Virginia! North Carolina! ESPN! Be There!

Wanna bet that this isn’t exactly what the suits at ESPN had in mind when they contracted with the ACC to show a bunch of Thursday night games? 2-5 Virginia hosting 1-5 UNC? Between them, the Cavaliers and Tar Heels have beaten two 1-A teams and lost to nearly every direction, West(ern Michigan), East( Carolina) and South( Florida).
The most intriguing aspect of the game is the status of each coach. Both are under a ton of fire from fans but only Bunting is in real danger of losing his job. As Dave Glenn has pointed out a couple of times on the radio, it would only cost UNC about $1M to let Bunting go at this point, which is probably chump change compared to the money they’d make with a competitive program.
Al Groh was lucky enough to have done well in his first few years and have a sucker for an AD. Repeating the mistake they made with Pete Gillen, UVA signed Groh to an excessively long contract that makes his buyout untenable at this point. He’ll be back for at least one more year to try to get things going in the right direction again.
So other than to laugh at just how bad the teams are, why should you watch this game? How about this one – and this really only applies to fans of either – this is probably the worst team you’re going to play for the rest of the year (Duke excepted). Someone has to win this game!

Thank You John Swofford

Over the years, I don’t think I’ve worked hard enough to express my thanks to John Swofford and his visionary leadership of the ACC.  Why, a few years ago, the ACC would never have been associated with this sort of excellence.
We’re all literally stomping up and down and swinging our arms with excitement over the new ACC. It’s been a riot.
Bravo, Mr. Swofford, bravo.

Let’s Go Wake!

Climb aboard everyone, it’s time for the Wake Forest bandwagon to get rolling! There’s room for everyone, so don’t be shy. Come on, it’s fun!
I don’t care which ACC team you root for, you need to make Wake your second favorite team right now. Hell, if you pull for UNC, UVA or Duke, you can even make the Deacons your number one choice this season. You have my permission! Trust me, it’ll be good for your health. It’s not like your team deserves your adulation.
I've always loved Wake!If you don’t understand why I’m saying this, you need to watch Wake Forest play. This is a team full of second-rate football players, guys the big programs didn’t want. When kicker Sam Swank was asked about this after the game, he mentioned that yeah, some other schools wanted them, but they’d have to walk-on. For the record, Swank nailed three (three!) 50-plus yard field goals in the Deacons’ road win over NC State today. And he had a 49-yarder doink off the upright (about two-thirds of the way up, mind you – kid’s got a leg!).
Coach Jim Grobe has taken this squad full of misfit toys and forged them into a hell of a football team. After today’s win over hot NC State, Wake is now 6-1. Their one loss came last week to the ACC’s best team, Clemson and that was pretty much only because of one miraculous play in the Tigers’ favor. It’s perfectly reasonably to say that Wake should be 7-0 at this point.
The thing is, most times when a lesser program makes a Cinderella run, they do it with a combination of trickery and extreme good fortune. Not this team. They line up run the ball right down your damn throat. Sure, they’ll throw some misdirection at you, but they’ll also smack you in the face. If they had worn Clemson or Penn State uniforms today, no one would have noticed the difference.
And good luck? Please. Wake’s only big name player is quarterback Benjamin “don’t call me Ben” Mauk and he was lost for the season in the first game. Running back Micah Andrews was leading the ACC in rushing before blowing out his knee in game three. Starting left tackle, possibly the second most critical position on the team, Arby Jones is also gone for the season. Wake is doing this with backups!
Wake’s execution is nearly flawless. When Florida State or Miami run a reverse, it works because they get the ball into the hands of a high school state champion sprinter. When the Deacons run a reverse (like they did over and over against the confused Wolfpack today), it works because they run it perfectly. The receivers seal a lane and quarterback Riley Skinner gets out there a sticks somebody. It’s hard to watch that and not be impressed. I think even the dejected Wolfpack faithful would agree that the team that beat them today (and they did beat NC State) was worthy of everyone’s respect and admiration.
So climb aboard. Join the Deacon nation. ACC fans have to find something good about this year.

The Rocky Balboa of English Football

Grant Wahl has an outstanding article in this week’s Sports Illustrated about Jay DeMerit, an American playing in the English Premiere League. If you’re thinking to yourself “DeMeritt? I’ve never heard of him,” there’s a good reason. He’s never played for a US team at any level. He played his college soccer at Illinois-Chicago. He wasn’t drafted and never played in the MLS. He started out playing in the ninth-division in England and worked his way up.

I don’t want to write too much about this, because Wahl did such a good job with the article and anything else I say can only hurt. It’s an incredible story and you’ll thank me for reading it. I just finished and I’m so pumped up right now I’m ready to go run some laps and pump some iron!

Bunting Beats Amato!

Remember last summer when Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated ranked the worst college football coaches in the country and put our lovable Chuck Amato at #1?  Well, times have changed and so have Mandel’s rankings.  Amato is officially off the Mandel Hot Seat and he was replaced by none other than arch-rival John Bunting. I wonder what Mandel will do later this year when UNC pulls off another upset against State?

Hat tip to State Fans Nation for the find.

Thank God For Sideline Reporters

So I’m watching the Virginia Tech – Boston College game tonight, amazed at just how much the Hokies were screwing up. They brought to mind that Dave Chapell skit – Man, the Hokies are f****ing up! But my thoughts on that topic were completely diverted by a second-half piece of reporting by sideline cupcake Erin Andrews. Now, normally Ms. Andrews achieves this sort of attention-grabbing by simply, well, being there. She’s a fine looking lady! But no, this time it was her unforgettable exchange with the parents of BC walk-on kicker Steve Aponavicius (a very cool story by the way. The dude’s never played a single game of college or high school football and there he was handling the Eagles’ kicking duties in a big conference game on national TV).
The exchange went like this (I’ll insert my comments where I feel some snark is warranted):
Andrews: Steve Aponavicius has been the story tonight. The walk-on kicker getting his start and what a night he’s had. Two PATs, one field goal [uh oh, we’re already in trouble. She has it exactly backwards, which is surprising since he kicked his second FG just seconds earlier to give BC 13 points. But hey, we all make mistakes. Let’s go on.] and like Kirk Herbstreit said, some great kickoffs [I’ll let this one go as a difference of opinion, but to me, landing balls on the 12 yardline isn’t terribly great, but hey Kirk said it, not Erin, right?]. Mom and Dad joining me right now. I know you drove down from Pennsylvania tonight [evidently they went the long way to Boston] What was your nerves like in the car? [Oh boy. Well, it is an irregular verb. And hey, our President has a hard time with that one too, and you know, he’s the President!] How were you doing in the car tonight?
Mom and Dad: some sort of muttering …
Andrews: And Dad, I know your son had played some football before, [wait a minute! We’ve been hearing over and over tonight about how this is his first organized game ever! Is she talking about pick-up two-hand touch in the neighborhood cul-de-sac?] but how are you doing pregame? [That twist of tense just confused me. Evidently, I wasn’t the only one, as Mr. Aponavicius seemed to have no idea how to answer her. He was just silent for seconds before muttering something.]
Dad: muttering
Andrews: (later) The team has nicknamed your son Sid Vicious. Do you have any idea who that is?
Mom: No
Dad: something about how he’d heard the name a long time ago
[Go on Erin – fill them in. Just who is this Sid Vicious that all the kids are talking about?]
Andrews: Punk rock band.
So, there you have it. Sid Vicious is a punk rock band and Erin Andrews is an idiot.
But in her defense …

ACC Roundup – 10/12

There are really only two games of much note this weekend – Virginia Tech at Boston College tonight and Wake Forest visiting NC State on Saturday. Both games could be critical in deciding who will play in the ACC Championship at the end of the year. How weird is it that I’m writing that and neither game involves a team from Florida, yet Wake Forest is involved. Not only that, but the two best ACC teams not involved in those games are Clemson and Georgia Tech. I guess that explains why coaching staffs at both Miami and Florida State are doing their best not to listen to the radio or read the paper much these days.
Boston College – Tonight’s ESPN game against the Hokies might be the fulcrum on which the good vs. very good battle swings for BC. It seems like they have that battle every year, doesn’t it? And they always teeter down on the good side, don’t they? Hokies by a touchdown.

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Football Numbers

Today’s Dave Sez entry is brought to you by the number 10.  Ten.  The percentage of the reduction in the number of plays and points in college football this year.
That’s one of many interesting numbers you’ll find when you click here and read this excellent post over at StateFans Nation.  Be sure to click on the various links in their article – they’ll take you to several other posts and sites containing interesting college football stats.  One site in particular that I’d never seen is this beauty – cfbstats.com. Go check that bad boy out and get back to me in an hour or so when you’ve had your fill.
OK, now that you’re back, we can get back to our number of the day – ten. I waited a while to pass judgment on the new college timing rules, specifically the one that stipulates that the clock will start as soon as the ball is set after changes of possession. Many astute folks ripped this rule as soon as they learned of it, but I’m not that clever. I didn’t really get it until I saw it in action. Even then, I decided that I’d wait a few weeks to see what I think. Well, now I know for sure – it sucks. As the numbers linked to above show, the new rule that was supposed to speed games up basically chopped 10% off of the true length of games – not the actual time between the beginning and end of the game (by all reports, that number hasn’t really changed much), but the total number of plays in a game. Not only that, but some of the plays we do get, the ones that should be the most exciting, are botched because teams don’t have time to get set and run a proper play late in a close game.
What’s most obnoxious about this to me is the ridiculous claim that this is being done to help fans, yet they made no effort whatsoever to trim time during halftime, the quarter breaks or during the 483 TV timeouts we have to sit through. God forbid we only watch 40 Geico commercials instead of 47 during a typical game. So instead, we get less football and a higher commercial-to-football ratio. Thanks, NCAA. Good work as always.

ACC Roundup – 10/6/2006

I haven’t done one of these things for two weeks now (damn job!), so I’ve got so many thoughts that I just can’t write them all. I’m no Bill Simmons; I can’t crank out 10,000 word entries. Hell, I think I could write 5,000 on NC State alone, but I’ll go ahead and see if I can contain myself enough that I can get this finished today.
Boston College – With a bye tomorrow and the Maine game last week, the Eagles will have plenty of time to think about how they screwed up that NC State game. BC had no business blowing that game. About a half dozen things needed to go wrong in the last minute-and-a-half and every one did. At first, I thought that Jim O’Brien made a huge mistake going for that fourth down, but after further reflection, I changed my mind. Convert that one play and the game’s over. Even if they didn’t get it, they were still in very good shape. The two key mistakes were going with such a predictable play and not running the play clock all the way down to 1 before hiking the ball (my apologies if I’m wrong here. I’m just going on what I remember the announcers saying at the time). Those seconds were absolutely critical at that point. Still, even giving the ball back to State should have been OK. It wasn’t. And now BC has to avoid losing at home to an angry Virginia Tech team on national TV. They head to Tallahassee the next weekend. I think it’s fair to say that their game against the Hokies could make or break the BC season.

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Brian Davis Is The Man

You’ve probably seen the story by now, former Duke basketball players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner are teaming up (again) to buy the Memphis Grizzlies. Davis and Laettner are putting up $40 million of a $252 million purchase of 70% of the club. The two found other investors to fill out the rest of the money, but Davis will be considered the owner.
Now, I remember Brian Davis as a player on those legendary Duke teams. He was a bad ass. A small forward, he could guard four positions and could score when the team needed it. In fact, it was Davis who scored the final critical basket in Duke’s famous 1991 upset of undefeated UNLV.
Davis went on to play one season in the NBA and probably a few more overseas, but he really excelled in business. He and Laettner founded Blue Devil Ventures, a real estate company that has successfully rebuilt large chunks of Durham’s downtown. Clearly that development was not just good for Durham, but profitable for Davis and Laettner.
We all know that Dukies are supposed to be flops in the NBA. Now it turns out that maybe they can’t dominate it on the court (although that myth has largely been shattered by Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and others), but they can literally own the league.
That says some pretty good things about Duke University and Mike Krzyzewski’s program doesn’t it? I know they hardly need any more good news and it’s much more fun to hate on the Blue Devils, but you can’t deny that this story is impressive.
Unfortunately for me, Davis’ success says some things about my career as well. You see, I graduated from college the same year that Davis did… Let’s just say I’m a few paychecks away from buying any pro sports franchises.