Although ACC officials have conceded that it is possible for the Seminoles to be chosen for the more prestigious Gator Bowl despite its 4-4 record in conference play, it's not a done deal yet due to the league's one-loss rule.
ACC and Gator Bowl officials are involved in discussions about how to interpret the rule, and should Clemson lose the ACC championship game to Georgia Tech on Saturday, it could turn into a heated debate. The ACC rule states that if the Gator Bowl doesn't choose the ACC team with the best conference record, then it must choose a team within one win of that team in the conference record. If that team is the runner-up in the title game, then the Gator Bowl may pass to make another selection within one victory.
One sure way that Florida State could sneak into the Gator Bowl ahead of teams with better records is if Clemson wins the ACC championship game and Virginia Tech is chosen by the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In that particular scenario, the Gator Bowl would be under no contractual obligation to select Georgia Tech, the ACC's runner-up, and the remaining teams in the conference with the best records -- Clemson and Virginia Tech at 6-2 -- would both already have been chosen.
The Gator Bowl is required to select the runner-up at least once during the four-year contract cycle, and it fulfilled that obligation in 2006, when it chose Georgia Tech. The one-loss rule would mean that the Gator Bowl could select from the remaining 5-3 and 4-4 teams, therefore making Florida State a viable option.
Where the situation gets complicated is if Clemson loses the ACC championship game and Virginia Tech has already been selected for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In that particular scenario, Clemson, Miami and Boston College would be first in line for the Gator Bowl to select, according to the ACC's one-loss rule. Although the Gator Bowl does not have to select the ACC's runner-up this year because it took care of that contractual obligation in 2006, the ACC's one-loss rule says it would have to choose either Miami or Boston College, which both finished with 5-3 records.
Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said he has always been under the assumption that it would be possible to select Florida State, though he realizes there are some caveats. It's possible the Chick-fil-A Bowl could take the ACC runner-up, and then Catlett would have to select Virginia Tech.
"My conversation with the league office is that they're looking at it and trying to figure out what the appropriate position is on that, and whether they agree with us or they don't agree with us," said Catlett. "Quite frankly, I'm still waiting to hear from them. I am currently awaiting the ACC's interpretation of our contract and I have not received that."
Heather Dinich covers the ACC for ESPN.com.