ACC vs. Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl: Will NYC Ever Matter in College Football?

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-NY Area Teams

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-New York Area Teams Invited

As most are aware by now, the ACC has signed on with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (located at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY) for a six-year term starting in 2014. The game will rotate the league’s third through sixth postseason selections, and will match the ACC up against the Big Ten, the only other major conference with a foothold near the New York area. Obviously, this sets the stage for what should be an interesting battle between the two conferences to gain market share in the nation’s largest television market (and the largest without a major college football team to call its own).

Over its three years of existence thus far, the Pinstripe Bowl has found success in featuring nearby teams Syracuse and Rutgers, and pitting them against Big 12 schools they wouldn’t normally play (or in the case of West Virginia, played regularly for decades). With those two schools off to the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, this move only makes more sense now. It also allows the Pinstripe Bowl to continue moving up in the bowl payout hierarchy, but will that mean a bump up in importance as well? Last year, the Pinstripe Bowl’s $1.8 million payout was 12th among non-BCS games in terms of payout. Now, with a more lucrative setup matching up teams either from nearby campuses or with large alumni bases in New York, I’d bet that number has a chance to increase. The key, however, will be variety.

The biggest knock on the Pinstripe Bowl up to this point is that it hasn’t had to deal with hosting teams outside of the New York/New Jersey corridor, featuring SU twice and Rutgers once — all wins for the “home” team. Northeast football fans don’t exactly have a sterling reputation for traveling, so this arrangement — despite the fact that it’s in the snowy northeast in December — has been advantageous for both sides. I’m doubtful this will continue, however, if the two teams continue to be shuttled off to the Bronx. And that’s where the rest of the teams in their respective conferences come in.

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Early 2013 ACC Football Betting Lines

"Clean, Old Fashioned Hate" is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

“Clean, Old Fashioned Hate” is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

While I’m not endorsing gambling (unless you’re in Las Vegas, then go right ahead), it’s always a great sign that college football’s right around the corner when you can start betting on games. To that end, Golden Nugget’s sports books have published lines for almost 250 games this fall — 48 of which are involving ACC squads. The full list of ACC games, which I’ve included below, are gleaned from the list provided by Don Best via SB Nation.

Week One

North Carolina at South Carolina (-12)

Penn State at Syracuse (+6.5) (at East Rutherford, NJ)

BYU at Virginia (+3.5)

Alabama at Virginia Tech (+17) (at Atlanta)

Georgia at Clemson (+3.5)

Florida State at Pittsburgh (+13)

Week Two

Syracuse at Northwestern (-13)

Oregon at Virginia (+21)

Florida at Miami (+2.5)

Week Three

Boston College at USC (-21.5)

Nevada at Florida State (-26)

Louisville at Kentucky (+14)

Week Four

Clemson at NC State (+11)

North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-4.5)

West Virginia at Maryland (+2)

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ACC Football Chat: Discussing Non-Conference Rivals and the Evolving Recruiting Landscape

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Rivalry Past 2013

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Gridiron Rivalry Past 2013

Earlier in the week, our own Hokie Mark started up a conversation surrounding three- and four-way rivalries over on SB Nation’s Every Day Should Be Saturday. The basics: there are several three-way rivalries being played out this season, and some of them are going away for a long time after that. Some due to disinterest, others due to scheduling. But what Mark was getting at was the unique setup for three- and four-way rivalries, and which are some of the most- and least-heralded in the country.

Of course, this turned into a jumping-off point for an email conversation between he and I, which I’ve compiled below for everyone. While the main topic focused on non-conference rivals, we also branched out into what’s become an increasingly year-round discussion for everyone: recruiting. Check it out:

Mark: Hello again, John! Only 100 days until the football season begins — a very special one for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to be sure. For the Orange, the season essentially begins and ends with old rivals: Penn State and Boston College. How do you feel about renewing those rivalries, and are there other rivalries for ‘Cuse that you’d like to see reawakened?

John: I’m about as excited as you can get, considering we’re still about 100 days out. Rekindling the rivalry with Boston College has been one of my favorite aspects of the ACC move, since it easily addresses our crisis of football identity (though much of the media doesn’t think so). Penn State, while arguably our oldest and most storied rival, hasn’t filled that role in over 20 years. It’s nice to play them when we can, but I think most fans have kind of moved on from the Nittany Lions — especially those of us who aren’t old enough to remember when SU and PSU were rivals to begin with.

As far as other rivalries worth rekindling, only two come to mind, and one’s not necessarily a “rivalry” at all. West Virginia‘s always been among our most-hated opponents, and with Syracuse beating the Mountaineers the last three times out (including last December’s Pinstripe Bowl), it’s only created a more hostile tension between the two fan bases. I was at the game in December, and ‘Neers fans were not what you would call “friendly” toward the Orange contingent, by any means. The other aforementioned opponent was Virginia Tech. While never traditionally considered one of Syracuse’s rivals, the Hokies and SU played plenty of heated games toward the latter years of the original Big East football conference that are worth rehashing. Of course, the ACC’s divisional setup won’t do much to help us play Tech more often, so that one’s also kind of off the table.

What about you, from a VaTech perspective? Any rivalries you’d like to start back up — feasible or not? Have any ill will left toward Syracuse from the Big East days?

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ACC Football Scheduling: How Can the ACC Better Position Itself for a Playoff Spot?

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

As you might’ve noticed earlier today, we linked to a piece from SB Nation’s Team Speed Kills entitled “How Much Will Schedule Strength Affect Playoff Selection?” — which effectively dissects the merits (or lack thereof) of scheduling tougher in order to get a playoff spot. The impetus for such an article, of course, is the flurry of recent news regarding the number of conference games. When announcing its divisional realignment the other day, the Big Ten upped its conference slate to nine games, while the Pac-12 is actually discussing moving down to eight (from the current nine). Even the SEC, which has been with the ACC in the “remain at eight” boat briefly mentioned a nine-game schedule during its SEC Network press conference today. So with two alternatives seemingly on the table again, what scheduling setup makes the most sense for the ACC if it hopes to place its top team(s) in the four-team College Football Playoff?

To start, the ACC obviously has two disadvantages when it comes to pursuing a nine-game conference schedule. One of these — out-of-conference rivalries — is a shared issue with the SEC. The other, unique to the ACC, is the Notre Dame scheduling agreement. As of 2014, at least four ACC schools will have annual in-state matchups with SEC schools on the books, effectively locking them (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville) into a ninth game on top of the eight-game conference schedule. The Notre Dame arrangement, which has the Irish playing five ACC games per year, brings that total to 10 for those teams in select years. Those same teams will likely also be at five home games and five road games by that point, making for a less-than-ideal scheduling demand of two guaranteed home dates and little calendar flexibility. If the ACC were to add a ninth game, those teams would be locked into 11 games against major-conference competition, and might also need to take a hit on home games (hosting six total, instead of seven). For schools like FSU and Clemson, it’s a tough financial hit to take, especially without an ACC Network off the ground yet.

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Could a Scheduling Alliance Between the ACC, Big 12 and Notre Dame Truly Work?

Under Further Discussion: Is an Alliance Between Notre Dame, the ACC and Big 12 Viable?

Under Further Discussion: Is an Alliance Between Notre Dame, the ACC and Big 12 Viable?

Last week, our own Hokie Mark put together an article on his site, ACCFootballRx, taking a look at how a scheduling agreement between the ACC, Big 12 and Notre Dame could conceivably work out. While he does a great job of laying out the specifics, he and I also carried the conversation over to email afterward, to discuss the issue a bit more. In particular, we dove into Notre Dame’s willingness to participate, notes on television deals and West Virginia‘s desires in this proposed situation.

John: First and foremost, would Notre Dame want to partner with the Big 12 as a whole? I get the feeling they’d prefer to keep their primary opponents, five ACC teams and then have the flexibility to schedule the Big 12’s elite teams like Texas and Oklahoma.

Mark: I agree.  That’s why I said I think this would have to fall somewhere between “rotating through all of the teams” and “just play the made-for-TV matchups.” I could see Notre Dame giving the Big 12 a list of teams they’d agree to play, which might look like this: Texas, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. (They’d leave out Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia, in my opinion).

That may not go over so well with the four left out, but consider this: (1) WVU is more interested in the ACC scheduling part anyway, so skipping Notre Dame is probably fine with them; (2) Kansas, K-State and Iowa State are just happy to be in a BCS/power conference; (3) at any rate, that creates a 6-4 vote in favor of the deal.

John: Doesn’t the Big 12 need a two-thirds majority for critical decisions? (I thought that was the case, anyway) I mostly agree with your assessments of teams, though I’m not sure Baylor gets lumped in with the other five. Also agree that KU, KSU and ISU are all off the table; plus there’s no way Notre Dame’s scheduling (former head coach) Charlie Weis any time soon.

What kind of impact could we potentially see in terms of television contracts? How much would Notre Dame’s go up by? And each conference’s deals? Would this also put FOX into the bidding (along with ESPN and NBC) for Notre Dame’s contract that expires after 2014?

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Rushel Shell Transfer: Where to, and What’s Next for Pitt’s Backfield?

Rushel Shell's Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

We Know Rushel Shell’s Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

As has been the news for nearly a week now, presumed starting running back Rushel Shell has elected to transfer out of Pittsburgh’s football program. SB Nation’s Cardiac Hill has a detailed breakdown of the various puzzling aspects of this move, so for discussion around that front, feel free to wander in that general direction.

What we’re interested in here is where he could potentially end up (touched upon over at CH as well), and then what’s next for the Panthers’ backfield as they continue with spring practice. With little information available right now, please keep in mind this is almost entirely speculation at the moment.

Where could Rushel Shell transfer to?

Just one year ago, Shell was in high demand as one of the top-rated running back prospects in the nation, and he was expected to deliver on those lofty goals as Pitt’s featured back in 2013. Now, he’s an impressive sophomore runner with 641 rushing yards and four scores under his belt, looking for a new home where he’ll sit out a year before regaining eligibility in 2014.

The top transfer choices are the ones in closest proximity: West Virginia and Penn State, but there’s chatter that Pitt would not allow him to head to either long-time rival program. Same goes for Arizona State, where former Panthers coach Todd Graham currently resides as head coach. The Cardiac Hill guys believe Pitt would block any move to those three schools, but is that the right move? Not siding with Shell here, but based on a recent tweet from the mother of Shell’s children, it would almost seem like he’s trying to run from some issues (purely speculation). However, rewind the clock a year, and let’s remember what happened when former Terps QB Danny O’Brien was trying to leave Maryland and head coach Randy Edsall was adamant about limiting his possibilities. The backlash was pretty far-reaching and ultimately, amounted to nothing since O’Brien failed to go to a future scheduled opponent or another ACC team (he went to Wisconsin).

So with that said, where could he potentially land? The top two choices are obvious:

Arizona State: Graham and his staff initially recruited Shell, and perhaps that was part of the initial appeal to the Panthers program (beyond just local tie-ins). The Sun Devils currently have a veteran backfield set for fall, giving Shell ample opportunity to contribute come fall 2014.

West Virginia: Still local, and like many Pitt players, Shell certainly knows plenty of Mountaineers players. With the Big 12 sort of lacking for an elite back, Shell could get an opportunity to really shine in that conference, though who knows how much opportunity he’d get in Dana Holgorsen’s air-raid offense.

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #30-21

Syracuse and Pittsburgh Get to Continue Their Rivalry (Or Lack Thereof) in the ACC

Syracuse and Pittsburgh Get to Continue Their Rivalry (Or Lack Thereof) in the ACC

The 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

Today, we look at numbers 30 through 21; a collection of great in- and out-of-conference matchups, many of which are rooted in decades of history. If you haven’t noticed, we’re now getting to the games which could (potentially) grab some national attention, and potentially even shape the ACC title race.

#30: Maryland Terrapins vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (Saturday, September 21)

#29: Virginia Tech Hokies at Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, November 30)

#28: Syracuse Orange vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (Saturday, August 31)

#27: North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, September 21)

#26: North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, October 5)

#25: Pittsburgh Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, October 12)

#24: Virginia Cavaliers at Maryland Terrapins (Saturday, October 12)

#23: North Carolina Tar Heels at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, November 16)

#22: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, October 5)

#21: Pittsburgh Panthers at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, November 23)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • The 10 games appear on 8 different dates
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent leagues: Big Ten (1), Big 12 (1)
  • Breakdown of non-conference opponent home states: Pennsylvania (1), West Virginia (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: two public

Previously: #112-101, #100-91, #90-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31

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