NEW ORLEANS — There was no treat for the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday.
But neither was there a trick.
Halloween came and went without an expected announcement from the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 about the site of their new Champions Bowl.
But SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack said Wednesday that a decision would be revealed soon, possibly by the end of the week.
“We’re not quite there yet,” Womack said. “The goal was to try to get it done this week. Whether that will be the case of not, we’re still not quite sure on that.”
The Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl are the finalists for the Champions Bowl, which will pit the highest-ranked available teams from the SEC in the Big 12 in the years in which it does not serve as a semifinal game in the new BCS playoff system, which debuts in 2014.
The Champions Bowl will take on the name of whichever existing bowl it selects.
Exactly how many of those Champions Bowls are semifinals appears to be part of the hang-up on the decision.
While originally it was to have been a semifinal site four times in the 12-year cycle the BCS has announced, indications are that the SEC and Big 12 might wish it to be only two of three times because they have to share the revenue from those games. The SEC and Big 12 would retain all broadcast and sponsorship rights from the Champions Bowl.
Womack, who has been in charge of the process for the SEC, acknowledged that “the number (of semifinals) is still questionable,” adding: “Sometimes, things take a little extra time. We’re still trying to work through some issues.
“Getting two different conferences to work things out and having all of our ADs on board is a little more time-consuming.”
Big 12 officials did not respond to interview requests Wednesday.
The delay leaves the Sugar Bowl on tenterhooks for another day.
The bowl’s long history of remaining among the top tier of bowl games is riding on the outcome.
“We haven’t been given an exact date,” Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan said Wednesday. “Like everyone else, we’re just waiting to hear.”
Not getting the Champions Bowl would probably mean the Sugar Bowl becomes one of the three “access” bowls featuring at-large teams determined by the new BCS selection committee. The access bowls will be played on New Year’s Eve, while the Champions Bowl will occupy the prime-time spot on Jan. 1, following the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl.
However, the access bowls could wind up with four playoff semifinals, and the decision apparently would not affect New Orleans’ chances of securing one or more national championship games over the next 12 years.
In seeking to become the Champions Bowl, the Sugar Bowl has stressed its place in the BCS hierarchy since its beginning and New Orleans’ reputation as the country’s premier big-event sports city.
The Cotton Bowl has a significantly larger stadium and the financial backing of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Womack added that the status of a proposed “seventh BCS bowl,” guaranteeing a spot to the highest-ranked team from outside the five power conferences while awarding it at least two semifinals, is another factor in the delay. Houston is the leading contender for that game.
Another factor is the ongoing TV negotiations with ESPN, although Womack said all parties are flexible enough to determine the site first.
“We are talking about a long-term, major deal here,” he said. “And we need to have everybody on board and in agreement.
“But we’re hopeful to have it done soon.”