Category Archives: Duke
Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.
At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:
- The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
- Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
- Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!
I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:
- The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
- The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).
For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.
I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.
I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:
Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M
Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.
This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):
|LSU||Texas A&M||Miss State||Arkansas|
|Mississippi State||Ole Miss||LSU||Auburn|
Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).
The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.
I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.
If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:
|Clemson||Georgia Tech||N.C. State||BC|
|Duke||North Carolina||Wake Forest||Louisville|
|Florida State||Miami||Wake Forest||N.C. State|
|Miami||Florida St.||Georgia Tech||Syracuse|
|North Carolina||Duke||N.C. State||Virginia|
|N.C. State||North Carolina||Clemson||Florida State|
|Virginia||Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Georgia Tech|
|Virginia Tech||Virginia||Louisville||Wake Forest|
|Wake Forest||Duke||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.
Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.
For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.
What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?
The Coastal is peak college football– unpredictability, #GoACC memes, weird teams like Georgia Tech, former powers including Miami and Pitt…just a strange amalgamation of teams.
So much so, that last year was the first year in 11 tries that the Coastal’s representative in the ACC Championship game navigated the regular season unscathed. North Carolina, in winning its first division title, ran roughshod over the rest of the division (and weak crossover opponents).
Don’t expect that to be the norm going forward. The division has four contenders separated only by their crossover schedules (Virginia Tech avoids Florida State and Clemson), and…not much else.
The ACC Coastal
7) Virginia. They hired Bronco Mendenhall, so they’ll take the cake as the dirtiest team in a league full of them. They’ll force a frontrunning team *cough* Miami *cough* into dumb retaliatory penalties and win a game or two they shouldn’t.
Back to Bronco for a second, UVA is set to remain at the bottom of the division because the transition from recruiting the weird BYU bubble to the Mid-Atlantic is a stark one. His early enrollees from this spring:
Studly group, to be sure. True story: the black guy transferred to Northern Illinois during spring ball.
6) Duke. They’re still riding the coattails of a Peach Bowl loss to Johnny Football and David Cutcliffe’s relationship with the Manning brothers. It still…kinda works. I don’t see more than one winnable road game for them (Northwestern, Notre Dame, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Miami) nor do I see them holding serve at home vs. Virginia Tech or UNC…so let’s nip that momentum in the bud, finally.
5) Miami. Everyone’s darling to win the division, I’m breaking stride and thinking they finish behind one of the non-contenders (Georgia Tech). ACC home games vs. FSU, UNC, and Pitt are no joke, and they don’t have a homefield advantage to speak of, anyway. Richt with less of a talent advantage will lose more games than we’re used to him losing.
4) Georgia Tech. Could win the division a la 2014, could tank again a la 2015, either way Paul Johnson is saved again only by his FULLY GUARANTEED BUYOUT.
3) Virginia Tech. And so goes the theme of this division. They could win it, or Bud Foster could decide he doesn’t like working for Justin Fuente (unlikely, Fuente is apparently a helluva dude) and blow the whole thing up. Basically, it comes down to JC transfer Jerod Evans doing Cam Newtonish things.
2) North Carolina. I’m too close to this situation, obviously, but a 2-3 start with losses to Georgia, Pitt, and Florida State and the Heels are in trouble. Hell, their next two after that are VT and at Miami. Cautionary pessimism here.
1)Pitt. Yes, I picked them last year before the James Connor cancer diagnosis. He’s back, and set to play WR, DE, and kick returner, apparently. While that’s not necessarily a great idea, they bring back a huge offensive line and a stout (never doubt Pat Narduzzi) defense.
Five Games Worth Watchin’
See, this is where the Coastal gets hard.
- (tie) Pitt at UNC, Sept. 24. VT at UNC, Oct. 8. UNC at Miami, Oct. 15. Miami at VT, Oct. 20. VT at Pitt, Oct. 27 (back to back Thursdays!). Pitt at Miami, Nov. 5. Six games between the four best teams– Miami, UNC, and VT get two at home, Pitt gets one. Otherwise, HELLO HOMOGENEITY!
- Florida State at Miami, Oct. 8: Al Golden’s Miami did an amazing job of keeping games against FSU close…when they had no expectations. CMR can achieve Schnellenberger/Johnson/Davis status FAST with a win to get to 5-0.
- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, Sept. 10: I mean, its being played at Bristol Motor Speedway. I came up with this idea in my first DYC post back in 2013. Timestamp: 5/10/13. Announced: sometime in 2014. I’m a genius.
- Pitt at Clemson, Nov. 12: Even if Pitt emerges from the scrum of Coastal foes, they will probably get knocked right back into the manpile.
- UNC at Florida State, Oct. 1: If my pessimism about Carolina sustaining success is unwarranted, a showdown of undefeated top-10 ACC contenders is on the books. If this is the case, I will be in attendance.
Players to Know
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami: He’s been shoved down our throats as Felicia from Friday’s son, as a perfect Richt project, and is actually a damn decent quarterback. But he got first-team preseason votes over Deshaun friggin’ Watson. He could be on that Hackenberg trajectory.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia: The ‘I’ve never heard of this guy and my NFL team drafted him in the middle of the first round’ guy. Also, I have a thing for Sean Taylor prototype safeties.
Marcus Marshall, FB (B-Back for those initiated with CPJ’s offense), Georgia Tech: KEITH’S LITTLE BROTHER! Unlike Keith, he absorbs contact. Tech’s offense needs competence at B-Back and QB to be successful, and Marshall put up 7.6 yards per carry as a true freshman. That’ll do.
E’Juan Price, DE, Pitt: 1st-team All-ACC last year, now bookended by senior tackles and a Tennessee transfer (Dewayne Hendrix) who is a stud in his own right, Price could blow up.
Mack Hollins, WR, UNC: Suspended for the first half of the Georgia game for targeting in the bowl, Hollins is 6’4 and runs a legit sub-4.4. In so doing, he averaged 24.8 yards per catch en route to 8 touchdowns last year. And he’s overshadowed by Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer somehow.
I promise you this, faithful readers: if the noon SEC Network game doesn’t interest you (and it rarely will), I highly suggest you invest your early games in the ESPN/ESPN2 Coastal game du jour. With Narduzzi, Richt, Mendenhall, and Fuente replacing deadbeats, Fedora stepping it up, Johnson doing Johnson/Tech things, and Cutcliffe overachieving, the Coastal is on the road to being downright treacherous.
Or, at the very least, more exciting than the two good teams and four dwarves in the Atlantic.
This is a big college football weekend! No, there are no glamorous, beautiful, (I hate this word) epic top-10 matchups that can shatter the playoff picture, but there are a TON of good games that will go a long ways towards shaking down divisions (Pac-12 North, ACC Coastal, SEC East), and even more upset potential in stupid conferences (looking at you, Big Ten). There are weird games, mid-majors against P5 teams, and everything else you could want for a Halloween weekend filled with overtly cheesy ESPN graphics. TO THE GAMES!
Thursday is of interest.
If you follow my work, you know why. North Carolina at #23 Pitt (7, ESPN) is the first of three consecutive weeks of the Coastal’s three undefeated contenders going head-to-head. We pair that with ‘sneaky could still be good but at this point likely aren’t good’ West Virginia at #5 TCU (7:30, FS1). For God’s sake, will someone go ahead and put TCU out of its misery?
Even the nightcap has some intrigue, as disappointing Oregon travels to disappointing Arizona State (10:30, ESPN).
Saturday nooners: I mean…not horrible?
The SEC has two entertaining ones, as #19 Ole Miss at Auburn (ESPN) and South Carolina at Texas A&M (SECN) both tee up early. Ole Miss still controls its destiny in the West, but has (this is amazing) lost 5 straight road games as the favorite. Texas A&M had glow-in-the-dark helmets for Halloween…but won’t be wearing them, because, you know…noon.
Otherwise, there are three B1G games featuring middle-of-the-road teams, and two ACC games doing the same, with one including #17 Florida State hosting Syracuse (ABC). Stick to your SEC roots here.
Cocktail Party Simulcasts: Possible fun, but eh.
If Verne chokes out any chance of a Georgia East title in the first quarter, your contingency plan is as follows:
#12 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 3:30, ESPN: Oklahoma State is probably number 2 in my fraud rankings to this point in this season (Iowa exists). Texas Tech should be able to score with them in Lubbock. If nothing else, the O/U is 79 and the spread is only 3. That’s your typical Big XII football right there!
#3 Clemson at N.C. State, 3:30, ABC: Clemson, by many metrics, has been the best team in college football this year. Dabo Swinney has attacked the ‘Clemsoning’ meme to an almost embarrassing extent. Weird things happen to ACC favorites in Raleigh, although State’s 5 wins (Troy, Presbyterian, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Wake Forest) are about as fraudulent as 5 wins can possibly be.
Maryland at #10 Iowa (ESPN2) and #12 Oklahoma at Kansas (FS1) are also mid-afternooners, but we’re talking some hot garbage by then. Switch back to Georgia/Florida at this point, and curse the injuries, Verne, and, of course, the Florida Gators.
Early evening, pre #PACtion: kinda weak.
A lot more ‘well, this could be fun, but probably won’t be’ games to note.
The headliner for SEC fans is Tennessee at Kentucky (7:30, SECN) in a game that will likely determine third place in the SEC East, project calls for Butch Jones’ head or annoying Tennessee hype heading into November, and Kentucky’s bid for bowl eligibility.
Beyond that? I hate to do it, but #9 Notre Dame is the headliner. They travel to Philly to take on undefeated #21 Temple with GameDay in the house. This at least caused my favorite Hatin’ Ass Spurrier quote of the season.
If GameDay needs help shooting in Philadelphia, they might wanna call Marvin Harrison.
#15 Michigan at Minnesota (7, ESPN): This just feels like a stupid one where Michigan could stumble.
Miami at #22 Duke (7, ESPNU): Hoping for a motivated Miami “it was Al Golden, not us” performance in front of the packed house of 32,000 in Durham.
Vanderbilt at #18 Houston (7, ESPN2): THIS GAME’S IN HOUSTON!?!?! It was bad enough for Vandy when we realized a) Houston was good and b) this more or less represents Vandy’s SoCon Challenge game for the year. Having said that, watch Vandy pull some BS and win.
Nightcaps are my new addiction.
And Washington State is 3-1 in the Pac-12. #8 Stanford at Washington State (10:30, ESPN) probably won’t be a game, but if it is…it decides the Pac-12 North (actually, probably not, because Wazzu has no chance of going 8-1 in that league, right?)
And actually, that’s it! Give me November, where all of the games are meaningful, the weather is cold, and the football is above average.
A very special mid-week pod with a friend of the pod Brandi Mills and a joint farewell to the Ol Ball Coach. Recorded on Tuesday, posted this morning for your listening pleasure.
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To you dear readers who abandoned us because we had nothing to write about:
Welcome back! In case you missed it (going out on a limb here: you probably did), I wrote a WHOLE LOT of College Football Previews this summer. Some good, some bad, some destined to be woefully inaccurate.
Interested in the Big XII? Vanderbilt? The ACC COASTAL!?!?!?! Get a quick overview of all of them below:
6/30: The whole damn thing.
Tweet a link, and tag @Chad_Floyd, and I’ll give you a shoutout during next Monday’s DudeYouPodcast. Or tell me why I’m wrong in the comments section (HINT: I picked Stanford to win the Pac-12 North).