NCAA Football: What Does Four-Team Playoff Mean for ACC?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IJune 20, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Quarterback E. J. Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles tumbles in the end zone after releasing a pass against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  FSU won 18 - 14. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Tonight, college football fans got the news they were long waiting for. After years of consternation and contingencies, there will be a true BCS playoff.

While details at this early hour are very unclear, what we do know is that the magic number selected has been four.

Four teams will play in what equates to a national semifinal, working within the existing bowl system. The winners of those games will play for the BCS championship.

How will these teams be selected? 

According to ESPN, a committee is going to be in charge, similar to the selection committee for the NCAA tournament.

They will evaluate teams, with a special emphasis on conference champions and strength of schedule.

Just like basketball has RPI and other mathematical measures, the mission of this committee will be to find the four best teams in the country.

While that may be nice for college football overall, one must wonder what the repercussions will be for the ACC.

Ever since the conference expanded, ironically enough to improve its football reputation, the ACC has become the second worst power conference in terms of perception.

Oh sure, there are some good teams at the top like Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. Yet these teams have not done enough out-of-conference to really raise the overall prestige of the beleaguered conference.

After all, the Hokies have historically struggled against teams ranked in the top five. In the program's history, they are 1-27.

Clemson, a team that decimated the Hokies twice last season were humiliated by West Virginia in a 70-33 drubbing.

Losing to any team 70-33 is bad, but not to a team that was once considered the only legitimate program left in the Big East.

Florida State and Miami, two programs expected to carry the ACC football banner have not been able to sustain success. Their inconsistencies have mired the reputation that commissioner John Swofford tried to create.

The addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh down the road are not going to do much to change things either.

With the Big East on the ropes as a power conference, the ACC will have to turn things around quickly.

After all, who wants to be in a conference that is constantly on the outside looking in?

If we have learned from college basketball, the answer is no one.

Now to be fair, Virginia Tech can constantly crack the top-five rankings and if they go undefeated, they are going to make it into this theoretical playoff.

However, as we have learned from college basketball, with selection committees perception is everything.

We can already pencil in the SEC Champion to make it to the playoff every single year. Considering what happened this year, the runner-up could have serious potential as well.

Nevertheless, the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 will all have something to say about who gets to go as well.

If schools become frustrated that the ACC's reputation hinder their ability to make it into the playoff, how long before they start to jump ship?

After all, Florida State officials threw around the idea of moving to the Big 12 earlier this year. While the talks were extremely preliminary and mostly conjecture, it could gain momentum in this system.

Without the BCS program that we have come to know, the millions of dollars that automatically go to the ACC champion could be a major sticking point for the football schools located in this conference.

The answer is clear. The ACC needs to step up and garner some major out-of-conference victories in the coming years.

They made strides last season. Clemson defeated Auburn, Virginia Tech should have defeated Michigan in the Sugar Bowl and Florida State defeated arch-rival Florida and Notre Dame.

Still, until the ACC as a whole moves forward, they could be left behind.