This week's ACC Roundtable is brought to you by the the NC State blog Yet Another NC State Sports Blog. Apparently the rest of the ACC is busy preparing for a rivalry game, while BC gets ready to play a meaningless game against Maryland. Their questions and our answers below.
1) The ACC scheduling gods really did their best this year to ensure a true "rivalry" week to conclude the season. Here in North Carolina, the two large state schools (N.C. State and Carolina) and the two smaller private schools (Duke and Wake) face off against one another. Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech all face off against in-state foes. Even the Boston College/ Maryland game has a twinge of regional flavor to it, pitting the two northern-most schools of the ACC against one another. On paper, is this the best rivalry week lineup in recent memory?
Sure BC-Maryland has a bit of a regional flavor to it but I wouldn't necessarily say this is a rivalry game. The league has been trying to force feed an Eagles-Terps rivalry game since we joined the league in 2005 by placing this game as either the last game of the season or late into November. But really, other than geography, the Eagles and Terps don't share much in the form of a rivalry so we appear to be the outliers this week. BC will join in on the rivalry week fun starting next year when they begin an 11 game series with former Big East rival Syracuse. Our AD has mentioned a few times that they plan to have this game annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This series will start in 2010, take a two year break in 2011 and 2012, and resume in 2013-2021.
As for the rest of the conference, on paper this might be one of the best rivalry week lineups in recent memory. But on the field, these games leave a lot to be desired. I'm not sure anyone will care outside of each team's respective regions. No team is playing for bowl eligibility. Clemson and Georgia Tech are playing for nothing more than bragging rights. Only one of four NC teams is going bowling. Florida State is a three touchdown underdog to the Gators. Miami (Fla.)-South Florida isn't a rivalry game with only one game ever played between the two programs. And I'm sure Virginia Tech will take again take Virginia to the woodshed.
Nice attempt by the league's scheduling office, but much like this year's college football season, rivalry week seems to be a bit of a dud.
2) Clemson and Georgia Tech will face one another in the ACC title game. Do you think both teams facing out-of-conference rivals the week prior will help or hurt either team's performance in the big game, depending on the outcomes of these rivalry games?
I think these games have the potential to hurt either team's performance rather than help. Emotions can run high and you would hate to see a key player on either side get injured while playing hard to get the W in these rivalry games. As far as whether these two games give either team an advantage in the ACC Championship, I might give the slight edge to Clemson as they are playing against a better defense than Georgia Tech will be this weekend. However, I don't subscribe to the notion that a loss by either team will affect their performance in the title game.
3) It's the tail end of the season and you know what that means: Coaching Carousel Time! I'm a firm believer in giving a coach five years to prove his worth before even considering a change...at least I *was*, until I saw how quickly Paul Johnson and Brian Kelly turned their respective programs into top-10 squads. With an ever-increasing desire from fanbases to WIN NOW, is five years still "industry standard," or can coaches legitimately be expected to show marked improvement in four years or less before finding a pink slip in their inbox? How bad would a situation have to be to fairly jettison a head coach before year five?
Although Paul Johnson and Brian Kelly have been able to quickly turn their programs into top-10 squads, I think you still have to wait five years to see the full effect that a coach has on a program. The turnarounds at Georgia Tech and Cincinnati have been very impressive, but you don't have to look further than South Bend to see a case where five years (and not two) are more emblematic of your effect on the program. Call it the Charlie Weis litmus test. His records in South Bend: 9-3, 10-3, 3-9, 7-6, 6-5. If Charlie Weis can last five years in South Bend and weather a 3-9 season, I think you have to consider this the "industry standard." Although the five year rule largely depends on the program and the expectations surrounding the program. See: Mike Shula at Alabama who only lasted four years.
4) Certainly the four-letter network likes to pimp the big rivalries-- Ohio State Vs. Michigan, Texas Vs. Oklahoma, etc.--but I think the ACC has quite a few solid rivalries that never get the coverage they deserve. Where do you think your school's rivalry rates in terms of passion, prestige and what's at stake each season? What steps--beyond the obvious "win more"--could be taken to improve the visibility of your team's rivalry matchup every year?
Since BC doesn't have a rivalry game this week, I'll focus on the other ACC rivalries and what can be done to improve the visibility of these games:
- Florida-Florida State - send ESPN College Gameday to campus to create buzz for a game that features a 21 point underdog (check)
- Georgia Tech-Georgia - the Rambling Wreck runs over the next Uga. Too soon?
- Clemson-South Carolina - more above .500 seasons for South Carolina in the SEC
- NC State-North Carolina - these two teams play in a very rare college football doubleheader - in the final regular season game and the ACC Championship (try to hold back your laughter)
- Wake Forest-Duke - disband both school's basketball programs citing budget shortfalls
- Virginia-Virginia Tech - UVa hires Bud Foster as HC
- Miami-South Florida - play more games against one another
5) Few rivalries in the South have as much tradition, passion and generated as much heated discussion as a good ol' fashioned barbecue debate. Here in North Carolina it's Eastern versus Lexington style, and a good many shouting matches have arisen between folks east of I-95 and those godless heathens that put ketchup and brown sugar in their "dip." No doubt similar verbal wars have been waged on behalf of your favorite barbecue, as well, so the question is this: In an all- out, Armageddon-type scenario where the righteous are separated from the unholy on the basis of what type of barbecue they bring to the judgment table, what style of barbecue are you bringing and who--among the purveyors of this style of 'cue in your state--will you select to be your Champion?
Eastern style? Lexington style? Hell if I know. I'll go with Brother Jimmy's style (the one on the Upper East Side, not the one near the Garden). Which type of barbecue is that?