Greensboro, NC, United States (4E Sports) – The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Orange Bowl have agreed to a 12-year agreement that will pit the ACC champion annually in the bowl against either a team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame beginning January 1, 2015, according to sources.
Sources also said that ESPN will shell out an average of $55 million annually for the bowl, which will be split evenly between the ACC and the SEC or Big Ten, depending on which conference has a team in the bowl.
However, source added the deal calls for a significant lower amount for Notre Dame compared to the $27.5 million payout to the SEC or Big Ten if the Fighting Irish play in the bowl.
The Orange Bowl is one of the six bowls in the rotation for the semifinals for college football’s upcoming playoff, which will begin after the 2014 regular season.
It is one of three contract bowls along with the Rose (Big Ten and Pac-12 champions) and Sugar (SEC and Big 12 champions) bowls.
If the ACC champion or another ACC team qualifies for the four-team national semifinals, then the next highest-ranked ACC team would play in the Orange Bowl.
However, 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 added.
The ACC representative will play the highest available ranked team from Notre Dame, the SEC or the Big Ten.
However, if the ACC’s highest-ranked opponent would create a regular-season rematch, the Orange Bowl has the flexibility to avoid that rematch by taking the next highest-ranked team from Notre Dame, the SEC or Big Ten.
The team that was “skipped” over would be placed in an access bowl as long as it meets the minimum ranking requirement.
When the Orange Bowl hosts the national semifinals, the ACC champion and the highest-ranked available team from Notre Dame, the Big Ten or the SEC will be placed in an access bowl instead.
Aside from the Orange, Rose and Sugar, the remaining three access bowls, which will be part of the national semifinal rotation, still must be determined.
According to BCS executive director Bill Hancock, those bowls would be decided by next spring with leading candidates include the Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Cotton (Arlington, Texas) and Chick-fil-A (Atlanta).