BCS era hasn’t been friendly to ACC teams

jgiglio@newsobserver.comJuly 22, 2013 

  • By The Numbers At-large BCS bids

    Big Ten 12

    SEC 10

    Pac-12 5

    Big 12 4

    MWC 4

    Notre Dame 3

    WAC 3

    ACC 1

    MAC 1

    BCS titles

    SEC 9

    Big 12 3

    Big Ten 1

    Big East 1

    ACC 1

    BCS title games

    SEC 10

    Big 12 7

    Big Ten 3

    Big East 3

    ACC 3

    BCS records

    MWC 3-1 .750

    SEC 17-8 .680

    WAC 2-1 .667

    Pac-12 13-7 .650

    Big East 8-7 .533

    Big Ten 12-14 .461

    Big 12 9-11 .450

    ACC 3-13 .187

    Notre Dame 0-4 .000

— The Bowl Championship Series will close its doors after one more season of suspect math, ticket scams and convoluted matchups.

A four-team playoff will replace the Bowl Championship Series in 2014, and for the ACC’s college football teams the BCS era can’t end soon enough.

Among the six major conferences which started the bowl-game cartel in 1998, the ACC won the fewest titles (one in 15 seasons), appeared the least in the title game (three times), received one at-large bid to play in one of the four annual postseason games and accumulated the worst record (3-13) of any conference in BCS play.

In addition to the on-field struggles in the BCS, Congress summoned ACC Commissioner John Swofford to Washington in 2009 to answer anti-trust questions about the organization.

Before the BCS hired a full-time director in 2010, the conference commissioners rotated as the BCS coordinator. Swofford served twice, in 2000-01 and 2008-09.

“I was the only guy crazy enough to be its coordinator twice,” Swofford joked Sunday. “I didn’t learn the first time around.”

But all of that didn’t stop Swofford from paying the BCS its final respects.

“For all its issues and problems, I think it has been good for college football,” Swofford said. “The growth of the game during the existence of the BCS has been phenomenal; I’m not saying it’s because of the BCS but it turned the sport from a regional sport to a national sport where people were interested in what would happen on the other side of the continent because it might affect who played in the national championship game.”

Early success

The BCS wasn’t always so unkind to the ACC. Florida State played in the first three championship games, which until 2005 was a designated game among the Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls.

Miami, then as a member of the Big East, played in the title game in 2001 and 2002, winning the former under coach Larry Coker in the Rose Bowl.

That was the last time a current ACC member played in the title game, and Florida State’s loss to Oklahoma in 2000 is the last time an active ACC member appeared in the game.

The past seven seasons of the system have culminated with the BCS Championship Game (with the other four games still being played). The Southeastern Conference has won each of those seven games.

By comparison, in the first five years of the BCS – which included either FSU or Miami in every game – the SEC had one title (Tennessee’s win against FSU in the inaugural BCS season) and one title game appearance.

The tide turned quickly to the SEC’s favor with the current seven-year run while the ACC lost eight straight BCS bowl games from 2000 to 2007.

FSU beat Northern Illinois, an at-large qualifier from the Mid-American Conference, in the Orange Bowl last season to improve the ACC’s BCS record to 3-13. Only the Big Ten has lost more games (14, but has 12 wins). The Mountain West Conference has as many wins as the ACC in just four appearances.

The only regular BCS participant below the ACC in winning percentage in the cumulative 15-year standings? Notre Dame, which is 0-4 in BCS play. Notre Dame begins a partnership with the ACC, five regular-season games and access to their bowl lineup, before the 2014 season.

‘A major leap forward’

The College Football Playoff will replace the BCS in 2014. While the BCS was set up to pit the No. 1 team, as determined by the BCS formula, against the No. 2 team, the CFP will be a four-team playoff.

The former BCS bowls will be used as semifinal sites and there will still be four major bowls, with the Cotton and Peach bowls joining the rotation.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the CFP is a good compromise for the proponents of the bowl system and those who favor a playoff.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Swinney said. “You still have the bowl tradition and experience that a lot of teams will get to be a part of. Then you have a chance to settle the argument with the top four teams.”

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has a 1-4 BCS record since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004. He wasn’t quite ready to wax nostalgic about the BCS but did say he thought it served a purpose.

“I thought it was a solution at the time and I think we’ve improved it,” Beamer said.

Beamer pointed to the 2004 season, when his team lost to unbeaten Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers finished 13-0 but were left out of the BCS title game (a 55-19 win by Southern California against Oklahoma, which was later vacated by the NCAA).

While the CFP will cover such three-team scenarios, there will still be arguments and controversy to the new system, Swofford said, but it’s progress.

“Certainly not all of the controversy will disappear – it will never disappear – but I think we’ve taken a major leap forward,” Swofford said.

Now the question is whether the ACC do the same on the field.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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