The lengthy list of folks who are shocked that the Atlantic Coast Conference has placed two of its schools in the Associated Press football Top 10 includes the league's commissioner, Gene Corrigan.
"Am I surprised? Yeah, I had no idea that we'd have two teams in the Top 10 this time of year," Corrigan said yesterday.
But while he is pleased to showcase fourth-ranked Georgia Tech and No. 8 Virginia, Corrigan also is disappointed that the ACC hasn't reaped the maximum benefit from its good fortune.
"In a lot of ways that's reflected in the lack of national television exposure that we've had this year," Corrigan said. "We had more television exposure last year than we did this year on a national level between ESPN and CBS, which has been very frustrating."
The ACC can make up for that, in part, on New Year's Day, when, barring upsets tomorrow, Virginia and Georgia Tech will be playing in major bowl games.
But the threat of the havoc that a Georgia Tech loss to lowly Wake Forest tomorrow, as well as the circus atmosphere surrounding bowl invitations, has spurred Corrigan to call for a change in the way things are done.
"When you go through a week or two weeks like we've been through, it's exhausting for everybody," said Corrigan. "If the athletic director doesn't get the guy in the right game, then everybody's mad at the AD and the coach is on the phone and it's crazy."
Corrigan said the ACC is considering ending its four-year agreement with the Florida Citrus Bowl, when the current contract runs out after this season.
The deal ties the league's winner to the Orlando-based game in alternate years, while giving the bowl the option to invite the champion in other years.
Georgia Tech will host Nebraska as the ACC champ in the Citrus Bowl, while Virginia, the all but certain runner-up, will meet the Southeastern Conference winner in the Sugar Bowl.
However, if the Yellow Jackets, the nation's only remaining undefeated team, lose to Wake Forest tomorrow, and the Cavaliers beat Maryland, Virginia would go to the Citrus Bowl as league titlists.
But then what would happen to Georgia Tech? Corrigan is afraid to ask and wonders aloud if something better can't be arranged.
"I think the people who run the Citrus Bowl are terrific and in a lot of ways, it would be great if we maintain that," said Corrigan. "But it does create difficulties.
"If Wake Forest wins, Virginia is going to the Citrus Bowl. They aren't going to the Sugar Bowl. Now, is the Sugar Bowl going to take Georgia Tech?"
Corrigan, who was in Baltimore to plug the conference's football awards banquet to be held at the Omni Feb. 15, thinks the confusion stems from the bowl system itself.
"We don't conduct any of our other championships like that," said Corrigan. "All the NCAA championships are fairly orderly done. It doesn't mean that people are always happy, in terms of who gets selected. But they're reasonably orderly, and this is one that we don't do."
But Corrigan is quick to add he is not in favor of a playoff system to determine a national champion.
Rather, he favors the institution of a selection committee, much like the one that issues invitations to the Division I-A basketball tournament, that would extend bids to teams and assign them to bowl slots.
"If you have an agreement with the bowl, then obviously you go to that bowl if you're the champion of that league," said Corrigan.
"If you don't, then maybe you get placed in that bowl. Maybe Virginia ends up in the same place they are, and Georgia Tech and Nebraska end up in the same place. But the process of arriving there is maybe more standardized than it is now."
In other developments, Corrigan said the league did not counsel Virginia on whether to accept a bid to the Fiesta Bowl.
The Cavaliers had considered playing in the Arizona-based game before voters in that state rejected a proposal to make the birthday of Martin Luther King a state holiday. Virginia then accepted a bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Corrigan again stressed the league's interest in bringing a doubleheader in next season's ACC-Big East Challenge basketball series to the Baltimore Arena.
He said the league had not yet held serious discussions with Centre Management, which operates the Arena, but had talked about the concept informally.
ACC basketball tourney to change
Atlantic Coast Conference athletic directors will decide next February on a new format for the men's basketball tournament to accommodate the entry of Florida State, which will become the ACC's ninth member in July.
ACC spokesman Tom Mickle said yesterday the conference might adopt the Big East format, where the eighth- and ninth-place teams play, with the winner advancing to face the top seed the next day.
More likely, Mickle said, is a format where the sixth- and ninth-place teams would play and the seventh- and eighth-place teams would play to advance to the second day, giving the second through fifth seeds byes into the second round.
The winner of the 7-8 game would play the second seed on Friday, and the third seed would face the winner of the 6-9 game.
The fourth and fifth seeds would play in another game, with the winner advancing to play the top seed, the conference regular-season champion, which would receive a bye to the third round.