There are still several questions the ACC must answer as it moves forward with its 12-year partnership with the Orange Bowl, namely who the opponent will be, who will get the TV rights, and how the ACC will choose its Orange Bowl rep if the league champion is playing in the new four-team playoff. I spoke with ACC commissioner John Swofford this afternoon to ask him those questions:
In your mind, who would be the ideal opponents for the ACC?
John Swofford: I think it could go several different directions as we talk through this. Anything specific I would say would be premature. One thing is certain, and that is, we will end up with a quality opponent on a prestigious day in a terrific bowl.
Would you go so far as to say which conference or conferences you would like to align with?
JS: It could be a conference, it could be multiple conferences, it could be considerably broader than that. We’ll just have to see as we continue the discussions on the possibilities.
What about specifically Notre Dame? Is that a possibility?
JS: I think it’s likely Notre Dame could be involved in the mix.
How much revenue do you think you could possibly generate from this?
JS: It’s hard to tell until we go to the marketplace, but it certainly has excellent value, as does the entire system that has been developed. One of the real pluses here for the ACC from a financial standpoint is that this game is a contract game, and therefore the revenue from it will largely benefit the ACC.
What does this do to solidify the stability of the conference moving forward?
JS: I think the stability has been there. This just accentuates that stability and it accentuates the strength of the conference as a selection of schools. It accentuates the potential our programs have.
How does the four-team playoff change this game for the ACC, if it does at all?
JS: I think the pluses systemically is that for our league, just like any other league at the FBS level, if we have a team or teams that are good enough and rated highly enough, our access to the national championship picture is equal to anyone else’s. Beyond that, it gives our champion an opportunity to play on New Year’s Day in a great location and a terrific bowl. If we have one team that goes to the semifinals as our champion, then a second ACC team will go to the Orange Bowl. If there are any years where we have two teams in the semifinals, then a third ACC team goes to the Orange Bowl. Being able to put a stake in the ground on New Year’s Day in the Orange Bowl and have our own contract game is a tremendous plus for our league.
How will a selection committee or polls and rankings factor into this for the ACC?
JS: It starts with our champion in terms of the Orange Bowl itself. If our champion is not in the top four, they’re in the Orange Bowl. If they are, then it’s up to the ACC and the bowl to determine which team other than our champion will play in the Orange Bowl that particular year. We’ll need to have a conversation about how that team is selected. It could be the next-highest rated team. It could be the loser of the championship game. We haven’t made that determination yet. I’d say it’s likely to be the highest-rated team, but we have some discussing to do about that.
So it’s not accurate to say it’s going to be the runner-up of the ACC title game?
JS: Not necessarily.