The Sugar and Cotton Bowls are in a "dead heat" for the rights to host the Champions Bowl that pits winners from the SEC and Big 12 as part of the playoff format in 2014, according to a source with direct knowledge of this week's meetings between the conferences.
The two sides met in Nashville, Tenn., to discuss the matter, with SEC commissioner Mike Slive telling NOLA.com a final decision likely won't come until the end of the month.
San Antonio, Houston and Atlanta are also finalists for bowl, but several industry officials recognize it's becoming a two-way race between New Orleans' Superdome and Cowboys Stadium near Dallas in Arlington.
Both sites have reason to attract the conferences. New Orleans is a geographical middle ground, while Dallas has the outlandish ‘Jerry's World' stadium. Both have fertile recruiting bases.
The winning bidder would take the “Champions Bowl" name and likely enter the playoff semifinal rotation. BCS officials could involve up to seven sites to host playoff rounds during the 12-year span of the new contract.
The leagues would run the game as a contract bowl, similar to the Big Ten/Pac-12 setup with the Rose Bowl. The bowl's annual TV payout could reach the $80-million range.