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2006
21
Sep

Quarterback, Coaches and that Other League

This is probably not what Little Johnny Swofford had in mind. Three years after ACC expansion roiled the college football landscape, the New and Improved ACC looks much like the Old and Unimproved ACC, minus the powerhouse FSU program. This time around your humble correspondent suggests a reason for the malaise that seems to be spreading out of Hooville like a virulent strain of avian flu. There is also a look at that new uber-conference, the Li’l E.

There are four programs around that hold the most interest for this writer and a majority of the people who tend to read it on a regular basis, a grouping that includes a bunch of Hokies, a few Heels and Wolves and even the stray Hoo. There are similarities and differences. Actually, there are similarities among three and a difference with the fourth.

The Hoos, Carolina and State all careen into the Second Quarter of the season sporting 1-2 records. All are fairly fortunate the ledger is that good. Tech is where they usually are in September, undefeated and ranked, although looking suspiciously like an outfit that might not be quite that good. They still have to be beaten however, a task that was far beyond the capabilities of Carolina and Duke.

The Hoos, Carolina and State all share what looks like great difficulty by their coaching staffs to figure out the quarterback position, that most important one in football. In Hooville, algroh has played three only because he does not want to play four, since that would lead to breakfast.

In Blue Heaven, where Big John has used a narrow victory over a I-AA team to resume his weauxfing about how good is his team, all discernable evidence to the contrary, the quarterback seems to be chosen by the brightness of Kenan’s empty aluminum seats. If a cloud passes over, dimming the glare, it’s Sexton; when it is clear and Kenan resumes its ambience of a star going nova, its back to Dailey.

In Raleigh , Stone has been stoned and Chuckie, out of what looks like sheer desperation, turns to a legacy wolf in the hopes of stumbling across something that even remotely resembles decent quarterback play.

Contrast those three with what has happened in Blacksburg . Following a spirited spring competition when four contenders were all given their shot [obviously Frank realizes that breakfast is the most important meal of the day], the field was winnowed to two. Those contenders spent August determining which would start.

Frank huddled with OC Stiney and QB guru Mike O’Cain, and then pronounced Sean Glennon the starter. The coaches have stuck with Glennon, too. He is being allowed to develop without having to look over his shoulder, wondering if the next mistake will cause him to be jerked off the stage like a bad vaudeville act. He might not cause anyone to forget about guys named Vick or Randall, but one of these days just might make people remember the name Glennon.

While all four of these teams are in what can be termed rebuilding modes, only one of them is, so far, at least, giving every indication that it is business as usual. That would be the one that has best figured out how to handle their quarterback situation.

Tech also gives every indication of being a much happier group of campers, too. In Hooville this week, the three guys playing musical chairs at QB have begun expressing their frustration in the media, openly questioning whether their coaches know what they are doing. Are not they aware they are in the presence of the Great NFL Legend? At Tech, Ike Whitaker might not be the happiest guy in Merryman, but he is looking a lot like a team player.

The stability of the quarterback position relates to the coaches. At Hooville and Blue Heaven, there are brand spanking new Offensive Coordinators. The Hooville production of Breakfast with the Legend is being presided over by the esteemed boygroh [“Daddy, I need a job!”]. Need I say more? Maybe he should try bacon and eggs one morning.

Big John assured everyone that new OC Frank Cignetti was a true genius who would build upon the retired Yoda’s work to turn Carolina into Air Heel. It might happen one of these days, but it ain’t yet. Contrary to Big John’s boasting last August, it takes time to instill a new offense, a bit longer than three games.

Over in Raleigh , OC Marc Trestman is in his second year. So far it is looking very much like his first. Trestman was brought in to turn a team whose strength was in its running game into a passing one. How is that working out? Chuckie has a lot of problems at State, not the least of which seems to be an utter inability to figure out how to hire and manage staff. Bill Cowher doesn’t seem to have this problem, does he, Chuckie?

At Tech, again, there is a difference. Bryan Stinespring is not some guy brought in from somewhere else or off the street. Nor is he somebody’s kid handed a job in order to provide work. He is another of Frank’s lifers, a coach who has grown up in the program.

When Ricky Bustle was eased out, Stiney was promoted. The offense did not change, in fact, has not changed much at all in Frank’s two decades of running Tech football. Stiney was an experienced coach taking over an existing and proven offense. That is a much different situation than has happened at Hooville, Carolina or State and it shows. When algroh, Big John and Chuckie figure out the importance of senior staff continuity, they might also figure out how to quit losing to teams from the MAC, CUSA and Li’l E.

Speaking of the Li’l E, aren’t they the bomb? Mikey seems to have substituted steak for the ham in his breakfast. No malaise there. Following convincing victories over ACC teams, including Little Johnny’s expansion crown jewel, West Virginia and Louisville find themselves both in the Top 10 and setting up what will be that league’s biggest game since the last time Tech and Miami played as members of the Big East.

Mikey is enjoying life. It is giving him something to do until basketball practice starts in a few weeks and he can get really interested in his league. There is the possibility that he had best enjoy it while he can, because things just might change in a few years.

Most not pledging allegiance to NC State have found much humor in the weekly excuse sessions of the Pack’s coach. Well, there might just be a method to Chuckie’s madness, or at least a smidgen of truth. That would pertain to the ‘non-qualifiers,’ otherwise known as the guys who couldn’t even get into Hargrave. Both WVU and UL have plenty. But not for long.

The Li’l E last year passed the latest ‘Syracuse Rule’ [the deity knows that league sure generates a lot of them]. This one states that the Li’l E will no longer accept non-qualifiers. It would seem the Orangebrass was not content to wait for the lack of television and bowl opportunities to drag the Cousins and Pizza Boys down to their level; they decided to hasten the process along.

One does wonder what leverage the fruit had in shoving this down the throat of the protesting WVU and UL like taxed liquor or bird dropping pizza? Did the threat of actually accepting one of those myriad of invitations to become the thirteenth member of either the ACC or SEC, the twelfth of the Big Eleven, the XIIIth of the Big XII or the eleventh of the Pac 10 and take the, horrors!- New York market the Orangepersons so thoroughly dominate with them so spook people like UConn and Pitt that they voted in favor? Who knows, but they did. In the future, scratch a sizeable chunk of roster of both the Cousins and Pizza Boys, and those Top 10 rankings along with it. There are few people so dedicated to tearing down a football conference as Mikey, or so adept at it.

That brings about a convergence of the Li’l E coaches involved, Rich Rodriguez and Bobby Petrino, Miami ’s Paul Dee and the hapless Larry Coker, whose mortal sin is that he has only won one MNC. Uncle Fester essentially received the kiss of death this week from Dee when the Rotund One announced that Coker was his coach until he was not. Paul ‘Gimme Eat and then Gimme More Eat’ Dee said that he had ‘absolutely not’ had any contact with any other coaches. Many will recall exactly how much the word of Paul Dee is worth [“ Miami leaving the Big East? Pshaw! Got any more doughnuts?”]. It is a lot less than the amount of fodder Dee shovels into that lying mouth every day.

Whispers have the ‘people’ of both Rich Rod and Petrino in contact with the Miami AD, no doubt through Fredo. It possibly should be noted that Rich Rod would not sign his contract extension last summer until the offending huge buyout that trapped the basketball Cousin in Motown was removed, and it was. Petrino? Well, this is a guy who coaches for Louisville , as devious, underhanded a collection of back-stabbers that can be found north of Coral Gables . Bobby fits right in. Both have the NFL on their mind and coaching in the brighter South Beach lights would hasten that eventuality. Butch may be mooning over the Miami job, but Dee might have other ideas.

And so, Little Johnny looks on as his new not quite super conference heads into the fourth week of the season. He might be asking, “Does anybody know how to play this game” of football. In this neck of the woods the answer, outside of Blacksburg , seems to be: Hoo knows? It should prove to be an interesting Second Quarter.

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