Tuesday, November 24, 2009

combination roundtable and Q&A

I told you we'd be trying to cram as much bloggering into a tiny space as possible. Today that involves writing the ACC roundtable from work. Also, we've invited Chokie blogger Gobbler Country inside for a little Q&A session. Don't worry, he's housetrained and even wiped his feet. My answers to his questions will be linked as soon as he posts them. Which is right now. So, first: roundtable, which by the way is hosted this week by YANCSTSB, then: Q&A. Go.

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?

I dunno, I mean, I sorta feel like it's this way every year. Problem is, there is absolutely nothing at stake outside of bragging rights. The ACCCG is already decided, and the teams in it aren't even playing ACC games this week. The coaches that are getting fired are pretty much already fired. Nobody's going BCSing except for the ACCCG winner. Hell, nobody's bowl eligibility is even at stake. By now, you're in or you're out. If these weren't rivalry games, all the down-and-out teams would be beyond caring and all the bowl teams would be just hoping to get through without an injury.

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?

Well, whoever wins will be pumped right up, but they both should win. I think the only real effect on the ACCCG will be potential injuries.

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's perfectly fair to shorten that to three or four years. By year four, you've got all your guys in place and there's absolutely no excuses about learning a new system. You should be hitting your stride. Industry standard should be four, and if after three years the program is still foundering and there appears to be no reason to expect any improvement in the next season, then dropping the axe is also fair.

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?

Not very high. The combination of basically almost never having both teams be good at the same time and not having anything tangible to play for (i.e., Michigan/Ohio State lore is founded on the Rose Bowl as the every-year prize) combined to make the Virginia instate rivalry not too important in national eyes. And yes, "win more" would be a huge plus. But I think the right step has already been taken, and in 2007, it came to fruition, with the winner earning the ACCCG berth and the game on national TV. With the two teams in the same division, there's a good chance each year that the outcome of the game will have some kind of effect on the division title. That'll slowly but surely increase visibility.

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?

Alright, look, man. I might have gone to school in the South but I was born and raised in the North. And besides that, Virginia isn't really the barbecuing epicenter of the world anyway. You want barbecue debates, go to Alabama or something. It's not that we don't like barbecue, but damn if we don't find it a bit silly that you care that damn much. We don't really expect you to know the right way to order a coney dog or care which of the two rival establishments you get it from (and if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about or who these establishments are then you get the point), and we don't want to be pulled into a knock-down, drag-out fight over who has too much vinegar in their sauce.


And that concludes the ACC Roundtable portion of our program. Next is the Gobbler Country Q&A. VT is blessed with some of the highest-quality blogs in the entire footballin' world and GC takes a proud place in that lineup. F4H gives as good as he takes. If only more of the fanbase could read. Anyway, my questions, his answers:

1. Is this the year Bud Foster takes a head-coaching job somewhere?

I think it is and if it doesn't happen this year it will definitely be next year. I think he's realized that if he wants to be a head coach he can't just sit around and wait for a BCS job, that he's going to have to go cut his teeth somewhere else. He expressed interest in the Memphis job after Tommy West was fired. While I don't think he'll go to Memphis, just his interest in the job signals a shift in his philosophy that I think will lead us down to him ultimately taking a job in CUSA or the MAC if a BCS team doesn't come calling.

2. Speaking of coordinators, criticism of Bryan Stinespring has been way down from last year's record highs. This isn't surprising considering VT leads all ACC non-weird-offense teams in rushing. Has Stinespring been redeemed in the eyes of the VT faithful, or are they just biding their time until Ryan Williams isn't around to save his ass?

There's a certain percentage of Virginia Tech fans that will never be happy with Stinespring unless we're racking up 500 yards per game. I don't think he's completely redeemed and like you said, once he's back to not having a special talent like Ryan Williams around the criticism will go back to being a roar instead of its current level: The muffled ramblings of the drunken proletariat who have no knowledge of football.

3. You know you won't have Al Groh to kick around any more after this year. Deep down, is there anyone you're hoping UVA doesn't hire? Is there anyone you hope they do? (Other than Stinespring?)

Yeah, I can't think of one I hope they don't hire: Bud Foster. I don't know how receptive most Wahoos are to the idea of Foster as their head coach (Editor's note: Not very), but that's my biggest fear. As for who you should hire: Jim Grobe. He can't beat us, either.

4. Ryan Williams on Saturday: 35 carries, or 40?

Hopefully we'll be up 28 by the time he gets to 25 carries and Josh Oglesby can grind out the last 20 or so.

5. If you promise to take Cody Grimm off the field, I'll let you remove one player from our defense. Who'll it be?

Ras-I Dowling. That would set Jarrett Boykin free to make plays down field and keep you guys from focusing all your attention to the running game.

6. If I get invited to a backyard jacuzzi/raccoon-hunting party to be held in the bed of an '88 Dodge Ram that hasn't left its cinderblocks in six years and hasn't been detached from the trailer in eight, is it considered a faux pas to bring a highfalutin' fancypants beer like Sam Adams?

Dawdge is fer pussies [/spits into empty RC Cola bottle]. Get yerself a Ford. And as fer that Sammell Adams... pssh. We only drink Coors in cans with camo on 'em. Or the orange and maroon Bud Light cans. And we would never hunt Steve the Raccoon an' his kin. (Editor's note: But they do eat fried turkey legs at the stadium.) Besides, don't you know oh-possum is lower in co-lest-o-rawl? I thought you were one a them educated sumbitches from that lah-dee-dah university up in Shaw-lets-vull. In other words, yes.

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