ACC Roundtable Roundup: Championship Game And Bowl Season Edition

We be hostin' this week's ACC Roundtable.

It was our turn to host this week's ACC Roundtable. You know the drill. We pose some questions, our excellent ACC blogger cohorts answer then, and we put a nice little bow on the responses.

Thanks to the usual suspects for contributing this week, namely: ACC SportsACC BloggerThe Key Play (Virginia Tech), Gobbler Country (Virginia Tech), Riddick & Reynolds (N.C. State), From The Rumble Seat (Georgia Tech), From Old VirginiaSoaring To Glory (BC), Tomahawk Nation (Florida State) and Tar Heel Fan.

 

1. Virginia Tech and Florida State seemed to acquit the ACC Championship Game well this year, turning in an entertaining 44-33 game in front of a crowd of 72,379 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Assess the success of the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in year one. How much of the success can be attributed to the host city, and how much can be attributed to the matchup? A little of A, a little of B?

Despite some complaints from the southern bloggers about the weather (cough, ACC Blogger, cough) and field conditions (Bud), year one of the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte seems to get the ACC Blogger seal of approval.

Jim Young at ACC Sports was pleased that the city of Charlotte made this "an event of note in the city," while the From The Rumble Seat boys enjoyed Charlotte's decreased carbon footprint and the fact that it's a city that embraces ACC football, unlike "college football apathetic" Tampa and "SEC country" Jacksonville. Even as a representative of the ACC's northernmost outfit, Soaring To Glory enjoyed this year's ACC Championship Game location due to the fact that it is much closer to the geographic center of the conference.

The Key Play's Hokies won, so he was pleased with the city of Charlotte, natch. Joe probably states best why the Championship Game was a success in year one:

"The reason why the game was "successful" was because it passed the eye test. It looked and sounded like a competitive football contest and not the Senior Bowl. The city and matchup were most definitely an equal parts catalyst for getting fans in the seats."

Fellow Hokie furrer4heisman, however, isn't ready to pass judgment on the Queen City as host:

"I don't think we'll be able to judge Charlotte as a host until at least after a second game there. The first ACCCG saw the same matchup at a site that favored Florida State and it was also a success. The proximity of Charlotte to Virginia Tech's fan base combined with the Hokies having two weeks to buy tickets led to a successful game at the box office.

However, we won't really know how well Charlotte can host the game until it gets an unfavorable matchup. The good thing about Charlotte is it's less likely to get an unfavorable matchup like Jacksonville and Tampa were because it's in close proximity to so many teams. In addition to the Hokies and Tobacco Road teams, Clemson and Georgia Tech fans can get there easily. It's if we ever got a Miami-Boston College matchup that we'll really be able to judge Charlotte. Then again, a Miami-BC ACCCG probably wouldn't sell out in Miami or Boston."

Basically, no one seems to want BC or Miami making an appearance in the game, like, ever. So much for sucking up to this week's hosts. Like, whatever.

 

2. Would you like to see Charlotte become the permanent home of the ACC Football Championship? Or would you be in favor of some alternate Championship Game format? (continuing to rotate the location, move to campus a la the Pac 12, etc.) Explain.

Again guys, get over the weather. This is college football. As The Key Plays, "Grab a bourbon and enjoy the cold."

Count ACC Sports as one that thinks Charlotte makes too much sense, noting that Florida State fans don't want to hear this ... which, as it turns out, is precisely what Florida State fans don't want to hear. Bud wants the ACC to follow the lead of the Pac 10 and have the team with the best conference record host, noting that college football should be "more collegiate, less corporate." Gobbler Country is also up for the move back to campus because it all but guarantees a sold out crowd for the game.

In a nut shell, the representatives from the larger football programs - Florida State and Virginia Tech - want the game to move to campus, duh. While the rest of us, well, don't. From The Rumble Seat is worried about visiting fan ticket sales, while Jim Young presents what I think is the most compelling reason NOT to move to campus. Namely, how the hell do you determine who gets home field advantage?

"Now, would you make it so that the Atlantic Division winner got to host one year and then the Coastal Division team the next? That seems awfully arbitrary. But if you go by conference record you'll get complaints if the division winner with the 6-2 mark played a tougher slate than the division winner that went 7-1. And how do you break the tie if their league records are the same? BCS ranking maybe?

I know! We can hold a midseason exhibition between all-stars in the Atlantic Division and all-stars in the Coastal Division! The winning side will get home field advantage for the ACC title game!
(pause)

You're right, that's an idiotic idea."

From Old Virginia agrees, calling the determinant of home field advantage a big deal. Which it is. Sure, Florida State and Miami (if they ever get there) will complain about traveling to Charlotte, but those grumbles would pale in comparison to having to travel to Alumni Stadium or even Bobby Dodd after having lost a tiebreaker.

Then again, I guess they don't have to worry about that, because FSU fans are convinced they will be playing in the Title game each year for the next 10 years. Odds are they'd get an ACC Championship Game at some point over that time span, right?

Other benefits to hosting the Championship in Charlotte:

  • As Riddick & Reynolds astutely points out, under the new ACC bowl selection rules, the loser of the title game isn't eligible to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, avoiding the awkwardness that we had when Jacksonville was host and the Gator Bowl avoided like the plague the title game's runner up.
  • Keeping the game in Charlotte also allows the game to develop its own brand, building familiarity with the local population a la the good folks of Atlanta and the SEC Championship.
  • As a "basketball guy," keeping the Championship in a centralized permanent location appeals to Tar Heel Fan's purist, Tobacco Road upbringing. And that's nice.
  • And as ACC Blogger points out, even high school state championships are held at neutral sites, and basically calls out the Pac 12 Championship as feeling very "high schoolish."

 

3. On to the ACC's 2010 slate of bowl games. How happy are you with your program's bowl placement? Did your team's bowl destination exceed or fall short of preseason expectations? (No, I didn't forget about you, Wake and Virginia. You can speak to general season results relative to preseason expectations here).

Let's go team by team here, with the conference-wide bloggers adding color to our team-specific slants:

Virginia Tech -- "Hokie, Hokie Championship High" (Blogger Approval Rating: 5/5)

The Key Play: "Obviously there was a lot of preseason National Championship talk around these parts, but the realistic expectation was another ACC Championship and Orange Bowl appearance. Even if we had run the table and gone 13-0 I think based on the perceived and actual weaknesses of the conference, we would have been left out of the MNC."

Gobbler Country: "Virginia Tech wound up exactly where I thought it would. I'm very happy to be heading to the Orange Bowl."

ACC Sports: "Right where we expected to be, just not exactly how we expected to get there."

Florida State -- "We'll Be Back ... Again And Again And Again ..." (Approval Rating: 5/5)

Tomahawk Nation: "Quite happy. FSU accomplished every single goal set by reasonable fans this year."

ACC Sports: "Would have been nice to win the ACC this season, but that's okay. We're set up to be a contender for years to come. Plus Miami and Florida both underachieved. That always makes us feel better."

Boston College -- We'll Take What We Can Get After Going Down 2-5 (Approval Rating: 3/5)

Soaring To Glory: "Going into the season, I thought we had a decent chance of ending up in Charlotte, but when you dig yourself a 2-5 hole, that's a good way to blow up the season. Yes, BC squeezed out five wins to close out the season, but three of those teams are terrible and the other two are so-so teams with their own issues that squeaked into bowls themselves. Some would argue that 7-5 is good considering where BC was in October, but relative to our preseason expectations, winning 7 games with a defense this stout and a schedule this easy is just not acceptable. BC let a few too many get away."

ACC Sports: "Given how bad things looked at midseason, I guess we should feel happy about a 7-5 record and a bowl game in San Francisco. But it stinks that we can't thumb our noses at the media for underestimating us again."

North Carolina -- As Much As Butch Davis & Co. Tried, We Still Won 7 Games (Approval Rating: 3/5)

Tar Heel Fan: "Given all of UNC's troubles this season, it is hard to complain about the bowl placement. Not to mention, the Heels had a legitimate chance at being 8-4 and working themselves into a better position but did not get the job done versus NC State...again. Still, Nashville is a nice destination for a bowl and its not another trip to Charlotte. There is the added bonus of facing Tennessee who ducked out of a home-and-home series slated to begin next season. Nothing would be sweeter than to knock the Vols off in their home state after they backed out of playing the Heels."

ACC Sports: "We don't really need to explain why this season didn't live up to expectations, do we? Good. We're hopeful that the worst is over and most of us would like to have Butch Davis back. If we don't get hammered too hard by the NCAA, we think the future's bright. We'd like that future to include some wins over the Wolfpack, though."

Georgia Tech -- At Least The Weather Is Nice In Shreveport This Time Of Year? (Approval Rating: 2.5/5)

From The Rumble Seat: "I'll be blunt. Shreveport sucks. It's a pretty far for most Tech fans (9.5 hours from ATL). We're playing a good opponent, which is promising but I don't see the average Tech fan making the trip especially considering we finished the season in disappointing fashion. Shreveport is on the East-ish Coast and most modern Tech fans are just happy with East Coast bowl bids. Personally, I thought the season was pretty disappointing and if there was a GT team that didn't deserve a bowl bid since 2003, it was this team. We only beat one I-A team with a winning record, feasting on cupcakes while choking on the prime rib."

ACC Sports: "Disappointed. We know Al Groh's 3-4 defense was going to need some time to take hold, but ... ummm, when's that supposed to happen? We're still behind Paul Johnson, but we're very curious to see how things go next year when Joshua Nesbitt and Anthony Allen aren't around. We're not going to Shreveport. At least not many of us are."

Virginia -- Preseason Expectations? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Preseason Expectations (Approval Rating: 2/5)

From Old Virginia: "'Preseason expectations' implies we had some kind of generally accepted win/loss number below which the season would be a failure. 4-8 doesn't register on any pass/fail metric. Some things (the offense, Miami game) were better than expected, some things (the defense, Duke game) were worse. I don't see the point in bothering to evaluate the season based on expectations. Better to ignore expectations and evaluate what happened rather than what should have happened, because there's a new coaching regime and nothing "should" have happened."

ACC Sports: "On the whole, not bad. Didn't enjoy getting watching Marc Verica throw interceptions and really didn't enjoy getting whacked by the Hokies (again). But Mike London's in-state recruiting gives us hope for the future. Plus, Al Groh's defense at Georgia Tech stunk. That was a nice bonus."

N.C. State -- Wake Up One Morning To Find Out BC Fans Might Have Actually Been Right? (Approval Rating: Incomplete)

Riddick & Reynolds: "State might be the only fanbase among the BCS conference somewhat disappointed with finding itself in the #3 bowl tie-in after preseason predictions largely had us missing a bowl game altogether. Why? When you look at what might've been, you ache at knowing how close State was to playing in a much more significant bowl with higher stakes."

ACC Sports: "Back in August, 8-4 and a Champs Bowl berth would have been cause for celebration. Now? Don't get us wrong, it's still nice but ... a small part of us wondering if this whole "TOB can't win the big one" argument put forth by BC fans is really true. We're also wondering, with every 5-star recruit FSU reels in, if our window of opportunity to win the Atlantic might be closing."

 

4. Looking at the conference's bowl schedule as a whole, how many games do you have the conference winning? Is this the year the conference has a breakout year come bowl season?

ACC Sports is drinking the ACC Kool-Aid (Oh Yeah!), after making up a few quick predictions and coming up with a 7-2 ACC record. No, Jim, that can't be right. ACC Blogger takes a slightly less optimistic (and much less scientific) approach, saying the ACC will go 5-4. Tar Heel Fan thinks the ACC will win between 8 and 1 games this season ...

For those bloggers who manned up and actually picked each bowl game, Chart!

TKP TN R&R FTRS STG
Orange Virginia Tech Stanford Virginia Tech Stanford ??
Peach Florida State South Carolina "Cocks" Florida State ??
Champs Sports N.C. State N.C. State N.C. State ?? ??
Sun Notre Dame Miami ?? Miami ??
Meineke Car Care Clemson Clemson South Florida Clemson ??
Music City UNC UNC UNC UNC ??
Independence Air Force Georgia Tech Georgia Tech ?? ??
Military Maryland Maryland East Carolina Maryland ??
Kraft Fight Hunger Nevada Nevada Nevada Nevada Nevada

General consensus is no breakout season for the ACC. Le sigh.

 

5. Clearly, there are many factors other than on-field performance that go into bowl selections (travel rep, ticket sales, travel distances). Pretend for a moment that the ACC placed teams in our conference's bowl games 1-9 based solely on their on-field performance this season (you can rank 1-9 anyway you see fit). Holding our bowl opponents fixed, how does your answer to question 4 change? Does the ACC then win more or less bowl games this year?

This question required a bit of heavy lifting, and understandably I got a bit of grumbles about that. Admittedly, this question was a bit self-serving. I've always felt that when teams like BC and Maryland play lesser bowl opponents, their selection throws the yearly ACC bowl record out of whack because of it. E.g. in 2007, if BC played in the Peach Bowl, might the ACC have gone 3-0 in bowls 2-4 instead of just 1-2?

Doesn't seem to be the case this year. Most bloggers seem to agree the ACC either wins the same amount of games this year, or might even drop another game. As From The Rumble Seat puts it,

"I think the ACC wins about the same. The lack of consistency throughout the middle of conference pecking order (Clemson, GT, NC State, Miami, UNC) really hurts my bowl predicting abilities. I don't think anyone will be able to predict how some of these ACC teams will perform considering the late season disappointments or head coach terminations."

Sound about right. Maryland seems to be the lone team that was given the shaft this year, but remember they did roll up five ACC wins against the bottom four teams in the league (Wake, Duke, Virginia, BC) and N.C. State. Not exactly a murderer's row of ACC opponents there.

 

6. Last one. The home of the ACC Champion has been the redheaded step child of BCS bowls the past few seasons. The Orange Bowl has been awarded either the Big East champ or a BCS at-large leftover the past few seasons and the casual fan has responded with some of the lowest TV ratings in BCS bowl history. Did the Hokies/ACC dodge a bullet not drawing an 8-4 Big East champ UConn in the Orange Bowl? Or would you have rather have had the Hokies face an easier opponent to improve on the ACC's 2-10 record in BCS bowls?

Tar Heel Fan thinks the ACC "is damned if they do and damned if they don't," while Soaring To Glory would have enjoyed watching the Hokies kick the crap out of the Huskies (though he's pretty sure OU will take care of that). 

Gobbler Country is not a wuss, and says bring on the Cardinal. Meanwhile, Tomahawk Nation takes a shot at Virginia Tech, claiming they have not consistently proven that they can beat elite teams. Blogger fight!

From The Rumble Seat appears a bit jaded from last year's Orange Bowl experience, lamenting what they think will be yet another low rating BCS bowl game for the conference:

"Ratings-wise, no the Hokies did not dodge the bullet. Iowa had a bigger fan base than Stanford last season and our Orange Bowl was still the worst rated BCS bowl. An at large team has no draw. No really cares about Stanford outside of Andrew Luck's potential #1 Draft pick status but that's relatively irrelevant to the average CFB fan. It's sort of like playing Wake Forest on steroids as far as TV ratings are concerned. So prepare to be the lowest rated BCS game again Orange Bowl."

Not to be outdone, From Old Virginia hands-down gives the best response to this question. Must be something about seeing your in-conference arch-rivals in BCS bowl after BCS bowl that gets under Brendan's skin.

"Fuck that, I'd rather have the Hokies playing the New England Patriots to improve their chances of getting their asses kicked. An improved ACC record in the BCS is simply the consolation prize for a Hokies win."

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