|The Orange Bowl has some guidelines for its new partners. (US Presswire)|
In an announcement that didn't come as much of a surprise, the Orange Bowl announced that ESPN will continue to broadcast the game after the two sides agreed to a 12-year contract starting in the 2014 season.
“Our continued media partnership with ESPN is of great importance to the Discover Orange Bowl property,” said Orange Bowl committee CEO Eric Poms in a release. “The worldwide leader in sports brings the optimal platform to annually showcase one of college football's great traditions.”
Also of no surprise is that the ACC champion will face a team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame during those 12 seasons -- when the game is not a semifinal in the playoff. What is new, though, is the limits set on the opponents.
Over the course of the 12-year deal, the Big Ten and SEC will be represented in the game a minimum of three times each. Notre Dame, on the other hand, will be allowed a maximum of two appearances. There is no minimum for Notre Dame appearances.
The way things are set up now, the highest-rated team among the SEC and Big Ten that isn't in the BCS playoff, Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl (Champions Bowl) will face the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl. If Notre Dame is ranked higher than that team and not in the playoff, it will face the ACC in the Orange Bowl.
So if the SEC sends a team to the Orange Bowl in the first eight seasons of the deal because it continues to have a team ranked higher than the Big Ten, the Big Ten would send a team to Miami in the final four years -- one of those years the game would be a semifinal -- of the deal whether or not its team is ranked higher than the SEC's team or Notre Dame to meet the three-appearance minimum.
Of course, the odds of that scenario actually happening are slim, and odds are neither conference will have trouble hitting its minimum. The only question is how often Notre Dame will qualify for an appearance.