Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Today we play a game of good cop / bad cop and discuss various items wrapping up the ACC college football regular season.
Let's get our first suspect:
Suspect #1: Coach Jags as the real ACC Coach of the Year
Jeff as Bad Cop: Boston College went 9-3 this year and 5-3 in the ACC. BC has two losses to unranked teams, including one at home. More importantly, BC is the defending ACC Atlantic Champion. BC should have competed for the division crowd and the ACC Championship again this year with the large number of defensive players they had returning. Meanwhile, at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson took a team that was not at all a factor in the ACC Championship last year to a team that is now ranked the highest of all ACC teams. Add to that the fact that they have the best win of any team this year in the road win over Georgia last Saturday. Paul Johnson should be coach of the year.
Brian as Good Cop: Well Paul Johnson IS ACC Coach of the Year and Jeff Jagodzinski finished second. However, I think you can make the case for Jags over Paul Johnson due to all the pieces Jags lost from last year's 11-3 team. ESPN's Pat Forde knows what I'm talking about. And it's not like Paul Johnson inherited a team whose cupboard was completely bare. Georgia Tech returned one of the top defenses in the league. All Johnson had to do was install his patented, gimmicky flexbone offense to achieve a lot of success in a league devoid of offense. Last year, Jags was beat out for Coach of the Year to Virginia's Al Groh. Virginia went 9-4 last year and barely beat North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Connecticut, Maryland and Wake Forest. Jags should have got Coach of the Year this year to make up for all the naysayers that said he was riding TOB's coattails. If Jags goes 11-3 again THIS year and brings BC and the ACC a BCS bowl victory, there is no question who the real ACC Coach of the Year is.
Suspect #2: NC State as the best team in the ACC right now, as stated by HC Tom O'Brien
Brian as Bad Cop: So I realize that Tom O'Brien is trying to sell the Wolfpack to get an at-large bowl selection, but this statement is just ridiculous. Yes, the Wolfpack has won four straight games, but you know who else has won four straight games? The Eagles! After losing 6 of their first 8 games, the Wolfpack has beat Duke and North Carolina on the road, and struggling Wake Forest and the Baby Canes at home. During that same four game stretch, BC beat Notre Dame and Maryland at home, and Florida State and Wake Forest on the road. Did NC State beat Maryland? No. Did NC State beat Florida State at home? No. Did NC State beat Boston College at home? No. End of argument.
Yes, Tom O'Brien, you have a very high strength of schedule (only team you played with a losing record is Duke), but I would not go as far to say that you are the best team in the ACC right now. NC State is one of the hottest teams in the ACC, but, they aren't even close to the best team in the ACC right now. Take a number behind Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech for that distinction.
Jeff as Good Cop: NC State is one of the best teams in the ACC now. NC State has been good all season when they've been healthy. But in order to consider them one of the best you have to expand the best teams in the ACC list to include Boston College who beat them at home, Florida State who beat them at home, Maryland who beat them, Clemson who destroyed them, Georgia Tech who is the highest ranked ACC team, and Virginia Tech who is headed to the ACC Championship game. Yes coach, NC State is one of the 7 best ACC teams. I completely agree with you.
Suspect #3: Tampa as Location of ACC Championship Game
Jeff as Good Cop: I will have a much stronger opinion of Tampa as the ACC Championship Game host after Saturday but right now I am happy with it. As of right now you can still get a flight from Friday to Sunday out of Boston or NYC for under $300 round trip after taxes. Also, you can get a hotel room within a mile of the stadium for under $60.00 per night. The problem with Jacksonville was that you could not find either of these. BC fans have access to get to Tampa that they did not have going to Jacksonville last year. In addition to accessibility, it is going to be warm and sunny on Saturday which is the clear advantage of having the game in Florida instead of Charlotte next year or somewhere further north in the future.
Brian as Bad Cop: It's a "not so secret" secret that the ACC Championship game was first staged in Florida (Jacksonville for the first three years, and now Tampa for 2008 and 2009) in hopes of an annual Florida State vs. Miami matchup. Aside from the first year for the title game that saw Florida State beat Virginia Tech in front of 72,749, neither the FSU or Miami programs or the attedance figures for this game have lived up to the hype. Since then, the ACCCG has seen its smallest school from North Carolina play in the big game, Georgia Tech, and now back-to-back BC-Virginia Tech games. Until FSU and Miami are "back," I'm done pandering to these programs. Let's move this thing to Charlotte or even Gillette Stadium. If its going to be Boston College vs. Virginia Tech every year, why stage the thing in Florida? The state of Florida is good for bowl games and spring training, not a conference championship for a conference that is geographically spread out over 1,500 miles. And if weather was a factor, we wouldn't have awarded the city of Charlotte the game in two years and the Big XII wouldn't play their championship in Kansas City, MO, where the temperature is going to dip as low as 32 degrees Saturday night.
Suspect #4: 9-3 Boston College as ACC's Most Surprising Team
Brian as Good Cop: I will play the good cop on this one. Boston College is the ACC's most surprising team. Anyone outside of this program couldn't even fathom seeing BC win the Atlantic Division this year. Jagodzinski lost Matt Ryan, Andre Callendar and L.V. Whitworth on offense, and Tribble/Silva/Dunbar on the defensive side of the ball to graduation. Add to this losing Brady Smith (preseason), Brian Toal, James McClusky, Alex Albright, Clarence Megwa, and our starting quarterback Chris Crane, and Jags has certainly turned lemons into lemonade. Enough can't be said about the job the coaching staff has done this year with all the injuries and attrition due to graduation. With all due respect to Georgia Tech, Duke, and Clemson (the other type of surprise), BC is this year's most surprising team.
Jeff as Bad Cop: There is no way that I am going to agree with you that the team which finished highest in the rankings of all ACC teams after bowl season last year is now the most surprising team in the ACC by going 9-3. NC State has won 4 in a row in order to become bowl eligible so I think they could be the ACC's most surprising team. Maryland beat 5 ranked teams this season so that should get some consideration for most surprising team. Miami has shown some signs that they are taking significant steps towards becoming a great program again. Georgia Tech finished 9-3 with a new coach which was certainly a surprise. And finally, Clemson who was picked preseason top 10 in every major publication and got a lot of National Championship talk. Clemson the laid an egg against Alabama, lost at home to Maryland and Georgia Tech and did not become bowl eligible until the final Saturday of the year. The ACC has some stories this year, but BC is not one of them.
Suspect #5: Loser of ACCCG Falling To Music City Bowl
Jeff as Good Cop: I have no problem with this for two reasons. First, there is very little separating the top teams in the ACC and the tenth team. Second, Boston College and Virginia Tech are being treated equally here. Last year BC fell to Orlando after losing the ACCCG but we all know Virginia Tech would not have fallen that far in the bowl pecking order had they lost. Finally, if we went to Orlando again it would be to play Wisconsin who is terrible. They barely beat Cal Poly in OT. I'd rather fall to Nashville and at least play an SEC team in front of a larger crowd.
Brian as Bad Cop: You won't be able to play the good cop on this one, Jeff, when BC beats Virginia Tech and the Champs Sports Bowl takes Virginia Tech over Florida State. That wouldn't necessarily be treating these teams equally now, would it? Besides, this is essentially providing disincentives for making the ACC Championship game and falling short. The ACCCG runner-up always seems to get jobbed here, since the other bowls don't want to wait until Sunday to fill their bowl selections. They'd rather get their selections out of the way early so they can sell more tickets. Don't you think the team that loses the Championship game would rather have been Georgia Tech, who at 9-3 (5-3) lost the tiebreaker to Virginia Tech to play in the Title game but gets to play in the ACC No. 2 bowl against the defending National Champions in their own backyard? The consolation prize for the ACCCG runner-up is a trip to Nashville against a 6-6 Vanderbilt team (a team that hasn't gone bowling since 1982) or a 6-6 Kentucky team that finished 2-6 in the SEC, DFL in the SEC East. These teams are hardly powerhouse SEC football programs. Some consolation prize!
Suspect #6: Clemson to the Gator Bowl
Brian as Bad Cop: No way to play good cop on this one. The Gator Bowl is reportedly flirting with Clemson to fill its January 1 bowl slot from the ACC. Seems like it is all but a done deal. Are you shitting me? A 5 loss team playing in the No. 3 ACC bowl on New Year's Day? What are we, the SEC this year? Now I realize Clemson is going to travel well, but you have 4 other ACC schools that finished with a better ACC record (5-3 Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech), and 5 other schools that finished with a better overall record (add 8-4 North Carolina). This would simply be inexcusable for the ACC. I'm fine with sending Clemson to the Champs Sports Bowl or to a lesser bowl, but Clemson is not one of the three best teams in this conference.
This team went 4-4 in the ACC and beat Boston College and the three worst ACC schools (Duke, Virginia and NC State). Sounds like a great idea to reward mediocrity with a January 1 bowl game! This sends the wrong message to the rest of these ACC programs that it flat out doesn't matter how well you play, who you beat or how you finish on the field. They'd rather brush their hands of this whole bowl selection process and let the rich get richer. The deck will always be stacked against the smaller schools and the teams that don't travel (see: Maryland and Wake, who both beat Clemson).
Jeff as Good Cop if BC wins ACCCG: If BC beats Virginia Tech I have no problem with it. The Gator Bowl would have no 9 win team to choose from because Georgia Tech would be going Chick-Fil-A and Boston College would be going Orange. Therefore the only slighted teams would be Florida State and North Carolina because they are both 8-4 which is better than Clemson's 7-5 obviously. I have no problem with slighting the Seminoles at all because they are FSU and North Carolina was only 4-4 in conference which is the same as Clemson's record. I don't think that UNC would have beaten Alabama if they had played them out of conference either.