Jacksonville lands title games in 2005, '06

The Atlantic Coast Conference will hold its first football championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., the league announced yesterday.

The city beat out six others for the honor, including Baltimore, which was considered a long shot to land the game.


ACC faculty representatives unanimously chose Jacksonville over Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Orlando, Fla., Baltimore, Tampa, Fla., and Washington in a conference call Wednesday. The agreement calls for Jacksonville to host the game in 2005 and 2006, with the league holding an option to keep the game there in 2007 and 2008.

The first title game will be Dec. 3, 2005, at Alltel Stadium and is expected to bring in around $6 million in revenue to the ACC. Getting a league championship game was the driving force behind ACC expansion. NCAA rules state that a league can only hold a championship game if the conference has 12 teams. With Miami and Virginia Tech joining the league this year, and Boston College joining in 2005, the ACC will meet that number.


League commissioner John Swofford said the decision was difficult because every city put together a desirable bid that exceeded the league's projections.

"It's a nice issue to have," Swofford said. "We've said before [the] financial aspect of all this is important to our schools. We don't release specific numbers, but Jacksonville was the strongest bid financially.

"Really though, Jacksonville's bid was the strongest overall. We looked at the full package, not just the financial package. We felt the community was truly ready to embrace this game, and make it special for participants in game."

Alltel Stadium - also home to the Gator Bowl - seats around 77,000, and that proved to be one of the determining factors. Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett sweetened the city's initial bid by guaranteeing a sellout. Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton estimated the game would be worth $50 million to the city's economy.

Steffy makes a move

Maryland freshman quarterback Jordan Steffy has a sore arm, but that hasn't stopped him from impressing Terps coach Ralph Friedgen this week.

Friedgen said Steffy got more reps than Sam Hollenbach or Ryan Mitch during Wednesday's evening practice, and admitted there is "a chance" Steffy could emerge from Saturday's scrimmage as Maryland's No. 2 quarterback. Sophomore Joel Statham is still No. 1.

"[Steffy] made a huge leap [Wednesday]," Friedgen said. "I'm pretty impressed with him right now. He's starting to make a move. I'm anxious to see how he'll do in the scrimmage. His arm's killing him right now, and yet he's still playing pretty good, which shows me he's a tough guy. ... He's very instinctive, and he's seeing things and making plays. I'm amazed at how well he's doing."


Steffy said his arm isn't injured and that he doesn't expect to miss any time.

Extra points

Terps linebacker Shawne Merriman was back yesterday after missing three practices with a hamstring injury. ... Defensive lineman Rob Armstrong didn't practice for the second straight day because of a back injury. ... Linebacker Erin Henderson strained tendons in his foot and was walking in a protective boot yesterday, but said it was just precautionary. He expects to be back in the next day or so. ... Friedgen is impressed with freshman running back Keon Lattimore, and said he could move up the depth chart after Saturday's scrimmage.