On the heels of last week’s landmark announcement that college football will move to a four-team playoff to decide its national champion beginning in the 2014-15 season, the ACC announced a concurrent 12-year agreement with the Orange Bowl on Tuesday.
As part of college football’s new postseason format, the ACC has chosen the Orange Bowl to be its annual contract bowl partner, and in most seasons it will serve as host to the conference’s champion. The league also anticipates the Orange Bowl to be one of six bowls that will rotate hosting semifinal games when the four-team playoff is put in place for the 2014-15 season.
The Rose Bowl (Pacific-12 and Big Ten) and the recently formed Champions Bowl (SEC and Big 12) already have agreements with other leagues and are also expected to be part of the semifinal rotation. In its release touting the new contract, the ACC indicated it expected the Orange Bowl to host semifinal games “at least four times” during the 12-year term the BCS presidential oversight committee agreed to last week during a meeting in Washington.
The contract should be advantageous to the ACC, even during seasons when the Orange Bowl hosts a semifinal game. If the ACC champion is not chosen as one of the top four teams in the country those years, the selection committee established by the BCS presidents last week would place that team in one of the other bowls in the playoff rotation that isn’t hosting a semifinal that season.
If the ACC champion is part of the four-team playoff during a season in which the Orange Bowl isn’t hosting a semifinal, a replacement ACC team would represent the league in the Orange Bowl. Last year, Virginia Tech was given an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl, the first time the ACC had two teams in BCS bowl games.
Not only has the ACC secured a prominent bowl spot, but it also may see a financial windfall. According to an ACC spokeswoman, the new contract could net the ACC a significant financial haul because the league now controls the broadcast rights, and therefore plans to take it to the marketplace in the future.
The Orange Bowl will be played every year on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m., beginning in 2014-15. In recent years, schools participating in the Orange Bowl had struggled to sell their ticket allotments with games scheduled on weeknights after the New Year’s holiday for television purposes, a caveat that forced many fans to take extra days off of work and pull their children from school.
Two years ago, when Virginia Tech faced Stanford in the Orange Bowl, the Hokies managed to sell only 6,500 of its 17,500-ticket allotment. In 2008, Virginia Tech sold just more than 3,300 tickets when it played Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.
Details on the ACC’s yearly opponent in the Orange Bowl are “forthcoming,” according to the league. Some have speculated Notre Dame could be added as a potential tie-in for the Orange Bowl – if the Fighting Irish met certain criteria during a given season – but ACC Commissioner John Swofford declined to comment on that possibility when asked about it last week in Washington.
“The ACC and Discover Orange Bowl have a terrific relationship and, as we look ahead to the future of postseason college football, this will further an already beneficial partnership for both organizations,” Swofford said in a statement. “The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day.”