The ACC announced its bowl lineup for the 2014-19 postseasons on Thursday, finalizing partnerships with six bowls to go along with the Orange Bowl.
The league has agreements in place with the Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando), Sun Bowl (El Paso), Belk Bowl (Charlotte), Music City Bowl (Nashville), Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) and Pinstripe Bowl (New York). It also could have occasional participants in the Capital One Bowl (Orlando).
All of those bowls are six-year agreements. The ACC’s deal to send its champion to the Orange Bowl if it’s not picked for the College Football Playoff is for 12 years.
More bowl games are expected to be announced in the future. The ACC will have 15 teams in its bowl pool going forward, including Notre Dame.
The league said the new agreements will reduce ticket obligations, but it did not specify what those would be in the release.
The pecking order is as follows:
1. Orange: The league champion if it is not selected for College Football Playoff. If the Orange Bowl is hosting a national semifinal game and an ACC team is not involved, the ACC champ will play in another one of the host bowls — Chick-fil-A or Fiesta.
2. Russell Athletic Bowl: An ACC team will also play in Capital One Bowl whenever the Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team to play the ACC champion.
3-6. Sun-Belk-Pinstripe-Music City/Gator: The league will pool the teams at this selection tier to add flexibility in order to get desirable matchups, account for geography and avoid repeat trips to bowl games. In the six-year cycle, the ACC will send a team to the Music City Bowl three times and the Gator Bowl three times.
The league did not announce opponents for the bowl games, but according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, the opponents will come from these conferences: Russell Athletic (Big 12), Capital One (SEC), Belk/Music City (SEC), Sun (Pac-12) and Pinstripe (Big Ten).
McMurphy also reported the league would play the Big Ten in a new bowl game in Detroit and face a team from the American Athletic Conference in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. It could also sign partnerships with the Liberty, AdvoCare V100 and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s bowls.
Some initial thoughts on the new setup:
– The new lineup gives the chance that four ACC teams could be playing in Florida in a given postseason — Orange, Russell Athletic, Capital One, Gator. Trips to the south are always preferred.
– The fact that the Chick-fil-A is still on the table whenever the Orange is hosting a national semifinal and an ACC team isn’t in it is probably a good thing. Atlanta has been a good host site for ACC bowl games. The fact that the Fiesta is in play every now and then is something ACC fans probably will enjoy. Only one ACC team has ever played in that game — at least when in the conference at the time. (Commenter Woodbooger pointed out that FSU played Tennessee in 1999 Fiesta Bowl when it doubled as the BCS title game.)
– There’s still not a ton of New Year’s Day slots on there. The Orange Bowl will have some Dec. 31 dates and Jan. 1. The Gator traditionally has been a New Year’s Day game in addition to the Capital One. But both of those are part-time agreements.
– Losing that SEC matchup in the Chick-fil-A Bowl is rough. The new setups only accounts for a top-tier SEC opponent if the ACC gets to play in the Capital One Bowl (and who knows how often that will be?). Once you get to the Belk and Music City bowls. you’re not talking about the SEC teams everyone wants to see.
– Pooling the third through sixth bowl is probably the best idea to come out of this entire announcement. Schools seem get stuck in a certain tier of bowl games. Avoiding those repeat trips should help fans who get burned out on a certain postseason location.
What does everyone else think? Do any of these new arrangements excite you?