James from Yet Another NC State Sports Blog is hosting this week's roundtable and it's all about rivalries. And barbecue. Tasty, tasty barbecue.
1) The ACC scheduling gods really did their best this year to ensure a true "rivalry" week to conclude the season. Here in North Carolina, the two large state schools (N.C. State and Carolina) and the two smaller private schools (Duke and Wake) face off against one another. Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech all face off against in-state foes. Even the Boston College/Maryland game has a twinge of regional flavor to it, pitting the two northern-most schools of the ACC against one another. On paper, is this the best rivalry week lineup in recent memory?
If you don't look at the team records, absolutely. In reality, most of those games are likely to be upsets. I guess with the rivalry factor you have to throw the records out, but how likely is it for one of those underdogs to actually beat their rival in that game? Really, the most likely upset is UVa over Virginia Tech just because it's Groh's last game and the Hoos have a decent defense. But other than that, NC State, Sakerlina, Jawja, FSU, USF and Maryland are really just looking to keep it close. And the Duke-Wake game? Yawn.
2) Clemson and Georgia Tech will face one another in the ACC title game. Do you think both teams facing out-of-conference rivals the week prior will help or hurt either team's performance in the big game, depending on the outcomes of these rivalry games?
If you can't get up for a rivalry game you have no right to be in the conference title game. I vote that if they lose it should count as two ACC losses.
3) It's the tail end of the season and you know what that means: Coaching Carousel Time! I'm a firm believer in giving a coach five years to prove his worth before even considering a change...at least I *was*, until I saw how quickly Paul Johnson and Brian Kelly turned their respective programs into top-10 squads. With an ever-increasing desire from fanbases to WIN NOW, is five years still "industry standard," or can coaches legitimately be expected to show marked improvement in four years or less before finding a pink slip in their inbox? How bad would a situation have to be to fairly jettison a head coach before year five?
I think it still has to be five years because for every Brian Kelly out there, there's a Charlie Weis who excels with the previous coach's talent but then falls off a cliff when "his guys" start taking over. Basically, the first two years should almost be ignored where a coach really earns his keep is what he does in years 3-5. That's where you can learn if success will be sustainable. I don't think schools should overreact by firing or giving a lucrative extension until after the fifth season.
4) Certainly the four-letter network likes to pimp the big rivalries-- Ohio State Vs. Michigan, Texas Vs. Oklahoma, etc.--but I think the ACC has quite a few solid rivalries that never get the coverage they deserve. Where do you think your school's rivalry rates in terms of passion, prestige and what's at stake each season? What steps--beyond the obvious "win more"--could be taken to improve the visibility of your team's rivalry matchup every year?
I said this in the summer. The Hokies and Hoos need a better trophy. The Commonwealth Cup is stupid, should be replaced with something awesome and I think it should be a giant bust of George Washington. He was the father of our country and from Virginia, so he's a perfect choice. I want to see Virginia Tech seniors carry ol' George above their heads and I want to hear our fans chanting "we want head" as the second tick away on a Hokie victory. Other than winning, I think that's the best step to improving the visibility of our rivalry.
5) Few rivalries in the South have as much tradition, passion and generated as much heated discussion as a good ol' fashioned barbecue debate. Here in North Carolina it's Eastern versus Lexington style, and a good many shouting matches have arisen between folks east of I-95 and those godless heathens that put ketchup and brown sugar in their "dip." No doubt similar verbal wars have been waged on behalf of your favorite barbecue, as well, so the question is this: In an all- out, Armageddon-type scenario where the righteous are separated from the unholy on the basis of what type of barbecue they bring to the judgment table, what style of barbecue are you bringing and who--among the purveyors of this style of 'cue in your state--will you select to be your Champion?
Because I don't live in the Commonwealth, I really can't give you a good answer for Virginny. But here in the 405 we are fortunate enough to have the best BBQ sauce I've ever experienced, Head Country. So even when you run into the occasional restaurant that has no idea how to cook a pig, you're still good to go if you have a bottle of Head Country. The best way to tell people who know BBQ vs. those who don't is ribs. If they like beef ribs, they aren't to be trusted and you're best to distance yourself from them. If they like pork ribs, they're good people. Virginia Tech = pork ribs. france = beef ribs.