Well, so much for automatic qualifying status going away thanks to the implementation of a playoff system.
Last month when the powers-that-be officially announced that a four-team playoff would be in place following the 2014 regular season, it was thought that the Orange Bowl would be one of the six current bowls that would be part of the playoff rotation.
In a press release sent out Tuesday morning, that much has come to fruition. In the announcement, it was confirmed that the ACC and the Orange Bowl Committee had reached a 12-year agreement that will annually feature the ACC Champion in the Discover Orange Bowl. The game will be played on New Year’s Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season, with the official opponent tie-in still to be determined.
The conference and the bowl have been official partners since 2006.
“The ACC and Discover Orange Bowl have a terrific relationship and, as we look ahead to the future of postseason college football, this will further an already beneficial partnership for both organizations,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day.”
The release notes “it’s anticipated that the Orange Bowl will host at least four semifinal games in the new recently announced arrangement by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.” If the ACC champion is part of the four-team playoff during the years in which the Orange Bowl is not one of the two semifinal games, a replacement team would be selected to represent the ACC in that bowl.
How that replacement team would be selected has not been divulged.
Additionally, in the years that the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host and the ACC champion does not qualify for one of the four playoff spots, that team would then participate in one of the three host bowls that will be established as per the direction of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.
In other words, the ACC will automatically qualify for one of the top six bowls, which means that automatic qualifying is very much alive and well despite a playoff being implemented and the official release on said playoff specifically mentioning that AQ and non-AQ statuses were a thing of the past.
Anyway, in addition to the Orange Bowl, it’s believed the Rose, SEC/Big 12, Cotton and Sugar bowls will all be a part of the six-bowl rotation. A complete rotation is expected to be announced at some point before the end of the year.