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Ending the Season with State

I missed something Tom O'Brien's was complaining about last week with regards to ACC scheduling.  Here's his quote from ACC media days:

"I think it's a dumb game to play at that time of the year, because you're crossing divisions," O'Brien said Monday at the ACC media kickoff.


"Certainly you don't want them or you don't want us again playing in the championship game [the next week]," O'Brien said. "We'd be much better served as a conference, I think, to work games within the [divisions] the last game."

Put aside that he's talking about UNC and N.C. State, who have finished one and two in the conference exactly twice (1963 and 1972). The way the ACC's football traditions sort out, with Georgia Tech, Clemson, FSU and the Virginia schools subscribed to their various rivalries, there's at most three possible interdivision games ending the season (This year there's two). With thirty-six possible match-ups for the conference championship, that's only an eight percent chance of a back-to-back rematch. It's also five and a half percent with this season's schedule, and three percent if you naturally assume Duke is mathematically eliminated before the season begins. And all of this is just the simple math, it gets more complicated if you take into consideration that one team has to lose that first match-up.

More importantly why would a repeated game be a bad thing, especially if it's a rivalry game? They'll be the two of the top teams in the conference, meaning the chances of either or both of the games being blowouts will be slim. No, the real concern is the fact that once again, the ACC is trying to replace the Carolina-Duke season ending game with ne that will draw a little bit more excitement. This was a big push about a decade ago, when UNC and State played two games in Charlotte in 1998 and 1999, although only the former actually ended the season, and 1995, when the teams met in Raleigh over the Thanksgiving break. All three games went down to the wire and had bowl eligibilty implications; the UNC-Duke game has been exciting maybe three times in my lifetime, and only once when both teams made bowls (Ah, 1994).  So maybe State should get the end-of-season slot. But is it really a rivalry if one of the coaches doesn't want to finish the season with the game?