ACC Comes Out on Top in Playoff Format
By Brandon Rink
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The new four-team playoff format in college football could pay huge dividends for the ACC.
Out is the BCS, and in is the four-team seeded playoff.
Looking at what it means for the ACC…
1) Shot at a national title doubled…in theory
This is the obvious but, to some, not-so-obvious part of the whole deal.
Basically, the ACC, which has only come close to placing a team in the BCS Championship once recently (Virginia Tech, 2007), now doesn’t have to crack the top-two, but rather, the top-four, for a shot at being the nation’s best.
Is a four-team playoff the best scenario for the conference? No – but we’re talking about the national championship here. It should be for elite teams, and the ACC’s best has been anything but of late.
The 2011 ACC divisional winners, with elite finishes, would have certainly been a part of a retroactive four-team tourney.
All Virginia Tech needed was a win over those pesky Tigers in Charlotte and they would’ve made it. After starting unranked, Clemson was fifthin the BCS rankings by late October, before losing three of four into the ACC Championship Game.
All the talk of ACC teams "just needing to win” can sound like hollow politicking, but to a certain extent, it’s true.
2) Secured “major” conference status until 2026
For the last month or so, the ACC’s status in the upcoming playoff era was, depending on who you listened to, in danger.
When the SEC and Big 12 announced their Champions Bowl, hysteria reigned, as four conferences (those two plus the Big 10 and Pac-12) had pulled away from the crowd.
But then slowly, those conferences that had supposedly broken off from the rest – began talking up the “Big Five” alliance, kicking the Big East out (Boise State added and all) and treating the ACC pretty much like one…of…them.
And Tuesday’s announcement and the news around it secured the ACC’s seat the table.
John Swofford confirmed the ACC has secured a major bowl slot, which is reportedly the friendly confines of the Orange Bowl, likely facing an at-large team.
Yet to be determined in all of this is the ACC’s cut of revenue from the deal, which could obviously sour the “Big Five” idea if it’s less/significantly less than its brethren, but at least symbolically, Swofford has kept the conference in the picture.
I’m not saying the ACC has played like a “major” conference on the big stage. I mean – I was in the pressbox at this past January’s Orange Bowl. Saw the whole thing.
But it’s not me or you determining the ACC’s role in the playoff age – somehow, they’re in the mix and maybe by the next round of negotiations (in the 2020's), the conference will actually be more worthy of the “major” designation.
3) Reset button on the big bowl record?
The BCS is dead (come 2014), and so is this phrase (with updated record): “The ACC is 2-13 in BCS bowls.”
There are no more “BCS” bowls, but with the same folks in power, the former power bowls plus a couple more (crossing fingers for the Chick-Fil-A’s spot), are still in place.
It’s a fresh start in a way, and with teams like Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech stockpiling talent on the recruiting trail lately – that win percentage could be turning around soon.
Oh, and Clemson and FSU – they’re still in the ACC if I’m not mistaken, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.