Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Headlines: Possible Bowl Shakeup Rearranges ACC Opponents

Brian: On Friday, it was reported that the Champs Sports Bowl is in discussions with the Big East to bring the No. 2 team from the conference to Orlando. As part of this deal, a provision would also be put in place where Notre Dame could be taken one time in a four year period. The Champs Sports Bowl currently pairs the No. 4 or No. 5 Big Ten team against the No. 4 ACC program. If this goes through, the Champs Sports Bowl would be sort of a mini-Orange Bowl, pairing the second pick of the Big East (or Notre Dame) with the ACC's no. 4 pick in Florida.

With this arrangement, it sounds like the Gator Bowl will be ditching their hybrid affiliation with the Big XII, Notre Dame, and the Big East, and would instead pick up the Big Ten's number 4 or 5 pick.

Not following? Here are the changes with respect to the ACC's potential bowl opponents:

2PeachAtlantaSEC #3/4/5SEC #3/4/5
3GatorJacksonvilleBig East #2 OR Big XII #3 OR NDBig Ten #4/5
OrlandoBig Ten #4/5Big East #2 OR ND
5Music CityNashvilleSEC #6/7/8SEC #6/7/8
CharlotteBig East #4Big East #4
Pac-10 #4/5Pac-10 #4/5

This opens up the possibility of the Irish and Eagles meeting in a bowl game, with would certainly be welcomed by Eagles fans considering that the Irish are not renewing their contract with BC past 2010 at this time. The possibility of an Irish vs. Eagles bowl game previously existed but only if the planets aligned and both BC and Notre Dame found themselves in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Given the Eagles history with the city of Jacksonville, I would say this was VERY unlikely.

Jeff, you like this move by the Champs Sports Bowl?

Jeff: Love it, love it, love it!!! Well, let me qualify that first. I will love it assuming that the Gator Bowl reaches an agreement with the Big Ten to be slightly higher on the bowl pecking order than the Champs Bowl was. The Champs Sports Bowl is getting better by now having either a 10 win Big East team or Notre Dame play the ACC representative annually. This is a huge step up from an unranked Big Ten team that was never going to be Penn State, Michigan or Ohio State.

Meanwhile, the Gator Bowl will presumably put itself in a position to have a good shot at getting Michigan, Penn State or Ohio State each year and if they don't, should at least get a Big Ten team that either is in the top 25 or has been for a good chunk of the season. Over the past few years where BC has been considered for the Gator Bowl and in contention for the Orange Bowl berth at the same time, my best case scenario was to land in Atlanta playing an SEC opponent rather than heading to Miami or Jacksonville to play a "you're supposed to beat them" Big East team. Now two of the ACC's top three bowls won't be against a Big East opponent which is a great, great thing for the ACC and its fans.

Brian: I'm not so high on this bowl shakeup as you are. I do agree that the Gator Bowl arrangement is much better for the ACC as this clears up any ambiguity that Jacksonville previously had with the selection of the ACC team's opponent. It was never clear whether the Gator Bowl would take a Big XII team, a Big East team or Notre Dame, and pairing itself with the Big Ten helps alleviate any confusion. Also as you alluded to Jeff, there is a much better possibility that the Big Ten will send one of their top 3 teams, especially if the Big Ten keeps placing a second program in one of the BCS at-large berths (as they've done for each of the last four years).

In addition, with the Champs Sports Bowl adding the second best team from the Big East, this could give Boston College more of a fighter's chance at landing one of these top bowl slots. The Eagles getting passed over by the top ACC bowls is well chronicled, but a matchup between BC and one of its former Big East rivals - say West Virginia, Pittsburgh or Rutgers, or even Notre Dame - becomes much more appealing to Orlando as the city's second bowl matchup.

One thing that does bother me though is that the ACC now has three bowl tie-ins directly with the Big East. Aside from the Big East champion, I'm not sold that in any given year there will be two other quality Big East opponents that I'd want to see in the Champs Sports and Meineke Car Care bowls. Quality programs in the Big East bottom out quick, and after the historical cream of the crop - Pittsburgh, West Virginia, (once) Syracuse - there seems to be a lot of 'meh' opponents out there, including Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville.

That's 3 bowl tie-ins with the Big East, 2 with the SEC, 1 with the Big Ten, 1 with the Pac-10, and 2 throw-away matchups. Although the hybrid arrangement that the Gator Bowl had was confusing as anything, it did pose the possibility of the ACC playing a historically significant Big XII team. The last two years the ACC faced Texas Tech and Nebraska. With this new arrangement, the ACC and Big XII won't meet unless the stars align and it's in one of the BCS bowls. That is a shame.

The big winner in this whole shakeup is the Big Ten, who would now have the possibility of playing in four of the five bowl games on New Year's Day. Playing in a January bowl clearly doesn't carry the same weight as it used to, but the Big Ten would be gaining one more post-December bowl date at the expense of the Big East.

Love the new bowl lineup for BC and the ACC? Hate it? Thoughts?

1 comment:

conlonc said...

Technically that would only be 2 BE direct tie-ins. The Orange Bowl has no guaranteed tie-in with the BE. In fact, this year it probably won't be a BE team because as I understand it, the OB has the first at-large choice. So unless it would clearly be beneficial to take the BE champ (say if it's USF), then they'll definitely consider other at-large choices when deciding.

Here are the guaranteed tie-ins:

Rose Bowl - Big Ten champ vs. Pac-10 champ
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 champ
Orange Bowl - ACC champ
Sugar Bowl - SEC champ