past four seasons.
Played at the aging Independence Stadium, the bowl game has faced a number of obstacles in recent years, including declining attendance and the loss of three sponsors since 2013.
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