Thoughts on the ACC's new Orange Bowl Agreement

Raycom

First the gist of the announcement that came out today:

The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl Committee announced today a 12-year agreement that will annually feature the ACC Champion in the Discover Orange Bowl to be played on New Year’s Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season.

As part of the new postseason college football arrangement recently announced by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, the ACC has selected the Discover Orange Bowl as its annual contract bowl partner, to serve as the home of the ACC Champion. If the ACC Champion is identified as one of the top four teams by the Bowl Championship Series selection committee, then the ACC Champion will participate in the national semifinals and a replacement team from the ACC would participate in the Discover Orange Bowl.

In addition to the partnership between the ACC and the Discover Orange Bowl, it’s anticipated that the Orange Bowl will host at least four semifinal games in the new recently announced arrangement by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. In the years that the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host, the ACC Champion would then participate in one of the three host bowls that will be established as per the direction of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

Details on both the opponent and broadcast partner will be forthcoming.

"The ACC and Discover Orange Bowl have a terrific relationship and, as we look ahead to the future of postseason college football, this will further an already beneficial partnership for both organizations," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day."

"The Orange Bowl is extremely pleased to continue its relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference," said O. Ford Gibson, president and chair, Orange Bowl Committee. "We are looking forward to entering this new era of postseason collegiate football with a valued partner and its historically successful member institutions."

This means, if I understand the agreement correctly, that If the ACC champ also happens to be one of the four best teams in the country and competes in the playoff, the league will have another team in the New Year's Day spotlight. It's similar to what the ACC currently has with the Orange Bowl and the BCS.

And Swofford answered a few questions from Heather Dinich about it, the most important of which is this one

How much revenue do you think you could possibly generate from this?

JS: It’s hard to tell until we go to the marketplace, but it certainly has excellent value, as does the entire system that has been developed. One of the real pluses here for the ACC from a financial standpoint is that this game is a contract game, and therefore the revenue from it will largely benefit the ACC.

So the ACC basically bought the rights to the Orange Bowl game on NY day, and will take the bowl itself to the marketplace and have half of the allotted payout (undetermined as yet) to distribute to league members.

I will say that I approve of the deal that Swofford just made, but despite what Don Munson David Hood says, its not all its cracked up to be.

However, there is more to it than meets the eye. I spoke with league sources in Greensboro who tell me that the Atlantic Coast Conference now controls the rights to the Orange Bowl and will take that game to market, meaning the conference now has the ability to sell the game to the highest bidder, whether that is ESPN, CBS or Fox Sports.

What does that mean? The Orange Bowl signed over the rights to the bowl game to the BCS when the BCS took over, and the BCS then dispersed the money to the bowl, which then trickled down to the conference and the individual schools. In the new format, the Atlantic Coast Conference now owns those rights, and the revenue stream cuts out the middle man. Last season, the conference received $22 million to disperse to the member institutions. That ability to sell the Orange Bowl broadcast rights on the open market adds a game-changing revenue stream for the league, and one would think it effectively puts to the rest all of the talk about a move by Clemson or Florida State to the Big 12.

Its certainly not going to close the gap with the other power conferences, unless Swofford somehow manages to get ESPN or some other network to pay twice what they pay for the Sugar, Fiesta, Champions (the "new" Cotton), or the Rose Bowl, so I don't see this as any ironclad proof that Clemson or FSU would stay if true offers from other conferences came to them. Unless we get multiple teams in, this doesn't make a big dent in the multimillion dollar disadvantage. What will stop the other conferences from locking private deals like this one with the former BCS bowls as well? And of course, Swoffy hasn't shown great negotiating ability with the Networks thus far has he?

The push is to have the former BCS games back closer to NY day, and this will saturate the TV market, so who is going to pay double for an Orange Bowl whose ratings have been abysmal over several years? He almost has to lock up an opponent like Notre Dame, if they arent included in the Final 4.

Would it be Swofford's cronies at Raycom hosting a New Years Day bowl game? Highly unlikely, but it could happen that he gets them a sweet little side deal for something attached to it.

As far as expansion goes, I do think it will not happen this year. I continue to hear from folks close to the BOT members that Clemson will entertain serious offers, as would FSU, but the offers have not come yet and may not come at all this summer. I'm not convinced that its completely dead in the water, but the clock is ticking to pull out of the conferences (for any school) before deadlines that would raise penalties for bailing. If it doesnt happen this month its set to simmer until next spring, when it may ramp right back up again. In that case, all one can do is accept this OB deal as the best we can get for the time being. For what it is, it could be a very nice deal.

But other schools can still make much more money and the gap only widens as long as that goes onwards.

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