ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced the conference's top tier bowl games today. These bowl agreements will be effective for the six years of postseason play following the 2014 through 2019 seasons. Here is a snippet from today's announcement.
"In all, the league has reached agreements with the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando; the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas; the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.; the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.; the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York City.
Additional bowl partnerships for the same time frame are expected to be announced in the near future, as the conference will have 15 teams in its postseason mix beginning in 2014 with Notre Dame joining the league's postseason options.
The new agreements, all six years in length, feature increased net financial revenues to the Conference, reduced ticket obligations, added flexibility in selection of teams to create the best possible matchups and avoid repeat appearances, prioritized geographic regional proximity for better fan access, additional new market and bowl game possibilities for ACC teams and a greatly increased presence in bowl games in Florida."
After reading the ACC press release, there are three things UofL fans should keep in mind. First, Notre Dame will be eligible to be selected for any ACC bowl (minus the Orange Bowl slot) as long as its overall record is within one of the bowl-eligible ACC schools. For example, an 8-4 Notre Dame could not be selected over a 10-2 ACC team, but could be selected over a 9-3 or worse ACC team. The reason I mention this is that is possible (and fairly likely) that ACC teams will be bumped out of some of the conference's top tier bowls in years when Notre Dame is bowl eligible but doesn't make one of the six College Football Playoff major bowls.
Second, bowl slots 3-6 are no longer going to be assigned by order of finish. Instead, those bowls will be pooled together and selections will be based on criteria such as geography, opponent, whether it would be a repeat appearance, etc. One potential issue with this shared selection process is that schools with a great conference record/finish could be bumped down to a less desirable bowl destination over school with a worst record but bigger name.
Third, the ACC line-up is going to be a bit more complicated during the next cycle due to back-up and shared agreements. For example, an ACC team will play in the Capital One Bowl whenever the Discover Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team to play the ACC champion. Furthermore, the ACC will send a team to Nashville for the Music City Bowl three times and will send a team to the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl game three times over the six year (alternates with Big 10).
Here’s what the line-up looks like as of today in order of selection and opponent:
#1. Orange Bowl - vs SEC, Big 10, or Notre Dame (maximum of two appearances)
If the ACC champion is not selected to the four-team College Football Playoff, that team will play in the Orange Bowl (Miami, FL). If the Orange Bowl is hosting one of the CFP semifinal games, the ACC champion will play in a host bowl -- either the Fiesta Bowl or the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
#2. Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Big 12 #3
The Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL) will have the first selection of ACC teams after the Orange Bowl and College Football Playoff.
#2 (conditional) Capital One Bowl vs. SEC
An ACC team will only play in the Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL) when the Orange Bowl hosts a Big Ten team, presumably against an SEC opponent.
#3-6 Gator/Music City, Belk, Sun, and Pinstripe
The Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL), Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN), Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC), Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX), and Pinstripe Bowl (New York City, NY) will be pooled together and selections will be made based on match-ups, geography, etc. The ACC and Big Ten will split the Gator and Music City Bowls will each conference receiving three appearances apiece during the 6-year cycle.
Gator Bowl vs SEC or Music City Bowl vs SEC
Belk Bowl vs SEC
Sun Bowl vs Pac 12
Pinstripe Bowl vs Big 10
In addition to the announced bowls above, it has also been reported that the ACC is also looking into a number of other possible bowl destinations. Unconfirmed reports have placed the ACC in a new Detroit bowl at Ford Field against the Big 10 and in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. against the American Athletic Conference. Other bowls that could be part of the ACC's new bowl lineup include the Liberty against Big 12 #4, AdvoCare V100 (formerly the Independence Bowl), and Beef 'O' Brady's in St. Petersburg.