PONTE VEDRA BEACH — The ACC's trove of bowl partnerships is an embarrassment of riches — eight bowl tie-ins for a 12-team conference.
That didn't stop the conference from further strengthening those bonds, as ACC commissioner John Swofford announced Tuesday during his address at ACC Kickoff. Not only has the ACC formed an exclusive partnership with the Orange Bowl, but it streamlined its selection process for its other seven bowls as well.
Until now, the Orange Bowl could take either the ACC or Big East champion, but with this new agreement, the Orange Bowl becomes the official home of the ACC champion — when that team isn't playing for the national title — much like the Rose Bowl is the home of the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions.
"We're proud to be partnered with a bowl that has had more national champions and more Heisman Trophy winners play in it than any other bowl," Swofford said. "It's important for the players and the schools to have that carrot, to know that they're playing for an ACC championship and the chance to play in the Orange Bowl."
As for the rest of the bowls, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl gets the second choice, the Gator Bowl gets the third and the Champs Sports Bowl gets the fourth. The next three bowls — the Music City, Meineke Car Care and Emerald bowls — all are placed on the same tier. They choose from the fifth, sixth and seventh teams and must agree on which teams are the best fit for each bowl.
If the three cannot decide, the ACC intervenes and places a team first in the Music City Bowl, then to the Meineke Car Care Bowl and finally in the Emerald Bowl, in order of payout.
The division champion that does not win the ACC title, as long as it is not a BCS at-large pick, will play in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl or Music City Bowl.
As for the ACC title game, Swofford said the conference's inaugural championship was a rousing success and there's a good chance that the game will remain in Jacksonville until at least 2008. The current agreement is for two years with a conference option for two more.
"The first title game was a huge step for us," Swofford said. "Jacksonville did a tremendous job hosting. I have to say that things look positive for us to continue (the agreement) after this year."