Item: The ACC and Orange Bowl sign a 12-year deal, commencing after the 2014 season. It guarantees an ACC team plays in the heritage bowl game in Miami Gardens on Jan. 1 each season.
The most telling element to come out of this week’s announcement that as the ACC has become the fifth major conference to align itself with one of the six major bowl game properties (Semi-Final-1, Semi-Final-2, Orange, Rose, Champions, and TBD) is that long term security trumps some seasons here and there in which the Orange Bowl game will be just another bowl game matchup of non-national title contenders.
Those six major bowls expect to be among the rotating hosts for the semi-final round of the new four team playoff to determine a national champion. Make no mistake, the ACC is guaranteed at least one team among the top six bowl games (12 total slots) under the new formula, something that the soon-to-be-left-behind Big East cannot claim.
In a best case scenario, for example, if one season the ACC happened to have one of the top four teams, then the number two ACC team would still be in a top six bowl game. The top four ranked ACC team in the national playoff semi-final, next in line to the Orange Bowl.
On the flip-slide, seasons in which the ACC champion is the league’s highest ranked team and doesn’t crack the top four and the Orange Bowl isn’t hosting a semi-final game, there could be a not-so-exciting Orange Bowl matchup against another power conference’s second or third place team, or potentially even a Notre Dame presuming they stay independent.
But it’s still among the top 12 slots.
The other good news is that the ACC and bowl game committee will put the TV rights up for bid, controlling the parameters of the deal including a guaranteed 1:00 pm ET kickoff on Jan. 1. It brings three of the six major games back to New Year’s Day each year (Rose and Champions bowls would follow), something college football needed to do to take back that day.
So, the path is laid out for the ‘Cuse football program circa 2013 and moving forward. Win the ACC’s Atlantic Division, meet the Coastal Division winner in the conference championship game, win and advance to a top six bowl game, guaranteed.
If only it were that simple.