- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Immediately following the announcement of the ACC's continued partnership with the Orange Bowl, an assistant coach in the ACC sent me a text message that read: "Orange Bowl lockin Great 4 Recruiting!!!! Thank u Swofford!!!"
ACC fans should feel free to thank the commissioner, too.
For those of you who were fretting over the future of the conference -- and for the naysayers who deemed the ACC on life support following the announcement of the Champions Bowl -- this 12-year agreement should underscore and reinforce everything the folks in Greensboro have been trying to tell you for months: The ACC is stable. It might be the fifth best conference in the country right now, but it is still one of the best. And it's not the Big East.
The Orange Bowl will feature the ACC on New Year's Day -- where college football should be -- and it will also likely host at least four semifinal games in the new playoff system. If the ACC champ also happens to be one of the four best teams in the country and competes in the playoff, even better: The league will have another deserving team in the New Year's Day spotlight. It's a similar arrangement to what the ACC currently has with the Orange Bowl.
Based on what ACC commissioner John Swofford said at the recent BCS meetings in Washington, D.C., this announcement shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The Orange Bowl has been a great partner for the conference, and there have been no indications of that changing. What needs to change is the opponent. Notre Dame could be an option. If the Irish don't qualify, the ACC should seek some sort of combination between the SEC and Big Ten as a backup.
Now that the ACC has made this announcement, the Big East is officially on the outside looking in, as its conference champ no longer has a guaranteed home for the postseason. The ACC, though, has assured its champion of a major bowl. Swofford deserves credit for that, and the longevity of this contract should leave ACC fans confident in the stability of the league moving forward.
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