After the ACC announced the Orange Bowl deal, many had hoped that this deal would end any sort of rumor that ACC schools were thinking of jumping ship. And it rightfully should. This new deal reaffirms to the rest of college football that the ACC is amongst the elite conferences after some had considered relegating the conference to the same status as the Big East. Florida State, Clemson, and whoever else is thinking of leaving will still have easy access to a New Year's Day bowl game and easier access to the playoff should they go undefeated in the regular season.
Jason Kirk at SB Nation agrees:
Even more critically, the partnership might just guarantee conference stability. For FSU, the deal removes one very large reason to consider leaving the ACC for the Big 12, which we'd thought last month to be one of only four power conferences. Now there are five, even though the last nine national champions have come from just three leagues.
Not only do the Noles have a very good shot every year at both the playoff and an automatic Orange Bowl bid if they finish second in the ACC, they might tend to have the most navigable road to the tournament of any team in the country.
But conference realignment is never that cut and dry. There are still some who don't buy into the hype.
The guys over at Clemson blog Shakin the Southland are hardly believers.
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.
It's hard to blame Clemson or Florida State supporters for wanting out of the ACC. It's the exact same as Pitt with the Big East - fans feel like the conference isn't looking out for their best interests and in this money-hungry world we're in right now, schools have to look out for their best interests, even if it doesn't make geographic sense (hello, Big East). Honestly, if Pitt got a call from the Big Ten this morning with an invitation to join, I would hope that they jump at the opportunity to join college's richest conference. That's a lot of money, even if Jamie Dixon doesn't like it.
But in the end, fans aren't the ones who make the decisions (and we are very thankful for that). It's the officials at the schools who do. And ACC schools have to like how they have easy access to a big-time bowl game and the playoff.
People can mock the Orange Bowl and the teams playing in it for their failure to bring fans and sell out their stadiums (even WVU, with their rabid fan base, didn't sell out their ticket allotment), but moving the game to a 1 P.M. kickoff time on New Year's Day will instantly boost attendance. Who wouldn't want to spend New Year's in Miami? Sounds like a destination vacation to me. Throw in getting to see your favorite team play in a prestigious bowl game and you can see why ACC supporters are thrilled with this new deal. That will help drive the market value up when the ACC takes the game out to the open markets.
The next step is securing a quality opponent to match up against the ACC champion/runner-up. Whether it's Notre Dame or some highly ranked qualifier, the ACC has to get it right the first time. Because a match-up with the Big East champion, even if it's Boise, will not appease Florida State or Clemson. I don't think John Swofford is as bad as some other people make him out to be, but I trust that he will get the best opponent possible for the Orange Bowl. Getting a quality opponent, as thus increasing the value of the Orange Bowl to TV executives, will go that much further to quash these realignment rumors.
Conference realignment is always going to be around, unfortunately. Fans are always going to see that another nearby conference is raking in cash and their wandering eyes are going to start up rumors. But this deal is a great start to ending any rumor.