College football fans are the most passionate sports fans in the nation. They’re engrossed in the emerging details of the new College Football Playoff, which is still nearly two years away. As its ramifications to the bowl system unfold, changes for ACC become clear, some good and some bad. Let’s start with the latter.
Although ESPN acted as if ACC fans should be flattered that the Chick-fil-A Bowl was chosen as one of the six rotating bowl games in the College Football Playoff, we’ve lost our best bowl game. From ESPN:
There’s more good news for the ACC.
The BCS conference commissioners on Wednesday selected the Chick-fil-A Bowl, a longtime member of the ACC’s bowl lineup, as one of an elite group of six bowl games to host the new College Football Playoff.
A different ESPN article puts it more appropriately:
The conference needs to find a replacement for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which will join the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls as the hosts for the new playoff structure that will begin following the 2014 college football season.
So just like that, the ACC loses their marquee non-BCS bowl. Some of my early memories as a Clemson fan are from the 2003 Peach Bowl against Tennessee and the first bowl game I ever attended was the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Auburn. I loathe losing our affiliation with such a rich historic bowl.
#ACC loses Chick-fil-A Bowl as it’s No. 2 bowl (behind Orange) as Chick is one of 6 bowls designated for new college football playoff. #UVa
— Jerry Ratcliffe (@JerryRatcliffe) April 25, 2013
The ACC also adds three schools to the bowl lineup (Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh were all in bowl games in 2012) and upgrades from Maryland to Louisville so improving the bowl lineup is critical.
Should an ACC team make the College Football Playoff in a year when the “Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl,” as it will again be called, is a host, they would most likely end up in Atlanta–a consolation to losing the bowl tie-in. For most ACC fans, this would make for a much easier trip than New Orleans, Glendale, Los Angeles, Dallas, or Miami, the other rotating playoff sites. It seems plausible that SEC and ACC teams will generally be given preference by the selection committee in other years as well.
With 15 teams sharing the bowl lineup, the ACC is looking to get to nine or even 10 bowl tie-ins. As I wrote back in December (of 2012), the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played in Yankee Stadium would be an appropriate fit. It now appears that the bowl will be added to the lineup. It would feature an ACC v. Big 10 matchup, something the bowl season currently lacks.
More importantly, it looks like the ACC will get the Gator Bowl back. A tip of the cap to Notre Dame for that addition. As I wrote back in December:
Part of the reason they [the Gator Bowl] abandoned their affiliation with the Big East was due to restrictions on how often they could select Notre Dame. Such restrictions don’t apply in the ACC’s agreement and matchups like Northwestern v. Mississippi State aren’t impressing anyone.
In years that the Big 10 sends a team to the Orange Bowl, which figures to be at least half the time, the ACC will take their spot in the Capital One Bowl, the highest paying non-BCS bowl in the current system. Agreements with the Gator, Capital One, and Pinstripe bowls are not yet finalized.
Additionally, it looks like the ACC will hang on to the Russell Athletic (Formerly Champ Sports), Music City, and Belk bowls, with the Belk working on upgrading the ACC’s opponent to an SEC foe. Assuming an Atlantic Coast Conference team isn’t in the four-team-playoff and the Big 10 sends a member to the Orange Bowl the ACC bowl lineup would look something like this, give or take:
Orange: ACC Champion (vs. Big 10 or Notre Dame)
Capital One: ACC #2 (If Orange Bowl Invites Big 10 member)
Russell Athletic: ACC #3
Gator: ACC #4*
Sun Bowl: ACC #4* (or ACC Championship Game runner-up)
Belk: ACC #4*
Music City: ACC #4*
Pinstripe: ACC ##4* (indicated they will favor local schools)
Independence: ACC #9
Military: ACC #10
Update: Recent articles are indicating that the Gator, Sun, Belk, Music City, and Pinstripe would share a selection slot, I would imagine on a rotating basis.
That’s not too shabby. They’ve wisely structured it so either Notre Dame plays in the Orange Bowl and the Capital One is taken by the Big 10 or Notre Dame shares in the ACC Bowl line-up and the Capital One goes to an ACC member while the Orange Bowl pits a Big 10 team against the ACC Champion (the second ACC vs. Big 10 matchup of the bowl season).
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It appears that the ACC has made their pact with the Pinstripe Bowl (vs. Big 10) official.
The Music City Bowl, however, may sever ties with the ACC in favor of a SEC v. Big 10 matchup.