CLEMSON — – A quick check of Stubhub.com Monday morning revealed a less-than-stellar market for tickets to Saturday’s ACC Championship clash between Florida State and Georgia Tech.
If you’re willing to sit in Bank of America Stadium’s upper deck Saturday night, you won’t exactly have to break into your 401K. Tickets to see the Seminoles and Yellow Jackets clash are going for as low as $4, plus handling charges.
For less than the price of a medium one-topping pizza from Domino’s, you and a friend are in the door for the ACC’s biggest football showcase.
There are reasons for this: the ACC’s overall mediocrity, coupled with bowl bans that kept more worthy Coastal Division representatives like Miami and North Carolina at home.
This fall, the ACC finally had a shot at matching up rivals Florida State and Miami in its ACC title game, as many had hoped when the league expanded to 12 teams and a two-division format in 2005.
That the Hurricanes would remove themselves from contention voluntarily sums up the depths of the league’s football despair.
There’s nothing that can be done to avoid what will likely be a less-than-lively environment Saturday night, but it isn’t too late to make changes that will improve the ACC title game in the future.
Maryland’s surprising departure to the Big 10 – and the resulting addition of one or more new members – Louisville? UConn? Cincinnati? - provides the perfect opportunity to realign the league’s two divisions in a way that will enhance the league’s football fortunes.
Why not move Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic to the Coastal Division?
Both programs have shown a serious commitment to football – in terms of recruiting, facilities and coaching compensation – that other league programs simply haven’t displayed.
The teams’ meeting in September was, for all intents and purposes, the ACC title game – the league’s first in-season top-10 matchup since 2007.
It was nationally-televised by ABC in prime time, and quite frankly, Florida State’s 49-37 win was fun to watch. Both teams made big offensive plays, and anyone who tuned in was surely entertained.
Contrast that with the scene in Charlotte this week: a Florida State team coming off a loss to rival Florida against a 6-6 Georgia Tech team trying to recover from a 42-10 mashing at rival Georgia’s hands.
The Yellow Jackets have already applied for an NCAA waiver that, should they lose, would allow them to go to a bowl game with a sub-.500 6-7 record.
I can hear the ratings for the Big 10 title game between Nebraska and Wisconsin – this game’s main timeslot competition – rising as I type.
I’m well aware that both Clemson and Florida State lost to SEC teams, but surely there’d be more anticipation among the respective fan bases – a shot at redemption, if you will – if those two were facing off in The Vault Saturday night.
Why not give them the shot to do it every year?
If you trade Miami to the Atlantic, the Hurricanes still get to play Florida State every year, and Clemson can keep a yearly rivalry with Florida State as its crossover foe while adding Virginia Tech as an intriguing division foil.
Clemson scribes will be upset about losing biannual trips to Boston College, but it’s smarter for the league as a whole. You lose the “rivalry” with N.C. State, but I’m not sure anyone is even aware that’s a rivalry at this point.
Or if you’re not interested in realignment, perhaps John Swofford could insert a “best interests of the league” clause into football title game eligibility. If a division rep isn’t ranked in the BCS top 25 or has two fewer ACC wins than the second-place team in the other division, the second-place team goes to the title game.
To stay relevant on college football’s changing landscape, the ACC has to be bold. And these ideas would certainly apply.