By David Teel
4:58 AM EDT, September 21, 2012
The Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., college football’s most lucrative postseason game outside the BCS, has matched teams from the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten for the last 20 years. But Notre Dame’s future inclusion in the ACC’s bowl pool could change that dynamic.
“I don’t think there’s any way to look at it but that it will be beneficial in the postseason landscape,” said Steve Hogan, the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports and the Capital One Bowl’s top executive. “The ACC already is a strong league and has a lot of great brands. … But when you add another coast-to-coast brand, especially on TV, then there’s no way but up in terms of your value.
“It’s very good for the ACC, and I think it’s probably very good for Notre Dame.”
The conference and school announced last week that the Fighting Irish are joining the ACC for sports other than football. But Notre Dame will be part of the league’s secondary postseason football pool, making it available to games affiliated with the conference.
The Irish hope to start that arrangement in 2014, the season college football’s four-team playoff debuts.
“All bets are off 2014, ‘15 and beyond,” Hogan said Thursday of traditional bowl-conference connections. “They really are.”
Florida Citrus Sports also runs the Russell Athletic Bowl, a less prestigious game that pits the ACC against the Big East or Notre Dame. Last season’s contest matched Florida State and the Irish.
The Capital One Bowl’s payout of more than $4.5 million per team about doubles the Russell Athletic game’s $2.3 million.
Hogan said Notre Dame needed to team with a conference such as the ACC to assure its bowl viability.
“It’s an inventory game,” he said. “You can’t guarantee that you’re going to be available up-and-down the line for bowl relationships without being part of a group because the group fills those (slots). … A singular bowl would need multiple backups in the event that Notre Dame wasn’t there.”
How secondary bowls and conferences align in 2014 and beyond hinges on the upper-tier bowl and playoff structure commissioners continued debating this week in suburban Chicago. The original plan included six bowls, but with access concerns for leagues such as the Big East and Mountain West, a seventh might be added.
With a $175-million Citrus Bowl renovation scheduled to be completed by late 2014, Hogan views Orlando as a serious bidder to host not only an upper-tier bowl but also the national championship game.
“We would very much view ourselves as a national championship city at some point,” he said. “We already think the city has been a national championship city, but the stadium now will give us an opportunity. … It’s just a matter of which cycle (during the playoff’s 12 years). I don’t envision them (awarding national title games) more than three, four years at a time.
“We also fully intend, as I sit here today, to make a good case for a BCS spot. We’re preparing as such and pulling all our bid materials.”
Regardless of how Orlando fares in those pursuits – Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix and Pasadena, Calif., also are in the mix -- Hogan sees Notre Dame creating more attractive bowl options for the ACC.
“Both entities in that regard are elevated,” he said.
As for the uncertain postseason structure come 2014: “It’s not necessarily a clean slate,” Hogan said, “but it’s probably a lot cleaner than it’s been in a long, long time.”
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