GREENSBORO — Atlanta’s moving up into the College Football Playoff rotation and leaving behind its ACC-vs.-SEC bowl matchup.
Charlotte’s Belk Bowl is in line to pick up the coveted matchup in the next bowl cycle, which will be reworked after the 2013 college football season.
Will Webb, who runs the Belk Bowl and ACC Championship Game for the Charlotte Sports Foundation, said his group has met and talked with the SEC about pairing up with the ACC for the 2014 season and beyond.
“We’ve had a good dialogue and we’re anxiously awaiting what they’re going to do,” Webb said of the SEC. “We think it makes sense.”
College football’s postseason is in for major changes after the 2013 season. The unpopular Bowl Championship Series is being replaced by the College Football Playoff, a four-team tournament.
The traditional major bowls – Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar – will serve as the rotating sites for the semifinal matchups. Atlanta and the Cotton Bowl were also selected to host the semifinals once every three years.
That pulls the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which is expected to be rebranded as the Peach Bowl (its original name), out of the ACC bowl order.
Going back to 1993, the Peach has had 21 straight ACC/SEC matchups. An ACC team, or a team currently in the conference, has participated in the Peach Bowl in 38 of the 45 games.
Gary Stokan, the president and CEO for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, started the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in 2008 and has had five ACC/SEC matchups at the start of the season.
“We’ll attempt to keep that rivalry within the context of the Kickoff game,” Stokan said Monday. “We’ll still see the ACC and SEC (in the postseason), it just won’t be a guaranteed matchup.”
The ACC’s bowl order, and partners, are expected to get a shake-up with the new playoff system coming into effect in 2014.
Webb said he hopes the Belk Bowl will move up in the ACC order. The bowl currently picks fifth and its matchup for the first 11 years has been between the ACC and Big East.
The Big East, which has broken away from its basketball partners and been rechristened as the American Athletic Conference, will play against the ACC in the Belk Bowl this upcoming season (which will be played on Dec. 28 at Bank of America Stadium). Webb said with East Carolina and Navy eventually joining the AAC, there has been some interest by the Belk Bowl in reworking its deal with the new conference, if one with the SEC fell through.
The ACC is expected to get back into Florida, at the Gator in Jacksonville and possibly on a rotating basis in the Capital One in Orlando, in the next bowl cycle. Adding the Pinstripe Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium in New York, is also a possibility with Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC this season and Notre Dame becoming part of the bowl selection process in 2014.
Webb said he was hopeful the next cycle of bowl contracts would have more flexibility and geography would be a major consideration.
“There’s going to be more common sense to this new bowl lineup than what we had in the past,” Webb said.
The ACC’s spring meetings are set for next week in Florida, the bowl partnerships are expected to be finalized there.
One certainty – there will be more of a variety of destinations for the ACC champion. Under the BCS agreement, the champion played in the Orange Bowl, unless it was chosen for the BCS title game. The ACC hasn’t had a team selected for the title game since the 2000 season.
Under the College Football Playoff format, a yet-to-be determined selection committee will select the teams for all six major bowls. The top four teams will be placed in the semifinals, with a three-year rotation of Rose-Sugar (2014 season), Orange-Cotton (2015 season) and Peach-Fiesta (2016 season) set until 2026.
The committee will also determine the other four matchups with the Big Ten-Pac-12 tied into the Rose, SEC-Big 12 in the Sugar and ACC in the Orange.
Unlike the double-hosting model of the BCS, there will be no second bowl at each site, just the playoff games. So if the ACC doesn’t have a team picked by the selection committee to be in the playoff in years the Orange Bowl is a host site, its champion will play elsewhere.
The Rose will keep its Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, but the Peach, Fiesta and Sugar are possible landing spots for the ACC champion when it’s not involved in the four-team playoff.
The title game will be bid out on an annual basis. The first title game will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Stokan said with the construction of a new stadium in downtown Atlanta expected to be completed by 2017, he hopes to host the title game in the near future.