College Football: ACC Should Make the Smart Move and Shift Champion to Atlanta
In the wake of the coming four-team playoff event and the SEC-Big 12 champions bowl coming, the postseason in college football is set to undergo a drastic shift.
The Fiesta Bowl is set to lose its status among the elite games in the nation. If ever there was a time for the ACC to go back to the postseason drawing board and make things better for itself, it is now.
The Orange Bowl has tremendous history. The city of Miami has hosted national championships, great games and epic contests. It is up there with the other, current, BCS Bowls as far as its place in college football legend goes.
However, planning for the future sometimes means abandoning the history of things. We're seeing that with realignment; and we should see the same with bowl games. The ACC should be looking into sending their champion elsewhere when the opportunity presents itself. That opportunity comes after the 2013 regular season, the year the entire BCS deal expires.
The news of the "floating" sites has made this move seem much more intelligent for the ACC, but that's far from the true reason the league should switch. Simply put, Miami is not working for the ACC anymore. With the league asking teams to travel to Charlotte for the championship game, the trip to Miami has become an increasingly pressing burden on fans.
Outside of Miami, a team that has not been to an ACC championship game or a BCS Bowl since joining the league, the trip to Miami is a problem.
Florida State, the next closest school to South Florida, still has an almost eight-hour trip to the game in Miami Gardens. Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are going even further to get to the game. Throw in the fact that Miami does not truly embrace the game, from the ACC champion's standpoint, and what the ACC is left with is a game that is not the best for their product.
What should the ACC do with their champion?
Now is the time to make the move to Atlanta. The Chick-fil-A Bowl has been great to the ACC. It has provided a packed house, an entertaining game and, best of all, a location that ACC fans will travel to in droves. That's been proven both during the bowl game and for the CFA kickoff season opener.
Instead of an eight-hour trip from Tallahassee, the Seminoles would be making a five-hour drive up to Atlanta for the game. Clemson would be moving just two hours to play in their big bowl. Virginia Tech would be cutting their 15 hour trip to Miami by more than half.
Traditionally, the bowl, formerly known as the Peach Bowl, has been played on New Year's Eve; moving the date into January is no problem from a scheduling standpoint.
This is a game that does attendance very well. This is a game that can draw from both sides as a solid destination for teams scheduled to play. This is a game that the ACC champion should tie itself to as a way to solidify itself in hosting a possible semifinal and in off years, a game that will still feature a great matchup.
As far as opponents go, the possibilities are pretty solid. If the "floating" sites model is utilized, the Chick-fil-A Bowl can work to tie-in the next SEC team to their game. Thus keeping the ACC-SEC model to create a game that people from both leagues will travel to Atlanta to watch in droves.
If the bowl wants another way to get a solid pull, looking at Notre Dame is an appetizing option. The game and the league could also keep their options open by spinning it as an at-large bowl, in the same fashion that the Orange Bowl handles things now.
From the ACC's perspective, shifting the site to Atlanta—a place that wants to be a bigger player in the postseason—would be a great move. It brings the champion back, closer, to the heart of the conference.
While the move would cripple the Orange Bowl, we've already seen the Fiesta Bowl take a tumble this offseason. Perhaps, it is time for the ACC to follow the Big 12's lead and make a move to start a new tradition.
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