Item: The ACC announces diverse bowl partnerships for eight of its 14 football schools.
It’s the key question right off the bat. Where will the Orange football program fit in the ACC in year one?
Coming off the spring game Saturday and heading into summer workouts and August camp, we’ll begin to find out if SU is good enough in Scott Shafer’s maiden season running the show to lasso one of the eight secured conference bowl tie-ins for 2013.
The ACC championship game winner moves on to the BCS and is the host school of the Orange Bowl unless it is ranked #1 or #2 and is playing in the BCS title game.
The second choice, not necessarily the championship game loser and if not selected for a BCS game and other ‘fine print’ details, plays New Year’s Eve in Atlanta against the SEC in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The third and fifth ACC selections will meet up against the new AAC (American Athletic Conference), formally the Big East football confederation, in the Russell Bowl in Orlando and Belk Bowl in Charlotte, respectively.
In the final year of a four-game arrangement, the fourth ACC selection faces a Pac 12 opponent in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, a stadium situated a half mile as a bird flies from the dangerous Mexican border town of Juarez. So dangerous, in fact, with years of drug gang-related violence, official bowl game entourages do not cross the border during their stay.
Two ACC bowls down the list are at stadiums Syracuse has previous bowl victories; the Music City game at LP Field in Nashville against a SEC foe where SU beat Kentucky in 1999, and the Advocare V100 Bowl in Shreveport’s Independence Stadium, site of the Orangemen’s 1979 Independence Bowl victory over McNeese State, Frank Maloney’s only bowl appearance in his seven years as head coach.
The eighth and final post-season tie-in is the Military Bowl at what the bowl website describes as “historic” (read outdated) RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., this year against a Big 12 opponent, and please, no calls for another rematch with West Virginia, obviously assuming the ‘Cuse doesn’t finish higher in the standings this fall by riding last season’s late-year and bowl game momentum, and at worst cracks the six win mark against a pretty tough schedule of essentially seven teams (Penn State on NCAA sanctions) that made bowl games last season.
A pretty tall challenge for the rookie head coach and company.