College Football: Swfford pointing to December in Tampa
GREENSBORO, Ga. ó You might be able to take the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game out of Jacksonville, but not out of Florida ó not yet anyway.
The league is moving its title game to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Dec. 6 with an expanded level of activities designed to turn it into a showcase event the league envisioned when it went to the two-division format before the 2005 season.
“That city has shown a propensity to put on and support big events in a very big way,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said Tuesday as the league wrapped up its annual football kickoff festivities.
After two years playing its title game at the 65,000-seat home stadium of the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs, the ACC game moves to Charlotte, N.C. for two years, 2010 and 2011.
“By the time we finish that second year in Charlotte we’ll have seven years of experience with the game and I think that will help us make a determination as to what the best route is to go,” Swofford said.
Swofford said the league initially hoped to find a permanent home for the game, but noted the Big XII has been successful moving the game to different venues.
“We need to learn from the others and do what’s best for us,” he said.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, the only coach to have his team in two of the first three title games, likes the rotating system.
“When you add competition, everything gets better,” Beamer said. “It seems like to me that the Tampa people are going all out. They’ve been very aggressive. In the end, I think that’ll make Charlotte’s people more aggressive when it gets their turn.”
The 2008 game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff Dec. 6 and will be televised by ABC.
“You want to play that game when it’s sold out, for the league’s sake and for everybody involved,” Beamer said.
The Tampa Bay area includes 80,000 ACC alumni in that region and the league plans to scale back ticket prices from those charged in the first three games, providing some $25 tickets.
The inaugural ACC title game in Jacksonville between Florida State and Virginia Tech in 2005 was a sellout, but attendance fell dramatically the last two years.
The conference also announced guidelines for sports medicine officials at the ACC schools to release the names of players out for the season or scheduled for surgery on the Monday following games and also update the status of injured players on the Thursday before a game. Team trainers would also be responsible for answering injury-related questions, rather than the coaches under the new guideline.