By David Teel
4:56 PM EDT, July 31, 2012
The Orange Bowl has yet to unveil the teams it will consider to face the ACC champion in the 2014 season and beyond, but based on past conversations, and my Twitter feed Tuesday, fans in these parts adamantly oppose Big East involvement.
Tuesday’s objections came when Nick Carparelli, a Big East associate commissioner, told ESPN that the Orange might include the Big East winner in its pool of opponents for the ACC champ.
I doubt that happens. The Orange Bowl and ACC have started conversations with other potential partners, and absent a successor to former commissioner John Marinatto, the Big East has a leadership vacuum.
Even if the Big East is included, its champion would have to be ranked far ahead of any other available teams.
No offense to the Big East. It’s a conference replete with tradition —basketball, football and Olympic sports — and quality people.
But after a flurry of departures — Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Texas Christian — the Big East lacks the marquee programs a New Year’s Day bowl such as the Orange needs to fill seats and fuel television ratings.
Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida? Cincinnati, Connecticut and Boise State?
Several have had their moments, especially Boise State, as Oklahoma, Georgia and Virginia Tech, among others, can attest. But collectively, with college football reconfiguring postseason for 2014-25, the Big East’s 12-team alignment does not inspire and is more likely to create a separate bowl home for its champion.
The ACC, of course, has its own football issues.
Former dynasties Miami and Florida State have faded considerably. Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles appear to be regaining traction, but there’s no telling how harsh the NCAA’s sanctions of the Hurricanes will be for the Evan Shapiro mess.
Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games for eight consecutive seasons, and Clemson is fresh off its first league championship in 20 years, assets both. But the ACC, from top to bottom, continues to fall short against quality non-conference opponents.
Still, the Orange Bowl renewed ties with the ACC for 12 years, and the mission now is to craft the best available pool of opponents. That pool, by the way, will help determine how much ESPN, NBC or Fox is willing to pay for broadcast rights.
According to the Sports Business Journal, ESPN is ponying up $80 million each per year for the Rose Bowl and so-called Champions Bowl, a partnership between the Southeastern Conference and Big 12. The Orange won’t fetch as much, but the more attractive the potential matchup, the closer the Orange will get.
Which opponents/conferences would sell the most tickets and attract the most eyeballs?
When not otherwise obligated to the playoff semifinals, the answer is a combination of non-champions from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, and Notre Dame.
The SEC’s staggering run of national championships — six straight and counting — will end, but the league will remain a force. The Big Ten’s Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska are reliable draws. As the Big Eight from the 1950s-1990s, the Big 12 champion called the Orange Bowl home.
Recent (and future?) struggles notwithstanding, Notre Dame would enhance the Orange Bowl mix. Not to take when the Fighting Irish are pedestrian, but when they win at least nine regular-season games.
Are all of the aforementioned parties — SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Notre Dame — interested in joining with the Orange Bowl and ACC? If the money is right, one would think.
For example, outside the BCS, the most lucrative bowl is the Capital One, which pairs the Big Ten and SEC in Orlando, Fla., and pays $4.5 million per team. The Orange should be worth exponentially more.
Would a three-loss Notre Dame or Ohio State be more attractive to the Orange Bowl and the ACC than a once-beaten, or even undefeated, Big East champion? If the Big East team was top-10 caliber?
Absent national stakes, and 99 times out of 100, absolutely.
That’s the way of the bowl world, and that’s why the Big East is unlikely to land in the Orange mix.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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