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Expansion and the Multi-Techs

The 2005 football season has been a pretty good one so far for the ACC. There have been some very good games, thrilling affairs that in most cases have come down to the last play. This ‘basketball’ conference is acquitting itself fairly well in the ‘other’ sport.

The new television contract has kicked in and the boys at Disney haven’t been shy about beaming big games to the region and nation. Those that have followed ACC football for a while, admittedly a small demographic more than fifty miles from Clemson, haven’t seen this much coverage since the last Danny Ford probation.

The ACC has kept up its end of the bargain by supplying plenty of big games. Things got off to a rousing start the first weekend when Virginia Tech traveled to NC State. They picked up the next night when Miami and Florida State staged their annual donnybrook, for the second time as conference mates. This past weekend the Canes and Clemson got it on in an overtime thriller in Death Valley, followed by Florida State initiating Fredo into the league. Yep, there has been a lot of football attention focused on Dean’s old stomping ground.

There will be another big game this weekend, Saturday afternoon’s multi-Tech affair featuring two undefeated and ranked teams. That there are two undefeated ACC teams left to play each other by the end of September is news unto itself; usually most everybody other than FSU has a loss by now. Things have changed in Coach K’s league. Of course, as Ol’ Roy showed last April and football is demonstrating at the moment, the ACC ain’t just Coach K’s league anymore.

It is hard not to notice one constant in this plethora of big ACC football games. Tech-State, Canes-‘Noles, Canes-Clem, FSU-Fredo and Tech-Tech all have one thing in common. Each game involves an expansion team. The contentious ACC expansion seems to be working.

Does anybody really miss the State-Duke game? How many have even noticed that it is not being played this year? Things would have been quite a bit different had the Blue Devils played the Wolfpack in the season opener. For one thing, there would not have been those hundreds of fans milling around outside the gates of Carter-Finley begging for tickets.

I seriously doubt there would have been many Duke fans dressed in red riding bicycles up and down Trinity Road searching for them. That human effluvium that populates the Fairgrounds lot would have had far fewer opposing fans at whom to hurl obscenities.

The chances of the Deuce showing up to nationally-televise a prime time game between Duke and State would have been zero, also the amount of money the ACC would have made from the television rights. Sacrificing State pounding Duke by forty seems a small price to pay for the excitement generated for ACC football from the taut Tech-State game in a boisterous Carter-Finley. The ACC looks a lot more like a real football conference this way, which it now is.

The expansion teams are taking the lion’s share of this weekend’s ACC television face time. ABC is showing Colorado at Miami as well as the battle of the Engineering schools. The choices were not hard, as the ACC’s old guard didn’t have a whole hell of a lot to offer. The Jefferson Pilot noon regional game is Carolina-State. Have they insured BobLeeSwagger’s walk down F-bomb Alley at the Fairgrounds? Hopefully they will provide a camera crew to record visual evidence.

The Heels and the Pack is a big game in North Carolina but few places elsewhere. While both have had their moments, neither has been highly-ranked recently and almost never have both been ranked at the same time. This isn’t exactly Florida-Florida State or even Virginia Tech- Hoos. Hence, it becomes a nooner, a step in the right direction over the last couple of years.

Duke and the Hoos is not televised at all. No big surprise there. By halftime, traditionally when the ‘Exit’ lights go on at Scott Stadium, the handful of people that might be watching if it were on the tube would be in a mood to join all of those Hoos getting stumbling drunk at the Corner. The only interest this game will generate is if people are selling Stones tickets outside.

I’m not aware of any television for Maryland Wake Forest, or why anybody would want to watch. Blech, what a lousy game. Two teams getting together to determine which is the worst in the ACC’s Atlantic Division is not exactly must-see tv.

Although I am sure there are some Heels and Devils around who don’t see it that way and continue to mourn the loss of their beloved basketball round robin, it seems like expansion has been pretty good for the ACC. Six ACC teams are ranked in this week’s coach’s poll and it’s hard to see how a tough overtime loss to the 12th-ranked team should have knocked Clemson out. Half of the conference’s rankings are courtesy of expansion.

It is also not hard to see why expansion was necessary, although, again, there are those around who simply will not let it go [here’s to you, DBR]. Take the expansion teams out and this would not be a particularly good football conference. That a combined 1-3 Carolina and State game would have been the week’s biggest game rather than a match-up of unbeaten teams tells you most of what you need to know. And, for league purists, Carolina indicated last year that basketball wasn’t hurt too badly after all, except maybe those who are blue, both light and royal, over interloper Seth Greenberg being named basketball Coach of the Year.

As for the week’s featured game, the two Techs get together at Lane Stadium for the first time since 2000. Hopefully they will at least make it to the opening kickoff on this occasion. That would be unlike that 2000 non-game.

Many of us well remember that the beautiful skies of that daylong tailgate turned into a deluge of such proportions that were he still around Noah would have taken one look at the water rising on the floor of Lane Stadium and thought, “Again?” It was an impressive thunderstorm, one that caused the game to be called off. They are just now getting around to re-scheduling it.

ABC/ESPN is hoping that lightning will strike twice with the Vick name while also hoping that lightning does not strike twice at a multi-Tech game in Lane Stadium. I assume the car rental place in Roanoke will be leasing Lee Corso a Yugo this time, or maybe a Trabant.

Mother Nature seems to be taking notice. No sooner had ESPN announced that Gameday would be on hand than the weather forecast was changed to include a slight chance of rain. That ‘slight chance’ sure wreaked some havoc last time around. There is still mud on Chicken Hill.

Gameday has been moved to Virginia’s Tech this week due to dicey weather at its original destination, LSU. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now that there is a chance of rain, no doubt Corso and Lee Fowler will be amenable to the suggestion recently made by Swagger and David Glenn that they replace them on the set. BobLee would certainly look good donning the head of the Hokie Bird.

Still, unless Rita decides to check out the health of Reggie Ball and makes a hard right turn and steps on it, this multi-Tech game will likely be played. It should be a good one, too. Ball might or not play and most certainly will not be at full effectiveness for the entire game, but the Yellow Jackets are still plenty good. John Tenuta’s crack defense will have something for young Marcus Vick. The experience of having stared down the NC State defense might come in very handy for MVToo.

The blockbuster ratings the Tech-State game produced for ESPN will come in handy for the ACC, too. That, along with the media darling status generally given by ESPN to the league’s northernmost Tech, even when a Vick isn’t around. Does anybody seriously think that Georgia Tech playing at Syracuse would have been this big of a deal? Not a chance and Syracuse-State would not have set ratings records on ESPN2, either. The 2005 season is not even a month old and we have already seen the benefits of expansion as well as why it was necessary. We have also seen that the ACC got the right teams.

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