Wednesday, September 25, 2013

suck it up

Today's Norm Wood column quotes VT's so-popular defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his thoughts about VT's schedule this week.  Cliff notes: he's whining about having to play Georgia Tech on Thursday on the road, just five days after their epic showdown against C-USA powerhouse Marshall.  The natural and obvious reaction for UVA fans is to roll our eyes and call Foster a crybaby.  UVA has to play Clemson this year and Florida State next year in the first two seasons of the 14-team ACC; Tech won't play either until 2017 and 2018, and is playing Maryland this year and Wake the next.  The ACC has certainly done Tech all sorts of favors already - haven't they?

I decided to look at a few actual stats to see if our impressions are right.  One of the biggest complaints UVA fans tend to have is that VT always gets a bye or a long week before the UVA game, and we never do.  It's not really true, though.  Since joining the ACC, we've had one bye (2007) and one Thursday game (2012) before the Tech game; Tech had a Thursday game in 2011 and byes in 2005 and this year.  Not really the screwjob that exists in our heads.

This 5-day layoff thing is another thing entirely.  First off, since 2005, the ACC team with more Thursday night appearances than any other is, of course, VT.  They have more than twice as many as Florida State.  So they're accustomed to the limelight.  I looked back at every Thursday night ACC game (not counting out-of-conference games) and it turns out that - excluding the Hokies - fewer than half but more than one-third of the time, a team gets a 5-day layoff before a Thursday game.  Clearly the league does try and place bye weeks before Thursday games when they can, but can't always do it.

(However, I will give you exactly one guess as to which team has played four Thursday night games since 2005 and never had a prior bye week.  HELPFUL HINT: IT'S VIRGINIA.)

Tech, on the other hand, has a special deal.  Before this season, they've had 15 Thursday night games.  Want to guess how many of them came five days after a Saturday game?  One.  It happened once for them, back in 2006.  Now, I'm sure that was a really horrible experience - but as it happens, the league gave them a bye prior to that game.  They played Southern Miss that Saturday and came back and had no problems beating Clemson on Thursday.

Do you notice something in common?  This Saturday's game wasn't a league game either.  So despite Tech's 16 Thursday ACC tilts, the league has never forced them to play two conference games five days apart.  And I mentioned a special deal.  Most years, Tech has had the following deal:

-- Saturday game
-- Bye
-- Thursday game
-- Thursday game
-- Saturday game

This is what they got in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012.  Pretty cushy.  12 days to prepare, then a full week, then 10 days.  That's not coincidence whatsoever - that's the conference purposely giving them a great deal, and either Tech specifically asks for that or the league just gives their special boy a special handjob.  Clemson this year and FSU next means UVA can't even get a reach-around.

Foster couched his bitch-fest today in terms of player safety, though it never seemed to bother him when teams had five-day layoffs to prepare for the Hokies while he got all kinds of extra prep time.  This is really about a coach accustomed to getting special treatment and now being forced to live like everyone else.

1 comment:

pezhoo said...

That is interesting. VT's schedule always makes me roll my eyes. To be fair though, UVa has done pretty well without a long layoff. Beat UNC in 2006 (that was fun!) and followed up with a win over NC State the next week. In 2011 we beat Miami (thank you Darius Jennings!) and followed up with a nice win over Maryland (highlighted by Perry Jones TD on our first play!) and then last year sucked. Lost badly to UNC and VT after that (so close!) Frankly I can't remember or find the fourth game. But we've handled it just fine. Unfortunately that probably makes it more tempting for the league to screw us in the future.