The Orange Bowl Issue
A few months ago, the SEC and Big XII announced a Championship Bowl that would add another pile of money to those conferences’ already large piles of money. Many saw this as a sign that the ACC was relegated to second tier status as a football conference (or 19th tier, if you are a Florida State fan and looking for excuses for why the team cannot win 10 games anymore). Some time later, the ACC announced that it had extended its relationship with the Orange Bowl AND earned the right to take the TV revenue from that game. On the heels of that, the Confidential noted that Notre Dame would likely be a partner with the ACC in the Orange Bowl (here) or perhaps more. Well, with the news of the ND/ACC partnership, left under-discussed was this tweet from Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick: “We are on track to participate in other side of the Orange Bowl along with SEC & Big Ten. Details to follow.”
This is huge news for the ACC. Granted, the SEC or Big 10 opponent would be a #3 or #4 level opponent, but these are outstanding matchups. With all the SEC power teams, the Orange Bowl would feature an outstanding matchup from a regional basis. If it is a Big 10 school, Miami becomes a great vacation destination. The Orange Bowl could see a Florida State-Nebraska game. Of course, if both programs return to their 1990s days, they would be playing that game in the playoffs. But assuming those teams are 9-10 win teams, that would be a great TV matchup, meaning more revenue for the ACC. Needless to say, Notre Dame being an option is also very lucrative from a TV standpoint. While the potential for a rematch is always there, with ND playing only 5 games, that is far from a certainty. This, of course, is why the Orange Bowl would have the flexibility to go the B1G or SEC route.
One has to note the absence of a comment by Swarbrick regarding a Big East relationship with the Orange Bowl. Maybe that was an oversight. Or maybe the Orange Bowl wants nothing to do with the Big East programs. While Louisville would probably be a good fit, as well as South Florida or Central Florida for geographic reasons, it is doubtful that an ACC-Big East matchup involving those schools would move the TV dial. And Boise State is just too far away from Miami to think that there would be a large crowd.
In any event, ACC fans will have to continue to monitor this Orange Bowl situation. Like the TV contract, the Orange Bowl is about ACC revenue. The more, the better.
UPDATE: Frank the Tank is FAR more optimistic that the Orange Bowl opponent will be a high-quality SEC or B1G opponent, with the arrangement being one of timing:
The upshot of this would be that ACC #1 will be playing either Big Ten #1, SEC #1 or a highly-ranked Notre Dame team in the Orange Bowl in any given year, which will likely yield a media rights payout for the ACC that will be in line with what the Big Ten and Pac-12 are receiving for the Rose Bowl and the SEC and Big 12 are receiving for the Champions Bowl. Thus, any chicken little beliefs that the ACC is going to end up playing subpar opponents in the Orange Bowl are going to go by the wayside.
If so, the Confidential was way off in suggesting that it would be a #3 or #4 conference representative in the Orange Bowl. All in all, with the exception of the TV revenue flowing from the ESPN deal, ACC leadership has really rallied quite well.