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2006
28
Aug

Game Week

Finally! Another football season is upon us. The monotony of August practices is almost over and has shifted to game week preparations. The various methods used by fans to count down to kickoff shows that time is drawing near indeed. It is almost time for football.

This Saturday games will actually be played. Media types can report something other than mostly vapid comments by coaches and players. Fans chomping at the bit to fire up tailgating apparatus can finally hit the road in search of stadiums that will actually be hosting a game. It is that most special time of the year.

Weekend activities will alter drastically. I will no longer be spending weekend mornings glued to the Weather Channel ogling the luscious Dao Vu, that network’s answer to the Fox News Foxes. I will be instead traveling to and from games. See you in December, Dao.

There will be a full slate of ACC games stretching from Thursday through Labor Day. Obviously, the weekend’s biggest game will be that major intersectional clash between Virginia Tech and Northeastern. Even the projected arrival of Ernesto by kickoff will do little to dampen the excitement surrounding what is sure to become a major rivalry. The scalpers outside Lane will have a field day. Well, it’s football anyway.

This something other than epic opener was scheduled at the last minute, due in large part to ESPN discovering that badgers were actually of the Gallus genus. When one is scheduling games within months of the season the Northeasterns of the world are what one often gets. At least Frank Beamer considers it the perfect OOC game. Considering the youth and experience that abounds on this Tech team, perhaps it is.

Tech fans will finally get to observe new starting quarterback in something closely resembling live action. It can be assumed that the message board loons electing to avoid the last-minute rush by calling for Glennon’s removal even before he has taken a snap in anger will find much to criticize. The new Tech QB is in a no-win situation that can only be alleviated by winning a few games. There will be the usual errors of inexperience common to all rookie starting quarterbacks [remember the 99 Clemson game, a tough one for you-know-who?]. In the end, however, I suspect Glennon will do fine.

Tech is not the only ACC team looking to ease into the 06 season via the I–AA route. NC State opens with in-state foe Appalachian State. Unlike Tech, where the philosophy was ‘if you’re going to schedule an easy win over a I-AA team, make it a bad I-AA team,’ the Wolfpack gets the defending champion of what is now known as the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. That mouthful is certainly a much fancier way of saying ‘early-season patsy.’

The Mountaineers will certainly prove to be more of a challenge than will whatever nick Northeastern refers to itself, but it is a game the Pack should win. They had better. Lose this one and Chuckie, who has spent August in ‘What, me worry?’ mode will find the ambience around the Murphy building hotter than the pizza ovens at Amedeo’s.

Duke also opens with I-AA, uh, NCAA Football Championship Subdivision resident Richmond . If attempting to schedule at least one win doesn’t work, expect Lackey Joe to try and open the 07 season against Meredith. He will keep trying until he can find somebody the Devils can beat. How are those $0 tickets selling, Lackey Joe?

Maryland opens with William and Mary. The Tribe’s sideline should be pretty crowded with all of the storm troopers from the NCAA’s Thought Police attempting to confiscate the W&M helmets.

Among conference teams opening with competition that actually fields teams with 85 players on scholarship, Georgia Tech welcomes Notre Dame to Atlanta . Watch out, Irish. The Yellow Jackets have a history of winning early-season games such as this. Ask Auburn how scheduling GT early worked out.

Notre Dame AD Kevin White recently announced that he would be dumbing down the schedules faced by the Irish in the hope of going undefeated every year. I’m guessing that games like this were what he had in mind. Expect to see Georgia Tech and likely Carolina , too, expunged from future ND schedules in favor of dogs from the MAC and Li’l E.

Charley Weis is now being feted as the greatest football mind since Vince Lombardi. I would remind him that both Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham won early for the Domers, too. Look what happened to them. White seems bent on assuring that the same sort of thing doesn’t happen to Weis.

Speaking of the Li’l E, three ACC teams open with games against the Walter Mondale of football conferences. There’s a big one in Winston-Salem where Wake Forest will be hosting Syracuse . This game has ESPN Instant Classic written all over it. It’s hard to figure what ABC was thinking when they passed on this ratings blockbuster in order to put ND-GT in prime time. They are sure kissing the New York market good-bye by televising Notre Dame instead of Syracuse Perhaps the Orangepersons will notice the similarities between Groves and Lane stadiums, think they are back at Tech and proceed to lose by 50.

North Carolina has what looks to be a sterner test from Rutgers . Big John Bunting has very likely engaged in uncharacteristic preseason weauxfing in large point because he feels very good about his chances of beating Virginia Tech next week. Lose this one, Big John and a lot of the luster of that game will be scratched away.

These are not the lovable DORKS of seasons past, the team that attempted to match Duke 0-11 for 0-11 and turned the 45-point loss into an art form. RUTSgers actually made it to a bowl last season. Of course, that was due in large part to ACC expansion. Greg Sciano will no doubt stop off in Greensboro on his way to Blue Heaven in order to plant a kiss on the mouth of Little Johnny Swofford, the guy most responsible for the DORKS making a bowl. They could still give the Heels problems, especially if Carolina is looking ahead to next week.

A third match-up between teams from Tech’s current and former leagues will take place at the Ketchup Bowl in Pittsburgh as the Hoos play Pitt. The coach’s pre-game conversation at midfield should be interesting as the Great NFL Legend swaps stories of the League with fellow pro castoff Dave Wannstedt. Those were the days, eh guys?

The Hoos will seek to get algroh’s non-rebuilding rebuilding year off on something other than the wrong foot. Wannstedt was the guy who single-handedly brought the Panthers’ run of five straight bowls under Walt Harris to a screeching halt. The amount of coaching genius on display in this game will be mind-boggling, enough to cause one to wonder why they never matched wits in a Super Bowl.

It is rumored that Fredo will open the season Thursday night at some Directional Michigan and that it will actually be televised, but does anybody really care? The sole purpose of this game seems to be to allow ESPN to cross of one of its obligation of MAC weeknight games with as little ratings pain as possible.

From the Lots O’ Yuks Department , new regional OOC punching bag East Carolina opens at Navy. If the Pirates manage to win, expect Skippy at his postgame news conference to exclaim, “See, Daddy said I could coach, no matter what those mean people at South Carolina thought.”

A Pirate win would also cause much personal glee in that my absolute favorite message board, the one at Piratefans.nut, would erupt with a flurry of posts. Board host loon Off His Rocker would post lengthy communications claiming inside knowledge that the SEC would soon be Templing Florida in order to invite the Sleeping Giant of the Carolinas, ECU. That one about the Li’l E making them the ninth member by the end of February certainly came true.

The biggest game around will take place Monday night, assuming Ernesto doesn’t finish the job of tearing down the decrepit Orange Bowl. Miami will host Florida State in what the prognosticators claim will be Really Big ACC Game I. We should find out very quickly if all of the new assistants hired by Larry Coker after he fired all the old ones out of job self-preservation are worth their salt. It will be tricky notching the necessary undefeated season if you don’t win the first one, Larry.

There will be football this weekend. The Dead Zone is almost done for another year. Let the games begin.

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