The devil is always in the details.
Given the shaky national perception of the ACC back during the spring and early summer, there is every indication that the league has fared well lately on a variety of business-related fronts.
The ACC coaxed Notre Dame to put a foot across the threshold, at least; renegotiated a favorable TV contract and position inside college football's new playoff structure; and reached a long-term agreement with the Orange Bowl.
The ACC formally announced its arrangement with the Orange Bowl on Thursday, and not surprisingly, given the multi-tiered, rotating nature of the bowl's inclusion in the BCS system, it's complicated.
Some 'dotting and crossing' is still left to be done, and there are plenty of 'ifs, ands & buts' to be negotiated on a year-by-year basis.
Given Clemson's projected prominence in the ACC football's new world order, it's worth looking more closely at the general framework, as well as some of the agreement's quirks and oddities:
- For the 12-year term of the contract, the Orange Bowl will be played on either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, and will be televised by ESPN in an exclusive prime-time window. The day of the game will depend on the schedule of the new playoff system.
- The Big Ten and the SEC will get a minimum of three guaranteed appearances each in the Orange Bowl during the 12-year run, while Notre Dame will get a maximum of two appearances.
- The ACC's opponent will be determined annually by a selection committee, based on the above criteria and on the final BCS rankings.
- In coordination with the new four-team playoff, if the ACC champion is identified as one of the top four teams by the selection committee, the ACC champion will play in a national semifinal game and will be replaced in the Orange Bowl by another ACC team.
- In years in which the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host, the ACC champion (or replacement representative) will be assigned to one of the three other 'access bowls' that have yet to be named, but which are thought to include the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Tex.
- The agreement calls for ESPN to pay an average of $55 million per year for broadcast rights to the Orange Bowl.
- The revenue will be split evenly between the ACC and the SEC or Big Ten, depending on which conference is represented in the Orange Bowl. However, when Notre Dame plays in the bowl, it will receive a reduced payout, as compared to the conference payout - according to an ESPN report.
- The Orange Bowl will select from SEC and the Big Ten after those conferences have fulfilled their obligations to the BCS semifinals, and the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl, respectively.
- ESPN reports that in the years the Rose and/or Sugar bowls host the national semifinals, the BCS commissioners have agreed that the Big Ten or SEC champion will not be placed in the Orange Bowl. Instead it will be placed in one of the three other 'access bowls.' That decision was made to improve the value of the access bowls, sources told ESPN.
- The ACC representative will play the highest available ranked team from Notre Dame, the SEC or the Big Ten. An exception would be made, if the rankings create a rematch of a regular-season game. The Orange Bowl has the option of avoiding a rematch by taking the next highest-ranked team, and the 'skipped' team would receive a bid to one of the access bowls.