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2006
9
Aug

Fearless Predictions 2006 part II

Continuing my attempts to prove I can be just as wrong in predicting the 2006 ACC football season as the experts, here are the 2006 Fearless Football Predictions, Part 2. As always, these predictions are guaranteed to be correct unless they are not.

Coastal Division

1] Miami

If not now, when? Things have not succeeded as planned for the Canes since ACC expansion. Assured at one time by Little Johnny Swofford that she had finally shaken those pesky Hokies, the Dwarf Dyke of Miami has since watched aghast as Virginia Tech first beat the Canes into the conference, then have proceeded to finish ahead of them the first two years. This was not exactly what she had in mind.

These have not been the best of times for Coach Larry Coker. Since taking over for Butch Davis in 2001, Coker has lost 0 games, then 1, then 2 and now his program seems to have bottomed out with two straight 3-loss campaigns. Last year’s 9-3 mark was punctuated when the Miami players elected not to participate in the Peach Bowl after they had taken the field. 9-3 records might be cause for parades in Raleigh , but they are grounds for firing in Coral Gables .

The heat on Coker has caused him to run into the South Florida sun to cool off. The wide but very shallow Miami fan base could absolutely care less what conference they are in, only that they win every game every year. Coker reacted to the screaming manfully by placing the blame on his assistants, pretty much firing the lot of them without once mentioning who had hired the collection of no-coaching stiffs. You can only do that once.

Coker leads his Canes into the 06 season facing lots of pressure. It would seem he has to at least win the ACC championship. Otherwise, the gunfire heard would not just be coming from gang warfare around the Orange Bowl or Miami players returning fire. Coker does have that all-important experienced quarterback in Kyle Wright to go along with what is usually the best talent in the country.

Season Tone-setting Game: S4 Florida State- Home

Losing for a second time to St. Bobby might cause Paul Dee to shoot Coker on the spot.

Projection: 8-0/12-1

2] Virginia Tech

The excitement has been about the recruiting class. There is a season to play and probably a couple more before they make a splash. This will be about as close as Frank Beamer gets to a rebuilding year. There are few things more conducive to a successful season in sports than an experienced quarterback and Frank doesn’t have one. There is a lot of talent running around Merryman and the defense will likely be very good, but inexperience at QB will cost some games.

As he concludes his second decade in charge of Tech football, Frank has a system in place that has a solid cadre of experienced senior managers. Players are recruited to fit that system, as are junior staff members. Nothing much deviates very far from the norm at Tech.

Frank has the OOC he wants and demands, which will perhaps make this year’s record a bit more gaudy than the team. Still, it will be a pretty good one. They should be knocking around the top of the Coastal Division and given Larry Coker’s habit of inexplicable losses, who knows?

Season Tone-setting Game: S9 North Carolina- Away

There is a new guy on the Carolina staff who is still not one bit happy about the way things went down at his last gig and is approaching this game in much the same fashion as the Knights Templar approached defending Jerusalem . This game will be very hard. Lose it and Frank will need that weak OOC.

Projection: 5-3/9-3

3 [tie]] The Hoos

Surprised? Hoo Head Football Coach, Great NFL Legend and Hooville Planning Director algroh calls his sixth team a non-rebuilding rebuilding year. Of course, algroh has said a lot of things, few of which have come to pass.

For all of the jokes, laughter and ridicule, the Hoos haven’t been all that bad. The Great NFL Legend has taken them to four straight bowls. There is a lot of talent in Hooville and one of these days algroh might stumble upon a new five-year plan that actually figures out how to use it.

The schedule sets up quite nicely for a big run by the Hoos. If algroh can get past fellow NFL dud Dave Wannstedt in the opener at Pitt, it is not beyond the realm of comprehension to see the Hoos undefeated and one of college football’s major stories through October before the wheels come off in November. algroh has a tough Thursday night game at Georgia Tech, but he has pretty much owned Chan Gailey; the Hoos get Carolina at home on a Thursday night in the battle for the Zima Cup.

Season Tone-setting Game: S2 Pittsburgh- Away

Putting together a big undefeated run generally requires winning the first game.

Projection: 4-4/8-4

3[tie]] Georgia Tech

Before retiring back to Blacksburg , multi-Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine made a curious announcement. Dave said that due to their stringent academic requirements, Georgia Tech was never going to amount to much in football, so, what the hell, they might as well keep Chan Gailey around. That was perhaps not what the Jacket faithful wanted to hear. Braine then proceeded to give Gailey a wonderful parting gift in the form of a big raise and long-term contract extension, making it a very difficult and expensive proposition for new AD Radakovich to get rid of Gailey, no matter the record.

Gailey has put together a program in Atlanta that hovers in the 6-7 win range, capable of beating Miami and losing to Duke. This could very well be a break-out year. QB Reggie Ball is now a senior, a time in which prior inconsistencies generally right themselves. He will have an all-world wide receiver to throw to in Calvin Johnson.

It just might be a very good season on the Heights, that is, until one examines the schedule. In the ACC, there are trips to Clemson , NC State and a second straight one to Lane Stadium. At home will be some vengeful Canes and a Great NFL Legend fellow NFL alum Gailey has had trouble beating. The last thing this tough league slate needed was OOC games against Notre Dame and Georgia, but they bookend the slate. The Yellow Jackets do not appear to have the depth or overall talent level to contend with such a monster schedule.

Season Tone-setting Game: S2 Notre Dame- Home

If the Yellow Jackets win this game, disregard the above and below.

Projection: 4-4/6-6

5] North Carolina

Following The Year at Virginia Tech in 1999, area schools were in a frenzy to also hire alumni to run their football programs. Soon after, they were in place at Maryland , Hooville , NC State and North Carolina . Of the bunch, the Tar Heel’s ‘Big’ John Bunting looks to be the only to actually figure out how Frank did it.

Big John had some rough early years in Blue Heaven, as did Frank in Blacksburg . Also like Frank, Bunting has slowly built Carolina piece by piece, slowly but surely getting better while cultivating strong ties with state high school coaches. Unlike Frank, Big John is doing it in the face of massive amounts of administrative and fan indifference. The time is getting closer to when all of this hard work will pay off.

Questions remain as to whether Bunting is good enough to actually put Carolina over the top, whether he will be given enough time, or if he is simply laying a solid foundation for the next coach. No matter what happens to Big John, the program is now in better shape than when he found it.

Last year the Heels played Coastal powers Miami and Virginia Tech very tough for a half before in each game getting worn down. Big John has yet to accumulate the depth necessary to consistently hang with the top of the division. This year will also be a bit tricky with the retirement of OC Gary ‘Yoda’ Tranquill. It takes time to learn a new offense. Frank might hire new coaches, John, but the senior ones are promoted from within and the system rarely changes.

Season Tone-setting Game: S2 Rutgers- Home

Whispers out of the People’s Republic of Chapel Hill indicate that Big John is talking much more about the Virginia Tech game a week later than he is about the DORKS. RUTSgers made a bowl primarily through ACC expansion denuding the Li’l E of its best football teams, but they are a little tougher than they were when Tech was annually hanging 45 on them. Lose this one, Big John, and you can still make NFL Europe.

6] Duke

And this surprises whom? It is hard to imagine that Ted Roof could have taken a program that achieved back-to-back winless seasons under Carl Franks and made it worse, but that is one Roof seems to have done. Only the judicious placement of a I-AA team [and VMI, a bad one at that] kept Duke from notching yet another 0-fer. ‘Lackey’ Joe Alleva might be calling jimmy this week attempting to swap out Richmond for I-AA perpetual loser Northeastern.

The Devils were bad, very bad, in 05. Since then there have been a slew of transfers, mostly to I-AA schools. The capper came when experienced quarterback Zack Asack was suspended for giving a term paper the Joe Biden treatment. This to face a schedule that includes back-to-back games against Alabama , Florida State and Miami . Lots ‘o luck, Ted.

Duke still should beat Richmond and might surprise one of the I-A teams on their schedule, but it would be prudent not to wager the 401k on the latter. And so it goes at Duke.

Season Tone-setting Game: S2 Richmond- Home

Duke is giving away tickets to this game. That tells you what Lackey Joe thinks of this year’s chances.

Postseason

Miami beats Florida State to open the season, the Noles return the favor to close it. Both go to the BCS, FSU to the MNC game, Miami to the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech goes to the Bowl Formerly Known As The Peach, Clemson to the Gator. The Disney or Whatever Bowl in Orlando has Fredo foisted off on them; both gripe loudly about it. The Hoos head to the Muffler Bowl in Charlotte , NC State to the Music City . Georgia Tech gets Boise . Carolina goes to San Francisco . The Tar Heels actually sell a lot of tickets to certain Chapel Hill elements who have never seen a football game.

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