Nothing is official yet–which means they are still in the talking, “let me think about that” stage of their negotiations, but the Orange Bowl and Atlantic Coast Conference are very close to agreeing on a deal that could be very good for both sides.
The OB–led by its super talented CEO Eric Poms–has already focused on getting Notre Dame as a potential opponent for the ACC champion in a game that–thank heavens–will now be anchored on January 1 in the years when it doesn’t host a Football Four semifinal or championship game.
But there is more to it than that. OB officials are talking to other conferences, looking to arrange a rotating group of four or five opponents from either the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Big East, as well as Notre Dame, as part of the opponent rotation for the ACC opponent.
The tentative plan would simply be to invite the team with the highest ranking as the ACC opponent.
But the OB is resisting that to some extent. Let’s say that 10-2 Louisville is the highest ranked opponent available to play ACC champion Florida State.
Decent game right? Well maybe competitively. But does it have the national appeal that a 9-3 Notre Dame might bring?
The Orange Bowl wants some wiggle room in its choice. Notre Dame, despite its lack of national significance in the BCS rankings the last few years, still draws attention from the casual fans, which the OB and its television partners feel is important.
The deal will get done–sooner-rather than later–and it will be a rotation of teams including Notre Dame, but there will be a lot of wiggle room for the OB to get the team that it wants.
Lord knows after a diet of Stanford vs Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Clemson, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati and Iowa vs Georgia Tech the past several years–all decent teams, but not really marquee match ups– the OB wants more flexibility so it has a better chance of filling up Sun Life Stadium and turning on televsion sets.
Playing at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day is a guarantee ratings boost and getting a Notre Dame team that is back in the mix as a national player would just add to that.
Speaking of ND. The Irish and the ACC continue to focus on a deal which would allow ND to play 6 games a year against ACC teams in exchange for getting full membership in the ACC in all other sports.
The sticking point would be in basketball. Putting together a schedule for a 15-team league is much tougher than doing it for a 16-team league. Talks will continue…. The Big East is close to setting up its 2-division configuration for next year, but don’t expect it to be strictly geographically based which means that a team like Temple could be in the Big East West…Although they will not begin official negotiations–with ESPN on Sept. 1 for a two month exclusive period–on their new television deal, Big East officials are confident that any deal can get the league closer to ACC money–which is around the $17 million a year mark per team than the last offer that they turned down from ESPN which was closer to $11 million.
The reason for the boost? NBC, Fox and a few others are looking for college football inventory and the Big East is the only really major player available.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.