ACC: 120627 BCS reaction

ACC and the Orange Bowl

June, 27, 2012
Under the new four-team playoff format, there will be a total of six major bowls, two of which we already know about: the Champions Bowl (Big 12-SEC) and the Rose Bowl (Pac-12, Big Ten). The ACC is expected to announce its future bowl partner "in the very near future," according to commissioner John Swofford, but it's likely to remain with the Orange Bowl.

"We've got a great relationship with the Orange Bowl, and there's a lot of prestige in that game," Swofford said. "We'll probably have something on that in the very near future."

The bigger question is who the opponent will be.

Notre Dame gets my vote. It's time to scrap the Big East and partner up with the Irish. Matchups between FSU and Notre Dame, Miami and Notre Dame -- heck, even Boston College and Notre Dame -- have great history and tradition. So does the Orange Bowl. If Notre Dame doesn't qualify, the ACC should have the SEC and/or the Big Ten as backups. That would guarantee ACC fans an entertaining matchup every season.

As it turns out (I'm not one to say I told you so), the formation of the Champions Bowl was hardly the "death" of the ACC. This is an exciting time for the conference to re-evaluate its postseason partners, but the Orange Bowl makes the most sense for the league because of both its history and location.

Swofford told me on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that the new playoff format will open up a few more options for the ACC in looking at its bowl partners for the future.

"We feel very good about the partners we now have, but that landscape will change some now, particularly with six bowls being in the system going forward," he said. "Where those bowls come from, they'll be assigned teams that are generally ranked in the top 12 or so. That will change the landscape, particularly for the bowls that were just below the current BCS level. Some of the bowls will need to make some decisions from their perspective as to whether they want to bid to become an access bowl, or continue to have tie-ins with particular conferences. That remains to be seen."
A new era of college football has begun, but for the ACC, the task remains the same: Win big or go home. On Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., the presidential oversight committee approved a four-team playoff proposal that will go into effect for the 2014 season.

Will any ACC teams be in contention to play in the first national semifinals in January 2015? Will the conference benefit from the new format?

By having the top four teams instead of the top two, the ACC’s chances will automatically increase, but so will everyone else’s. And if a selection committee gets the final word, there’s no telling how the perception of the conference will factor into the process. Those who have been paying attention to the league, though, should see it is getting stronger. The recruiting has been going well, particularly for Florida State and Clemson, but also at schools like Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina.

The bottom line, though, is this: Even the ACC’s best team hasn’t been good enough.

Since Virginia Tech joined the ACC for the 2004 season, coach Frank Beamer has compiled a record of 84-24 (.778), the highest winning percentage in league history. During that time, the Hokies have won four ACC championships (2004, 2007, 2008, 2010) and had 10 or more wins in each of the past eight seasons, the only school in the nation to have done so.

Yet the Hokies have finished in the top five of the final BCS standings once since joining the league.

If you look back at the history of the final BCS standings, the ACC has had two teams finish in the top five: No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2) in 2007, and No. 2 Florida State in 2000. Miami and Virginia Tech were also top-five teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but that was before they joined the ACC.

It doesn’t matter what system college football decides on. In order for the ACC to stand a chance at playing for the national title, it needs to produce more undefeated and/or one-loss teams. Here’s a look back at the ACC’s top finishers in the final BCS standings under the current system:

2011: No. 11 Virginia Tech (11-2)

2010: No. 13 Virginia Tech (11-2)

2009: No. 9 Georgia Tech (11-2)

2008: No. 14 Georgia Tech (9-3)

2007: No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2)

2006: No. 14 Wake Forest (11-2)

2005: No. 8 Miami (9-2)

2004: No. 8 Virginia Tech (10-2)

2003: No. 7 Florida State (10-2)

2002: No. 14 Florida State (9-4) (No. 1 Miami)

2001: No. 10 Maryland (10-1) (No. 1 Miami)

2000: No. 2 Florida State (11-1) (No. 3 Miami, No. 5 Virginia Tech)

I know, I know … 2000 would have been a great year for the ACC. If it happened once, it can happen again, right?


The problem with the ACC’s history in the BCS is that you have to go back to Maryland in 2001 to find the last one-loss team. The ACC has gone an entire decade without producing a one-loss team heading into the bowl season. According to David Teel at the Daily Press, the SEC has had 12 undefeated or one-loss teams during that span, the Big Ten has had 11, and the Pac-12 and Big 12 followed with 10 each.

A four-team playoff isn’t going to change that, but maybe Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson can.