Item: The ACC inks a long term deal with the Orange Bowl and ESPN for its football champion.
The pecking order is set.
If the ACC football champion is not a top-four team in the new (still unnamed) football playoff formula to debut following the 2014 season, it will play in the Orange Bowl against the highest remaining ranked team in the final standings from the SEC or Big Ten, after both leagues send their champions to the Sugar and Rose Bowls, respectively, or even Notre Dame if it is ranked higher than those eligible conference teams.
If the ACC winner is top-four in the national semi-finals it will simply be replaced by the next highest ranked league team.
That means there could be a scenario in the ACC Championship game in which the underdog going into the game against a top four nationally-ranked team knows that even if it loses, it may not be the ACC rep in the Orange Bowl if there is a higher-ranked team in the other division that fell just behind the top-four ranked team, but didn’t make the conference championship game.
Similarly, if the SEC or Big Ten have a team in the top-four, they send their next highest ranked team to the Sugar or Rose, essentially dropping a third choice school to the Orange Bowl, unless Notre Dame is ranked higher. The Irish are guaranteed a maximum of two appearances in the life of the contract, the SEC and Big Ten are guaranteed a minimum of three appearances each.
Overall, it’s a 12 season deal with ESPN televising the game for a reported $55M per year, another financial plus in the ‘Cuse move out of the Big East. The bowl money will be split between the ACC and SEC/Big Ten, although Notre Dame reportedly would receive much less than that amount.
Still to be determined is the rotation and number of times one of the six major bowls, of which the Orange is in the rotation with the Rose and Sugar Bowls, will host the semi-finals and championship of the new playoff.
In a season in which the Orange Bowl/Sun Life Stadium hosts the semi-finals, it will have no effect on the Orange Bowl contracted dates of Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, which would be a semi-final playoff game.
“The opportunity to partner with ESPN to showcase the game on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day provides us with a terrific way for fans to ring in the New Year in South Florida,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in announcing the deal this week.
That’s exactly the sentiment shared by the Orange program and Orange Nation as a guideline to the first dozen years in the ACC – get to Miami.