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Bowl Situation Not Looking Good

After taking a quick look at the ACC tie-in bowls, the ACC standings, and ACC bowl-eligible teams, I'm not exactly feeling too good about the bowl situation.

First, some ground rules: there are nine ACC tie-in bowls, in this order: Orange, Chick-fil-A, Gator, Champs Sports, Meinike, Emerald, Humanitarian, EagleBank Congressional. The Orange must take the ACC champ, but the other bowls can pick any ACC bowl eligible team. They get to pick in the order listed: Chick-fil-A first, Gator gets the second selection, etc. A 6-6 team can be chosen over a 7-5 team (or 7-5 over 8-4, etc.), unless the team with a better record would be left out of a bowl (ie, the Congressional can't choose NCST and leave out Wake.) The bowls tend to care about what sells best, not who had the best record.

Nearly every bowl-eligible team in the ACC is looking better than Maryland. Ten ACC teams are bowl-eligible: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Maryland, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Miami.

BC and VT are obviously better draws, as division champs. Florida State will always get picked early - they're FSU, after all. Clemson has an insane amount of talent at every skill position - they make for good TV. NCST is hot as anything right now, and have a dynamic young QB. Georgia Tech just beat Georgia, and the Paul Johnson offense is interesting. North Carolina has exciting wide receivers and Butch Davis, besides having a better record. Miami will sell well, because they're Miami, and people love to watch Travis Benjamin.

I see all/any those teams getting selected before Wake Forest and Maryland. Unfortunately for NCST, they will not go to an ACC tie-in bowl - with only 9 bowls and 10 teams eligible, they would rob a team with a better record from a spot. They can still go to a bowl that has a tie-in with a conference that didn't get enough teams bowl-eligible.

There are also a few bowls which simply won't work. The EagleBank Congressional Bowl is one of them - Maryland officials have already said they cannot attend, due to a conflict with exams. The Emerald Bowl almost certainly will not take Maryland, because the Terps were there last year - not too many fans like making cross-country trips to the same place in back-to-back years.

You may be starting to see where this is going - it will come down to Maryland and Wake Forest for the final two spots, and the Humanitarian gets the first selection. Neither team is an especially good fit. If they choose Wake Forest, then Maryland will be relegated to the Congressional Bowl, which they can't attend. They'd be forced to turn down the bid, and hope they get an invite from a non-ACC bowl, which is possible. It's also possible that no other bowl gives them an invite, and the Terps get left out in the cold.

Don't worry too much - it's not all that likely of a scenario. The Humanitarian Bowl will be under a lot of pressure from the ACC to pick Maryland so they can go to an ACC bowl. The ACC tie-in ends next year, so it'll be interesting to see what they do. They might just try to spite them, or they might try to comply and make themselves look as good as possible for another conference. Another possibility is that the Car Care Bowl ends up with West Virginia from their Big East tie-in- if that happens, then Maryland would be an obvious choice; a rivalry game is a great sell. West Virginia could end up going to a better bowl, however, especially if they win this week against South Florida and Pittsburgh loses to UCONN.

In the event that the above situation doesn't work out, there'll almost certainly be a shortage of teams in a few conferences, so there'll be some holes. I'm not entirely clear if a bowl could select a 6-6 team over a 7-5 team if the 7-5 team turned down a previous invivation - I believe the answer is yes, but don't quote me on it. Also, the Las Vegas, St. Petersburg, and New Mexico bowls are off the table, due to a conflict with exams.

I think that Maryland will find a home somewhere (likely Boise) for the bowl season, but I'll certainly be watching carefully on Sunday.