|Breaking down the new Orange Bowl agreement and what it means for ACC|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 3:03 PM||
The great American writer Mark Twain, battling rumors of his own early death, once told an inquiring newspaper journalist that the “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference can say the same thing.
Left for dead just a little over a month ago after the announcement of a bowl agreement between the SEC and the Big 12 – with many saying that the announcement signaled the end of the ACC as a power conference – the conference has proven in the past few weeks that it is indeed alive and well.
It began with the announcement of a four-team playoff by the ruling powers two weeks ago – a process that will clearly include an ACC team if they qualify or play well enough – and continued with Tuesday’s announcement that the ACC has selected the Discover Orange Bowl as its annual contract bowl partner, to serve as the home of the ACC Champion.
As part of the agreement, if the ACC Champion is identified as one of the top four teams by the Bowl Championship Series selection committee, then the ACC Champion will participate in the national semifinals and a replacement team from the ACC would participate in the Discover Orange Bowl.
However, there is more to it than meets the eye. I spoke with league sources in Greensboro who tell me that the Atlantic Coast Conference now controls the rights to the Orange Bowl and will take that game to market, meaning the conference now has the ability to sell the game to the highest bidder, whether that is ESPN, CBS or Fox Sports.
What does that mean? The Orange Bowl signed over the rights to the bowl game to the BCS when the BCS took over, and the BCS then dispersed the money to the bowl, which then trickled down to the conference and the individual schools. In the new format, the Atlantic Coast Conference now owns those rights, and the revenue stream cuts out the middle man. Last season, the conference received $22 million to disperse to the member institutions.
That ability to sell the Orange Bowl broadcast rights on the open market adds a game-changing revenue stream for the league, and one would think it effectively puts to the rest all of the talk about a move by Clemson or Florida State to the Big 12.
Guidestar, the nonprofit database, reported in 2009 that the Orange Bowl Committee had total revenue of about 41 million dollars, and you have to figure that number has grown in the past three years. A quick search of the Orange Bowl’s 2009 tax return also showed a revenue base of $41 million – not chump change by any means.
Also, the new contract ensures that the league will now be guaranteed of having at least one team in the top tier of postseason games every year. It also provides for a second ACC team to fill the league’s Orange Bowl slot should the conference champion be selected to take part in the new four-team college football playoff scheduled to debut in 2014.
In the years in which the Orange Bowl is designated to host one of the two national semifinal games, the ACC champion – if not selected to play in one of the semifinals – will shift over to the Rose, the Champions or one of the three other “premium” bowls in the new playoff rotation.
Even better – and unlikely at this point – is the fact that if two ACC teams were to make the four-team playoff, a team deemed as the third team in the conference would then play in the Orange Bowl. For instance, if two ACC teams were undefeated at the time of the ACC Championship Game, the loser could also be chosen as part of the new four-team playoff. In that case, an ACC team that finished second in their division would be chosen to play in the Orange Bowl.
For those of us who were a part of the midweek game last January – and the low attendance caused by a midweek game following the holidays – it was good to learn that the new agreement allows for the Orange Bowl to move back to its traditional New Year’s Day date. The game will be played at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 starting in 2014, a change that will hopefully boost attendance and television ratings.
I asked the league source about potential opponents, and I was told that the opponent announcement will be forthcoming, but what is known is that the opponent could be from a small pool of potential opponents, and will be “very attractive.”
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