Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Gene Corrigan said yesterday that he hoped an agreement could be worked out today between a fourth football bowl game and the alliance of the ACC, Big East and Notre Dame.
A meeting is scheduled in Atlanta with representatives from five bowls: the Fiesta, Citrus, Blockbuster, Holiday and Gator. The ACC, Big East and Notre Dame have agreed to a deal with the Cotton, Sugar and Orange bowls, beginning Jan. 1, 1993.
"I know what I hope is going to happen. I hope we can come to some type of agreement," said Corrigan.
Said Notre Dame athletic director Dick Rosenthal: "I think we're going to review each individual game, and I think it would be wonderful if an agreement can be reached. I am optimistic one can, but I don't think there's a critical deadline right now."
Since an agreement was worked out last month regarding the other three games, the Fiesta and Citrus bowls have been mentioned prominently as a possibility to be part of this alliance. But the year-old Blockbuster Bowl also has come into the picture recently.
Whichever bowl game is chosen will have to raise its payout to about $3 million per team. Last year, the Citrus Bowl paid $1.35 million each to Georgia Tech, which eventually shared a national championship with Colorado, and to Nebraska.
Under the agreement reached last month, the Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowl teams from the Big Eight, Southwest and Southeastern conferences will be seeded 1-2-3 in order of national ranking. The Big East and ACC teams and Notre Dame will be seeded similarly. The highest-ranked team from the Big Eight, SWC and SEC will play host to the highest-ranked team from the Big East, ACC and Notre Dame; the second-highest teams will play each other, as will the third teams.
The ACC is in the final year of a four-year agreement with the Citrus Bowl. Asked if he would prefer the Citrus Bowl as the fourth game, Corrigan said: "We obviously like the Citrus, and we'll do anything we can to help. On the other hand, we need everyone to give their presentations. The burden is on the bowls and then it's on all of us to agree."
Said Citrus Bowl spokesman Dylan Thomas: "Our team will show up. We will have the confidence. Whether we're going to be good and lucky, or just good, remains to be seen."
While the obstacle for the Citrus Bowl could be money, the problem for the Fiesta Bowl is image. After having the national-championship game twice between 1987 and 1989, the Fiesta Bowl last year found itself in a swirl of controversy when the state of Arizona voted against making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a paid holiday for state workers.
Rosenthal said yesterday that the Fiesta Bowl received unwarranted criticism. "They're wonderful people, and they've been exemplary in their approach toward equal opportunity," said Rosenthal, whose Fighting Irish beat West Virginia in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl to capture the national championship. "It's been a little unfortunate."