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Headlines: The Blame Game, ACCCG Edition

Brian: We seem to be doling out our fair share of blame regarding the ACC Championship Game performance by the Eagles. So I figured, why stop there? Marcus over at ACC Football Report has an interesting post about the failed experiment that is the ACC Championship Game. Jeff, who's to blame for a third straight year of poor attendance in the ACC Championship game? Your suspects include:
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference - for gambling and losing, betting on an annual Florida State vs. Miami rematch in the Championship game and arrogantly placing this game smack in the middle of the two most Southern schools in the conference. For thinking that they could stage a championship game instantly on par with the Big XII and the SEC, when the conference makeup of these conferences vis a vis the ACC is vastly different. The ACC isn't made up of these bohemeth football first State U schools and live and die with college football. Instead, the ACC is made up of four, very small private schools, a handful of basketball-first schools (Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia), and a few football first large state universities that largely haven't lived up to the hype since expansion (Clemson, Florida State, NC State)
  • The City of Tampa - these games don't market themselves, for practically giving away tickets to this game and for making this game look even worse than it already does
  • Raymond James Stadium - it's a freaking Big East stadium! I though we expanded to move away from associating ourselves with anything even remotely close to the Big East?
  • Boston College fans - The Eagles reportedly sold only 4,800 tickets for the last two championship games, yet there are upwards of 30,000 Alumni Stadium season ticket holders. The casual BC fan/season ticket holder didn't show up.
  • Virginia Tech fans - For cashing it in and not attending this game and waiting for the bowl game. Yes, Tampa is a further drive than Jacksonville. So what? Were you actually expecting to lose this game? Why didn't you show up?
  • Heather Dinich - for calling out the conference and opening her championship game day post with this:
    "It's hard not to think how much more of a buzz there would be if Miami and Florida State were playing in this game. It's the perfect location for it, and it's just what this championship game needs to inject some excitement into it. By the time the game moves to Charlotte in 2010, Miami and FSU will probably be playing in it, if it doesn't happen next year."
    You are the freaking four-letter network ACC blogger, for crying out loud. And you wonder why the ACC Championship game is being dragged through the mud when one of your conference "representatives" is publicly lamenting the fact that Florida State and Miami aren't playing in the Championship game. Besides, the U doesn't travel that well. They can only get 30k to attend their home games. Besides, if it really was Seminoles-Hurricanes part 2, the city of Tampa would complain about something else (e.g. lack of hotel rooms and restaurant business given it is a day trip for most FSU/Miami fans). It's a no win situation in my opinion.
  • Clemson and Florida State - for letting two of the smallest schools in the ACC Atlantic represent the division the last three years, for failing to live up to ridiculously high expectations set forth at these football-first schools
  • The City of Charlotte - for having scheduling conflicts and not allowing this game to be played in Charlotte this year or next year
  • The Florida Gators - ACC football will always play second-fiddle to SEC football in the state of Florida. Of course, it didn't help that God's conference staged the "Game of the Millennium" at 4:30 in Atlanta the same day
  • Georgia Tech - for losing the turnover battle 3-0 back in September and getting jobbed by the refs in a 20-17 loss in Blacksburg that sent the Hokies to the title game instead of the Jackets
  • ACC parity - the lack of a national championship contender from the ACC, 7 losses between the Hokies and the Eagles going into the ACCCG (the most combined losses ever in the Championship game)
  • The casual ACC fan - non-existent at the ACCCG this year. We saw exactly 1 North Carolina fan, 4 Miami fans clad in green Hurricane uniforms, and a handful of Florida State fans.
  • The rematch factor - Boston College and Virginia Tech are "rivals" according to the ACC schedule such that they play each other every year. The ACC seemed to luck out its first two years given that the first two title games weren't rematches, but when you pair good Atlantic teams with good Coastal teams annually during the regular season, i.e. forcing the Hokies and Eagles to play each other in the regular season, Florida State and Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech, and so on and so forth, my guess is ACCCG rematches will be the norm rather than the exception going forward.
  • ACC Division alignment - the current Atlantic-Coastal alignment makes no sense and casual fans can't remember which team is in which division based on this arbitrary divide. Plus it would seem that the schools that would heavily attend an ACCCG are more on the Atlantic side (NC State, Florida State, Clemson) than the Coastal side (Virginia Tech and ...? Georgia Tech, maybe, but that's it). The conference has been lucky(?) to have the Hokies in the big game three of the last four years?
Jeff: Wow, that's a lot of choices. I am dismissing the first option you gave me because I think you are wrong in saying the only reason the ACC placed the game in Florida was in hopes of Florida State and/or Miami playing in the game. Instead, I think the ACC placed the game there for the same reason bowl games are played in the sunshine state. It's a December game and Florida is the only place to find decent weather. The Big 12 has north and south divisions, the SEC has east and west so those conference have to place the game somewhere that is close to divisional lines. Meanwhile the ACC has stupid divisions that have nothing to do with geography and therefore they can place the game anywhere on the East coast so they did. Florida made a lot more sense to some guys sitting in a few meetings than DC or Charlotte or any other cities they threw out there. But anyway, here's my top 7 of the remaining choices given.

1. Virginia Tech fans. You are supposed to be one of the best traveling teams in the country let alone the ACC. Where were you in Tampa? Tampa was only 3 hours further than Jacksonville by car and you only brought approximately the same number of fans as BC compared to approximately 4 or 5 times more last year.

2. ACC parity. At no point during the season did either BC or VT fans have confidence that they were going to this game since. Then once their team got there, fans didn't get too excited by playing another team that wasn't even in the top 15.

T-3. Georgia Tech. Regarded by almost everyone to be the best team in the league yet they finished one win away from the game. Georgia Tech fans would've traveled en mass to Tampa after their Georgia win and BC fans would've gotten very excited for the opportunity to avenge the Eagles' early September loss.

T-3. The rematch factor. Having a rematch from the regular season is no big deal but having a rematch from last year's game when attendance was already very poor really put a damper on this game. Everyone who has ever attended a sold out football game and a half full stadium football game will agree that having a packed house makes the game more enjoyable to attend. Both fan bases knew attendance would be similar to 2007 and therefore got less excited about the rematch.

5. Florida-Alabama. This was a dream matchup for the SEC and CBS. It was a national title semifinal just as advertised and ESPN talked about this game almost exclusively leading up to Saturday. Also, casual fans wanted to be in front of a TV at 4:30 and not traveling home from the ACC Championship Game.

6. The City of Charlotte. After the 2006 and 2007 ACCCGs the ACC realized the needed a centrally located Championship game ASAP. Props to the conference for trying but Charlotte why couldn't you have been available?????? Brian and I both had massive hangovers Sunday and a shorter trip home would've benefitted both of us and Virginia Tech might have single handedly sold out the game in Charlotte given its proximity to Blacksburg. Tallahassee is the closest ACC city to Tampa at 275 miles away. Meanwhile Wake Forest, NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Georgia Tech are all located closer to Charlotte than 275 miles away. That's 8 of 12 ACC are located closer to Charlotte than any teams are located to Tampa. The game in Charlotte won't sell out every year because of the potential of say a BC-Miami matchup but it will sell out a lot more often than it doesn't.

7. BC fans. BC traveled much much much better relative to Virginia Tech considering proximity of the game and the size of their student body and alums. But still, more BC fans should have been in attendance rather than at home commenting on and bitching that we have a reputation for traveling poorly and are therefore dropping to the Music City bowl to play 6-6 Vanderbilt.

Brian: That's a lot of blame to go around, but I find it surprising (dare I say, shocking?!) that the Conference doesn't shoulder any of the blame in your opinion. Yet you put BC fans on the list with an undergrad enrollment of 9,081 and many more casual fans than die-hards.

So how does the conference fix the problem? And what if Charlotte doesn't work out?

Jeff: The conference fixed the problem by moving the game to Charlotte. The game will be a hot ticket there because of proximity to the schools in the game alone. Meanwhile, on average the two teams competing in the game will be ranked higher nationally than they were this year. There won't be the SEC dream game to compete with and the economy hurting ticket sales so the ACC Championship Game will get more hype and will be better attended. Nothing needs to be done beyond moving the game in 2010.