Anywhere but Boise
As the big boys of the college media world focus on who still has a chance at the Rose Bowl, I’ll turn my energy to the question on many ACC fans mind: “are we going to get stuck going to Boise?”
Boise might be a lovely place. All bowls are not created equal, but this one has a lot to offer. There is the great skiing, the blue turf, a sure sellout…maybe even some snowmobile rides. However, going there is a nightmare scenario for most of the middle of the pack ACC teams.
You see, going to the MPC Computers Bowl is a near no-win situation for the ACC participant. No one is rooting for you. Your fans are not there and are probably disappointed in your mediocre season. You are expected to win. If you win, everyone says you were supposed to win. If you lose, critics will say “see! They were not that good.” And you are probably facing a hungry WAC team looking to get a piece of a big boy. When ACC teams start the season they are thinking BCS first. A New Year’s Day bowl is acceptable for most. The Peach is okay. Charlotte usually means a close drive. Even the Champs Bowl has the appeal of a day at DisneyWorld. Boise is the ultimate ugh bowl.
With Boise State having a pretty good, but not great season, they are most likely WAC invitee. So who is going to represent the ACC? Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech have locked up good to great bowl invitations. Duke and Wake are not bowl eligible. That leaves the other seven schools. Here’s the breakdown:
Boston College: A very real possibility. BC went to Charlotte last year and is not known for traveling, so we are unlikely to get invited back North Carolina. The ticket sales aspect makes an at large bid at the Liberty or other open bowls doubtful. That leaves the Champs Bowl in Orlando or the MPC bowl.
Virginia: Another likely candidate. Virginia may not even become bowl eligible. Even if they do, they will not have a bevy of invites from which to choose. They’ve been to Charlotte twice, so I think the organizers would probably pick nearly anyone else. There is talk of a Liberty Bowl bid, but I don’t see it. Would UVA sell more tickets than some of the other teams trying to go to Memphis? Then there is the Champs. The dream destination of the middling ACC teams. I bet the Hoos would want to go. But would the Champs want them? Last year, the wine and cheesers turned their nose up at Orlando (supposedly because of an exams conflict). Will the organizers stick it back to them or help them avoid the blue turf?
Georgia Tech: The good news for Georgia Tech -- they've been to Boise and won. The bad news -- they went to the Champs last year. Also they end the season with some tough games. A losing skid would kill fan momentum and make them less desirable for closer bowls in Charlotte and Orlando.
Maryland: After staying home last year, I don’t think the Terps would see Boise as a real downer. They also embrace the WAC spirit of wacky uniforms, innovative play calling and “we’ll play anywhere.” If they are wanted in Idaho and want to go, I think the rest of the ACC will breathe a sigh of relief.
Clemson, NC State and North Carolina: One of these teams is going to Charlotte. One of these teams is staying home. One is going somewhere sucky. I don’t know which is which. I do know that the Mienke Bowl would love the tickets sales that these schools would provide, especially if the Big East team is not known for traveling. With the way things have to play out, it is highly probable that one of these teams won’t be bowl eligible. (Even Boise sounds good when you are not bowling.) The other team will has a chance to go to Boise. It will depend on conference records and if one of the ACC teams finagles an at large invite somewhere else.