In one of the biggest surprises of yesterday's bowl selection, the ACC hits paydirt.
Greensboro, N.C.--For the first time in its 14 years in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the Atlantic Coast Conference has had two teams selected to participate in BCS Bowl games in the same year.
We all knew that Clemson would represent the ACC as the conference champion in the Orange Bowl, but were surprised to hear that the conference placed a second program in the BCS' Sugar Bowl:
"The 78th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic will feature the University of Michigan, from the Big Ten Conference, against Virginia Tech, from the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. The game is scheduled to kick off at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. This will be the first meeting between the two programs."
To recap, that's a program that benefited from NOT playing in its conference championship game and a program that benefited from no one watching its conference championship game, presumably (or at least flipping to Bedlam or the Big Ten Championship Game at halftime).
We've been hoping that the ACC would finally get two teams into the BCS to, I don't know, validate conference expansion (?) and silence the conference's football critics. But frankly, I didn't want it to come like this.
Virginia Tech played no one in non-conference play. Like, literally, no one. Four non-BCS AQ opponents in Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall. The Hokies struggled to put away Duke, East Carolina, Miami and North Carolina, beat all of one ranked opponent all season (and no teams that finished in the BCS Top 25) and got waxed by Clemson ... twice. This even caused CBS's Dennis Dodd to joke that the Sugar Bowl should be marketed as Clemson's B---- vs. Michigan.
Sugar Bowl boss Paul Hoolahan cited Virginia Tech's ability to sell tickets and strong travel as justification for selecting the Hokies. Bowl selection about more than on-field results? Not new news, but no less ridiculous.
I'm happy the ACC is going to benefit financially from this, but this still makes the conference look bad. Real bad. And when the Hokies invariably get smoked by the Wolverines (which will happen because VT isn't facing a team from the Big East in this year's bowl game), we'll be subjected to even more criticism about how the Hokies, and by extension, the ACC didn't belong.
And on the BCS National Championship Game rematch, this. So, so hard.