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Angela and the Schedules


The news during this Dead Zone month of May might be scarce, but there is a bit to be found. It ranges from what has become my annual viewing of a softball game to Little Johnny and his ACC minions trying, again, to figure out how to maintain the league’s television gravy train. It’s not exactly the Orange Bowl or NCAA Tournament, but it will have to do.

Sunday found me watching a woman’s softball game on television for the second time ever, Virginia Tech’s clinching of back-to-back ACC titles with its win over NC State. The first was last year’s first championship.

The Tech team is an easy one to watch. It is composed of attractive young ladies, the roster containing none of the Yikes! factor so predominate in women’s basketball. The team seems to have been recruited in roughly equal parts from small towns around the state and the populous suburbs. It seems to closely mirror the makeup of Tech’s student body.

I also imagine the girls are somewhat more familiar with Tech academics than large parts of the rosters of the Tech football and men’s basketball programs, both containing numbers of ‘scholar-athletes’ who may or may not be dimly aware that classes are held in those buildings on campus.

Towering above the Tech softball team is all-everything pitcher Angela Tincher. She dominated opposing batter orders on her way to Tournament MVP. The she-wolves could manage only two hits off Angela, which was two more than Florida State had in Saturday’s Tech semi-final win over the Noles. Of the 42 outs recorded by Tincher and Tech against the ACC’s two State’s, a whopping 27 were by strikeout. Eat your steroids-enlarged heart out, Roger Clemens.

The personable and well-spoken Tincher has also been an excellent representative of Tech, much more so than some of the thugs unleashed on Blacksburg and the rest of the country by Frank or the academic dullards that Seth seems so fond of recruiting. More athletes cut from the same cloth as Bryan Randall and fewer along the lines of the you-know-who brothers are always welcomed.

Angela’s ACC career is now over and soon so will her collegiate one. Unlike football and basketball players who dominate their sports as Tincher has her’s, there are no pro millions waiting. As the NCAA often reminds us, she will turn pro in something other than athletics and move on with her life. I suspect she will do as well in life as she has in softball.

ACC commish Little Johnny will convene conference AD’s this week in Amelia Island, Florida for several day’s worth of golf and high living. Among the topics to be discussed is league expansion, this time to the number of league games played, currently at 8 for football and 16 for basketball. The numbers 9 and 18 are being bandied about.

Coaches are not particularly fond of the idea. It can be imagined that the howls of protest from Frank at the mere thought of having to give up one of his beloved OOC cupcakes would be loud. jimmy, whose two biggest concerns are 1] obeying Frank’s orders that the OOC be as weak as possible and 2] finding enough patsies willing to come to Lane for small guarantees in order to maximize home revenues in order to pay Frank’s salary, probably would not be overly thrilled at having to shoehorn another alternate year ACC away game in between all of the I-AA and Directional gimmes.

On the other hand, Seth probably would not be averse to losing OOC opponents such as, say, Richmond and Old Dominion to play a couple more conference teams that he has more success in beating.

While there has been some chatter about increasing the number of conference games played as a method of somehow creating more NCAA-worthy basketball teams, a more valid excuse is money, or the pending reduction of it.

Little Johnny is again gearing up for a re-negotiation of the league’s football and basketball television contracts. As was the case six years ago, the ACC boss does not like what he is hearing from the networks. The Disney boys are getting stuck, badly, with the huge football contract that was based on high levels of Backness by the Canes.

The situation seems identical to over a decade ago when CBS was so enthralled by the prospects of Cane Backability that they showered millions on the Big East, only to see the Canes immediately go into the tank. While Tech, as they did back then, is again picking up the slack the networks seem fonder of south Florida Backness than southwest Virginia solid consistency.

With a Backless ACC producing zero extra BCS bids or even a single ACC victory in a BCS game, the same has happened to ABC. About the only thing that has change is Butch is claiming Backness on a different campus. These network guys never seem to learn their lesson.

With an upheaval of the collegiate landscape through expanding the number of ACC teams not a realistic option this time around, the next best things would seem to be to increase the amount of inventory games available to the networks. Exactly why ABC, which elected last year to televise far fewer league football games than it had contracted for, would pay more or even the same for more games it didn’t televise in the first place has not been specified. As was the case in 2003, at times it can be difficult to fathom Little Johnny’s thinking.

While I certainly wouldn’t mind Tech games against NC State and/or Wake on a more regular basis replacing a meaningless series of OOC games against ECU, it is highly unlikely that the people that make those decisions will see it that way.

In basketball, the problem of relatively few bids to the NCAA Tournament has more to do with the post-expansion decline of the quality of conference basketball. Since expansion, the caliber of ACC play has dived like Tyler the Good at a frat party.

Programs like Maryland and Georgia Tech are nowhere near their Final Four selves of earlier in the decade and NC State seems determined to return not to its early 80s glory but the grim Les Robinson days. Fallback Dave is demonstrating in Hooville that he was the fallback position of HOO AD Craig ‘Geez, Tubby, they are ticked around here about all of the coin dropped on that useless postseason tournament’ Littlepage for a reason.

While almost all of the ACC’s basketball television value is contained along 15/501 between the campuses of Duke and Carolina, it wouldn’t hurt one bit if the rest of the league chipped in. Improving the quality of league teams would seem a better route for a larger ACC presence in the basketball Big Dance as well as keeping the television cash flow at acceptable levels.

Getting Duke back to being Duke would also help the ACC’s perception problem in basketball. That interesting trade with Stanford of an assistant coach for a much-needed big man might be a step in that direction.

So would a second football or basketball season to break the monotony of the Dead Zone. They are not likely to be discussing that on Amelia Island, so I suppose I will have to be content with scrounging around the cable to hopefully find a few more glimpses of Angela Tincher and the Tech softball team, They are worth watching.

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