Earlier this week, it appeared UNC was a lock for the Music City Bowl in Nashville which was fine considering the Heels did not do themselves in favors by losing to NCSU on Saturday. Well they were a lock until FSU's Bobby Bowden announced he was retiring and the Gator Bowl decided to extend a middle finger in the general direction of the ACC by saying they were taking FSU come hell or high water. Gator Bowl officials believe(and correctly so) Bowden's last game is going to be a financial and ratings boon. Add the extra twist that FSU will be taking on Bowden's first team, West Virginia and you have a matchup made for the empty headed hype machine that is the ESPNized college football media.
Since FSU is 4-4 in the ACC, having them jump several spots in line mucks up the entire ACC bowl picture. The biggest loser in all this shuffling? North Carolina as pointed out by Joe Gilgio.
The bowl business is fluid and confusing, but the big loser in Gator Bowl's power play for Florida State stands to be North Carolina.
Last Saturday's loss to N.C. State cost North Carolina a bowl trip to Florida, and the fine print also could cost the Tar Heels a trip out of their home state.
A clause in the Gator and Champs Sports bowls' contracts with the ACC allows both games to pass on the loser of Saturday's conference championship game between Clemson and Georgia Tech. In essence, the clause offers those games a loophole for the ACC's "one-win" rule protecting bowl-eligible teams from getting leapfrogged by teams with two fewer league victories.
Because of the clause, Georgia Tech or Clemson likely will drop down the bowl ladder to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., and push the Tar Heels back to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
On one hand, the Car Bowl is not a bad destination for UNC since it will be a de facto home game. However, it is a step below the Music City Bowl. Also, UNC went to Charlotte last season and it would be nice for the players(and fans) if they could go to a nice city like Nashville for the bowl game. Plus, it appeared UNC was heading for a matchup with an SEC(likely UK) which is better than playing another Big East school.
Unfortunately for UNC, the forces that govern bowl placements and the Gator Bowl's insistence on being Bowden's last stand leaves UNC out in the cold. Which is insane to me given I look at everything through the college basketball lens. It is illogical to me that an 8-4 UNC team could be sent to the back of the line so a 6-6 FSU team can have a nice New Years Day slot just because Bowden is hanging it up. I agree with Carolina March, maybe we should go back and award UNC the 1997 NCAA title since Dean Smith was retiring. Oh, wait, we can't do that, you know why? Because in college basketball it is a system based on your on the court results not whether you can bring the most fans to the game.
But what can you do? As I stated, UNC made this bed to some extent so now they will have to sleep in it. That still does not take away from the unfairness of sending UNC to Charlotte just to give a retiring coach a going away part in Jacksonville. What will likely be so annoying about this is this is not even the same FSU team we have been watching all year. The Seminoles lost QB Christian Ponder and the defense is still putrid as all get out. As far as the football goes, it stands to be a horrible game with WVU likely blowing the doors of the Noles. None of that matters though. All that does is getting Bowden on the sideline for the media hype and fan interest(cha-ching!) From a business standpoint it is tough to blame the Gator Bowl for making the move. From a football/fairness standpoint it sucks which leaves us with only one option: