ACC expansion: Watered-down rivalries and random divisions

February 9, 2012

Remember all the great moments from the Wake Forest-N.C. State rivalry? Neither do we.

When the ACC raided the Big East a few years ago in a desperate attempt to become a football power, it ended one of the things that I used to love about the conference — every team played every other team once a year in football and twice in basketball.

I especially miss the double round-robin in basketball. The added familiarity with opponents better prepared ACC teams for March Madness, and it made conference rivalries stronger. If N.C. State lost its first game against one of the Big 4, I always knew there would be a rematch.

With the expansion to 12 teams, it was bad enough that N.C. State was no longer guaranteed to play Duke twice in basketball (or at all in football). With the conference growing to 14 in a year or two, it was inevitable that more rivals would play each other less frequently.

Under the new scheduling format announced last week, each basketball team gets one primary rival to play in a home-and-home every year. In N.C. State’s case, it’s Wake Forest. No offense to the Deacons, but the one home game that Wolfpackers care about above all others is against Carolina. Once every three years, the Tar Heels won’t have to come to Raleigh.

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The wonders of the ACC vault

March 2, 2011

Until recently, my favorite vault was the one you’ll see roughly 20 seconds into this immortal video clip:

Life IS like a hurricane in Duckburg!

That all changed when I discovered The ACC Vault. Launched last December, the Vault is a repository for highlights and full-length conference games dating back to the early 1980s. It’s also home to some of my favorite childhood sports memories.

The Vault isn’t perfect. There are some odd gaps in it; for instance, it includes no Duke- Carolina games after 2001, and the spelling in some of the highlight descriptions is pretty poor.

There’s no end to the joys you’ll find in the ACC Vault. Here are five that should bring back some memories. Read the rest of this entry »


The importance of a good application letter

March 1, 2011

Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert (center) beat out several other candidates, including former N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato, to become the Charlotte 49ers' first football coach.

The Charlotte 49ers announced today that Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert will be the school’s first football coach when the team debuts in 2013.

Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose admitted that she’d never even heard of Lambert before getting his application letter three weeks ago. Rose said:

“I read his letter of application and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, who is this guy?’ It was not your cookie cutter letter. No, it talked about growing up on a farm in Kansas, work ethic and what he would do as coach. So I started making phone calls.”

This is an important lesson for you soon-to-be college graduates out there: A good cover letter is crucial when applying for any job.
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Do you know your enemy?

November 27, 2009

When I was a freshman at N.C. State, I quickly learned that I needed to know four words in the fight song above all others. I could be forgiven for not knowing the rest as long as I shouted “Go to Hell, Carolina!” at the top of my lungs. (The actual words to the song are “Come over the hill, Caroline,” but really, what fun is that?)

For Wolfpack fans, it’s crystal clear that North Carolina is their rival. But Sports Illustrated has a survey out that shows every fan base in the ACC doesn’t have the same clarity, at least when it comes to figuring out who’s their main in-conference rival.

The SI survey covered every I-A conference in the country. Andy Staples wrote a summary of its results, including this description of how it came about:

In October, we asked college football fans of all stripes to tell us about themselves. We received 33,144 responses to questions such as “What is your favorite team?” and “How closely do you follow recruiting?” We received responses from fans of all 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and everyone’s answers counted the same — whether they came from Ohio State fans (the most, with 2,004 responses) or Florida Atlantic fans (the fewest, with four responses).

That last sentence tells me this wasn’t the most scientific survey, but that doesn’t make the data for the ACC any less interesting. Here’s how fans from each school answered the question “What is your biggest conference rival?”:

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Instead of Texting Pick ‘Em: Week 13

November 27, 2009

As is often the case with the holiday season, the last weekend of regular season ACC football seems a little anti-climactic.

Clemson clinched a spot in the conference title game last week, joining Georgia Tech for a rematch of their highly competitive game from week 2. Georgia Tech won the first half of that game, 24-0. Clemson took the second half, 27-6. The comeback wasn’t enough in a contest we’ll be revisiting next week.

Tech and Clemson take two final stabs at defending the ACC’s honor this week. The Yellow Jackets host nemesis Georgia, while Clemson travels to Columbia to play arch-rival South Carolina.

Elsewhere, the intraconference games largely match bottom- and middle-feeders. Duke and Wake Forest will meet in a matchup of two of the conference’s most prolific quarterbacks, eighth-year seniors Riley Skinner and Thaddeus Lewis. Maybe it only seems as though they’ve been playing college football that long.

Boston College seeks its second road win against Maryland.Virginia Tech seems likely to give Al Groh a rousing sendoff in what will probably be his last game coaching Virginia. Miami plays at South Florida in what may be the best matchup of the weekend.

Finally, we have the rotting husks of two rivalries: North Carolina plays at N.C. State, while Florida State travels to Gainesville to play Florida.

Closer to home, my lead in the IoT season standings is officially insurmountable. Jeremy and I differ on two games this week; sweeping them would only get Jeremy to within three games of me. I’d like to thank Boston College for nailing this one down for me by mailing in the Carolina game last week. At this time (midday) next week (Dec. 4), I’ll be getting ready to eat a steak in New York, courtesy of Jeremy. Or, chicken on a stick from a street vendor. Depends on my mood.

Onward:

Jimmy’s Picks (63-24) Jeremy’s Picks (58-29)
Clemson at South Carolina Clemson South Carolina
North Carolina
at N.C. State
North Carolina North Carolina
Wake Forest at Duke Duke Duke
Florida State at Florida Florida Florida
Virginia Tech at Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Georgia at Georgia Tech Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
Miami at South Florida Miami South Florida
Boston College at Maryland Boston College Boston College

Instead of Texting Pick ‘Em: Week 11

November 13, 2009

Three weeks from now, Team IoT will meet face-to-face in New York City. One of us will be buying a grossly overpriced steak for the other.

This weekly picks column will determine whose wallet gets lighter in The Big Apple. Right now, I’m holding a two-game lead on Jeremy. As has become our custom, we differ on two games this week: Miami at North Carolina and Boston College at Virginia.

Four of six ACC games Saturday will occur in central North Carolina. The corpse of Florida State, beheaded last week by the needless loss of quarterback Christian Ponder, is traveling to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest. Duke hosts Georgia Tech, the ACC’s last hope for national relevance. Miami visits Chapel Hill to play North Carolina. And N.C. State hosts C.J. Spiller and Clemson. A warning to the Wolfpack: I’ll be in the stands this week. State hasn’t won a game I’ve attended in five years.

A tangent: at Carter-Finley, I’ll be wearing my T.A. McLe … er, my Levar Fisher jersey. A funny story: at the last home game of the 2002 season, McLendon and Phil Rivers jerseys were both on sale for $20. “Why get a #17 that will only be useful for another year,” I thought. “You’ll be able to wear that 44 when Touchdown Anytime wins the Heisman in 2004! And hey, how about Kelly Rowland? Beyonce will rue the day she split with THAT hitmaker.” Way to be, Jimmy. Way to be.

Elsewhere, Virginia hosts Boston College, while Virginia Tech travels to College Park to play Maryland.

Jimmy’s Picks (53-23) Jeremy’s Picks (51-25)
Georgia Tech
at Duke
Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
Clemson
at N.C. State
Clemson Clemson
Florida State
at Wake Forest
Wake Forest Wake Forest
Virginia Tech
at Maryland
Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Miami
at North Carolina
North Carolina Miami
Boston College
at Virginia
Boston College Virginia

IoT’s Power Rankings: Week 10

November 12, 2009

As a former student reporter once said about a student government meeting, there was an awful lot of motion in the ACC last weekend with very little movement in the IoT power rankings. Most of the top and bottom of the rankings stayed the same, with some slight changes in the mushy middle.

Meanwhile, we’re trying something a little different with the power rankings this week. Jimmy is tackling the Coastal Division (a.k.a. – the better half of the conference), while I take on the Atlantic. This arrangement works out rather nicely because it gives me the chance to do some gloating about a bit of a dispute we’ve been having. More on that later in the rankings — much later.

On to the rankings:

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