Congrats to Virginia Tech for landing a surprise bid to the Sugar Bowl, marking the ACC's first at-large BCS bid. I believe the payout for a second conference team is currently $6 million. Since the ACC will probably give Virginia Tech somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million for travel expenses, I believe that is going to mean roughly $400,000 headed toward each of the 12 ACC member institutions (and conference office) thanks to the at-large bid. The ACC wasn't able to fill its contractual bowl slots as a result, but losing the Military Bowl is not an issue since the payout from that bowl barely covers travel expenses and the conference probably would have eaten some unsold tickets.
Hopefully Virginia Tech fans will live up to the reputation that got them the at-large bid and will scoop up the tickets, and hopefully Tech will beat Michigan. If you are skeptical that conference reputation matters when it comes to BCS titles, I give you the 2012 BCS Championship Game: LSU vs.
Oklahoma State Alabama. Since us FSU fans want to win a BCS title, it wouldn't hurt FSU if Virginia Tech and/or Clemson can help show that the ACC isn't a completely soft league in the league's two marquee bowl games.
Yes, I deplore the whole business of putting aside rivalries to root for conference teams, but that's the way the world has shifted since the advent of the BCS. We really have no choice but to play along at least until there is a new system. As this season has shown, SEC fans - especially the child-like fans that work the booth for SEC games on CBS - will argue whatever it takes to pump up their programs and downgrade other programs, even if it means taking positions diametrically opposed to positions taken in previous years. You can darn sure bet that SEC - and other - fans are holding the "ACC sucks in BCS games" card to pull out whenever needed. The ACC needs to start taking that easy argument away from them.
While Virginia Tech's reputation for traveling to the Sugar Bowl (and soft schedule) helped them land this bid, let's not underestimate what Clemson's performance in the ACCCG meant. If Clemson loses the title game, the ACC doesn't get a second BCS game. There would have been no eligible at-large qualifier by the BCS selection rules. Not that it would have mattered since no BCS bowl would have been interested in a team that had gone in the tank with losses in 4 of their last 5 games. Alas, there will be an extra six figure check in FSU's bank account thanks in part to the unlikeliest of all heroes: Dabo Swinney (OK, OK, thanks to Chad Morris).
It is a little sad that we can no longer tease Clemson about their crazy championship drought or about not winning anything since FSU joined the league. Alas, given their resources and tradition, Clemson was bound to at least stumble into it eventually. As clownish as he may seem at times, Dabo Swinney deserves credit for getting his team to a position they haven't been since Ken Hatfield roamed the sidelines as well as their first Orange Bowl in 30 years. If Clemson builds on their success this season and continues to recruit well, and if FSU fans are right that Miami is headed on a downward trajectory for a while, then it seems like Clemson may indeed become FSU's #2 rival for at least the next few seasons.
Getting back to the extra cash, a check of around $400,000 might not seem like all that much money in the grand scheme of things. And it is true that the extra cash isn't going to be transformative. It isn't going to get the indoor practice facility built or endow all the athletics scholarships or measure up to the cash T. Boone Pickens is shoveling into Oklahoma State. But perhaps there are some small things that it can help with. For instance, maybe it can help fund small but respectable raises for Vic Viloria, Dameyune Craig (who has made FSU a player in Alabama recruiting), and DJ Eliot (who has done a fantastic job with the DEs). Or maybe it can instead fund the hiring of an extra support staffer or two. All without having to "rob Peter to pay Paul" and taking from other needs.
By the way, to understand one example of why FSU is going to have to pony up for assistant salaries in the near future, I point you to the Pac-12, which is currently involved in an orgy of spending. Washington State - Washington State! - promised Mike Leach that they would spend nearly $2 million a year for assistants, which is not far off what FSU paid for its assistants this season. So that you understand, Washington State averages about 25,000 fans at their games, has a 35,000 seat stadium, and is located in the middle of nowhere. Yet they just made a splashy head coaching hire and are promising a massive upgrade in financial commitment. They are basically the dregs of the BCS-AQ level, so you can only imagine what bigger, better programs are doing. Heck, rumors abound that UCLA and Arizona State are already promising to substantially top anything Wazzu has done. The money is flowing in the marketplace.
An extra one-time $400k isn't going to be transformative, but it certainly won't hurt when it comes to keeping up for the next season or so. Which must include keeping the most productive assistant coaches and staffers from leaving. Of course, to get transformative money, FSU must realize its hopes of getting to the next level (ACC Championship, BCS game, BCS title), which brings with it increased ticket sales/booster donations/ancillary revenues. In the meantime, however, a few extra hundred thousand dollars can "fill in a few potholes." So, yeah, thanks Clemson.