It's official. The ACC and the Orange Bowl have agreed to a new 12-year agreement that gives the conference a seat at the big boy table of college football. Huzzah! We won't be relegated to the little kid's table.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl Committee announced today a 12-year agreement that will annually feature the ACC Champion in the Discover Orange Bowl to be played on New Year's Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season.
As part of the new postseason college football arrangement recently announced by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, the ACC has selected the Discover Orange Bowl as its annual contract bowl partner, to serve as the home of the ACC Champion. If the ACC Champion is identified as one of the top four teams by the Bowl Championship Series selection committee, then the ACC Champion will participate in the national semifinals and a replacement team from the ACC would participate in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Going one step further, if there are two ACC teams in the national semifinals -- don't laugh -- in a year when the Orange Bowl isn't a semifinal site, then a third ACC team will represent the conference in the Orange Bowl.
Couple great things about this deal. One is the timing. With the Orange Bowl at 1 PM, the Rose Bowl at 5 PM and the Champions Bowl presumably in prime-time, college football is finally getting it right by taking back New Year's Day. Long overdue and a much needed brand overhaul for the Orange Bowl. The recent Orange Bowls played on January 3, 4 and 5 kinda sucked and were often times the only bowl game played that night. Now the bowl can kick off a great day of college football and if it's a dud, well, you have two more chances to watch a great game on January 1.
The other is the financial benefits. The conference will shop the TV media rights around to the highest bidder, hopefully creating a financial windfall for the conference. It might not be Rose Bowl / Champions Bowl-type money, but the added revenue will still be significant. The ACC should be able to keep 50 percent of the revenue generated from the bowl game, which isn't an insignificant sum.
In an interesting twist, if a network lands the Orange Bowl, that network would retain the TV rights to the national semifinals played in Miami even if the college football playoff media rights ends up in the hands of another network.
As for the opponent, that's still to be determined. Swofford is open to hosting a conference, multiple conferences or Notre Dame, specifically. The opponent will likely be selected out of the pool of at-large "BCS" teams and, if I was a betting man, will include Notre Dame on the reg. The good news is that it doesn't sound like the Big East will be extended an "don't call it an auto-bid" auto-bid. Sad panda.
Other details yet to be ironed out, other than the opponent, include how to select the ACC representative should the ACC champion make the national semifinals. It could be the ACC championship game runner-up or it could be the next highest ranked team. It'll be up to the conference and the bowl to determine how the selection process works. I'd imagine BC fans would prefer the on-field approach to selecting an alternate Orange Bowl rep to using the rankings. To me, it seems that using the rankings would only lead to new ways of screwing non-traditional powers like the Eagles. See also: the conference's "BC rule" after sending the Eagles to Boise the year before.
The only downside to this agreement is with each passing day, college football's new world order is looking more and more like the old world. The PAC-12, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and ACC all now have "auto-bids" to the Big Six bowls (and I'm sure Notre Dame will have a seat at the table too, when it's all said and done). The only difference is two more "BCS" games, two more major bowl games and the Big East and everyone else cut out of the process.
If the whole point of a college football playoff was to be more inclusive, the end result is the exact opposite. The new world order cuts out the little guys, making it even more difficult for anyone outside of the power five conferences to get selected for the Final Four. Isn't this the thing that got the sport in trouble in the first place?