Excuse My Rant – NC State/UT Series “Shelved”

In an article containing the hopeful nugget that NC State and USC may resume their storied rivalry, The State reports this oft-rumored terrible news:

If the two-year deal is finalized, the Wolfpack would visit Williams-Brice Stadium in 2008, with USC traveling to Raleigh in ‘09. Vaughn said N.C. State is looking to fill a couple of future dates after a home-and-home series with Tennessee was shelved.

It’s hard for words to express how furious I am at this news. First, I will share some background, in full disclosure of my possible personal bias. My mother grew up in Asheville. When she was young, she attended many games in Neyland Stadium with her father (who died 15-20 years ago). Having heard those stories, I was really looking forward to taking her to see our alma mater play in that storied venue. No doubt many other Wolfpackers (especially those with ties to western NC) were also looking forward to it. And it’s not going to happen.

Beyond the letdown for the fans (not a smart idea gievn the understandable unrest after the pedestrian performances of the last three seasons), it’s also dumb strategically. Because of the region’s strong cultural ties to the Vols, playing (and especially beating) UT would be phenomenal exposure for NC State in western NC. Many of the high school players from Charlotte westward grow up dreaming of the SEC, not the ACC. A strong performance or two could have planted many a seed. And it’s not going to happen.

But wait, you might say. Isn’t it likely that the “big boy” simply backed out on NC State? I can’t be 100% certain, but it’s very, very unlikely. It’s been long rumored (from numerous and disparate sources) that Chuck Amato didn’t want this series on the schedule. Despite the EXTRA non-conference game to pad the W/L record and university coffers, playing the Vols (who have been more bark than bite more often than not of late), still is anathema to Chuck. I doubt Tennessee put up a huge fight to keep us on their docket, as they can schedule pretty much anybody they want. But for NC State, it was a huge, once in a generation kind of opportunity. And it’s not going to happen.

Yes, the “new” ACC is strong. But Miami and VT (the 2 best programs) are in the other division, and we’ll never play them both in the same regular season again (in all likelihood). Last season’s Sagarin rankings put NC State’s schedule strength at 43. Even in the never-to-be-replicated tough schedule of 2004 (games against Miami, VT, and Ohio State), we only checked in with the 27th toughest schedule. A little excitement for September wouldn’t be suicidal, or even unwise. But it’s not going to happen.

The only potential mitigating factor is that we are (thankfully) talking about a home-and-home with an old rival – Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks. But at this stage, it’s just talk. And my cynical brain bets it won’t happen. If we go the SEC route, something tells me Kentucky would be more to Chuck’s liking. Hey, the ACC office already arranged for us to play Pitt twice, in order to make nice with the Big East for stealing all of their thunder. Maybe “you people” should just be happy with that for the next 10 years. Maybe we’ll even voluntarily sign up for more games with the purple-clad riotous mob from Down East! After all, with a 12-game schedule, a Tire or Boise Bowl appearance is possible even with a 2-6 ACC mark! And sadly, that is something that very much might happen.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

Chuck Amato General NCS Football

48 Responses to Excuse My Rant – NC State/UT Series “Shelved”

  1. Dan 06/03/2006 at 7:46 PM #

    I think the team that replaces NC State on the UT schedule will say a lot about the reasoning for the change. If its a big time football school that will bring UT more national exposure that would be telling. As would UT changing to a schedule that meant an extra home game instead of a home at home.

    I’m not sure that by the time the game comes around we all wont be happier to have USC than UT anyway. UT is struggling right now. USC may be on the upswing. Either way, its not MTSU.

  2. vtpackfan 06/03/2006 at 8:08 PM #

    There is a problem if we can’t work a deal involving one of these two SEC neighbors. Certainly seems to me like splitting hairs about which would/could be better for the program. If it were revealed later that the UT matter was shelved on our part then the bird in hand is greater than the bird in the bush everytime. Should be no doubt about the Pirates since we nead to take care of our backyard, and is a blast for many.

  3. BladenWolf 06/03/2006 at 8:22 PM #

    I see no loss in playing South carolina over Tennessee. USC is on the upswing while UT is stumbling. If nothing else, the proximity of the schools, and history of USC being a former ACC team, and the recent games played between the two, should make playing the Gamecocks a better game all the way around.

  4. Cardiac95 06/03/2006 at 11:16 PM #

    I might be wrong, but didn’t UT/Fulmer essentially block B. Shaeffer from transferring to NC State because of us being on UT’s schedule (prior to him going the Juco route)?

  5. johnny 06/04/2006 at 9:06 AM #

    I thought at the time(B Sheaffer transfer) that UT would likely drop the games. Was thinking we should have dropped them and may have gotten B Shaeffer.

  6. Glen Sudhop54 06/04/2006 at 1:51 PM #

    Why did we criticize Herb so much about scheduling? Amato’s scheduling is much worse. We would not have sniffed .500 last year without having that cupcake schedule. Plus, we barely had a winning record (with an easy schedule) with,apparently, top NFL talent.

    It ain’t looking good.

  7. BJD95 06/04/2006 at 2:32 PM #

    ^ Both Amato and Sendek have deserved criticism over their scheduling, and both have received it from me.

  8. Wulfpack 06/04/2006 at 2:50 PM #

    Football scheduling seems further under the microscope as compared to basketball. With limited non-conference opportunities, each game on the gridiron is of vital importance.

    To me, the greatest misfortune with weak Wolfpack scheduling is a lack of opportunity for national exposure.

  9. Mr O 06/04/2006 at 4:27 PM #

    College football and college basketball work very different from each other. The structure of college basketball doesn’t penalize you for overly difficult schedules. In fact, the NCAA selection committee rewards you for playing tough OOC schedules.

    However, in college football, you are only rewarded if you are one of the few teams that goes into each season with a chance to win the national title. If you aren’t in the national title picture, then playing a tough OOC schedule can do as much harm to your program as good.

    I do agree that weak OOC schedules are boring for us though. Hopefully that USC game works out.

  10. Spin Wolf 06/04/2006 at 4:47 PM #

    I see this as a matter of really seeing the forest for the trees. I get Amato’s rumored point that the ACC is tough, so why make it any tougher? However, four years of Rivers, stadium upgrades and games against Ohio St. and Notre Dame gave us a taste of the national stage. The problem is, we’re not on that stage yet and unless you schedule “national” match ups against the storied programs, that limits your building ability.

    For example, we’d get more props for going 9-3 and perhaps losing on the road to a “big boy” in a nationally televised match up than the same record playing four so-so or patsy teams out of conference.

    And I don’t care that USC is on the way up and UT is in a little downswing. You can’t even compare the two programs in terms of stature, even if visor- boy makes them Top 10 soon.

    I would love for a coach to tell me why it would be unreasonable to schedule one “national” game per year, one roughly equal opponent (Lousiville, Texas Tech, etc.) and then two patsies out of conference.

    This needs to be question number one on Amato’s first call in show of the year. Come to think of it, I’d bet anything that Annabelle strategically place that quote into the story in the off-season.

  11. vtpackfan 06/04/2006 at 5:41 PM #

    We should all agree then that the games against Ohio St. were a good thing (although they were both bitter pills to swallow in defeat) and something we all want to see more of. Wins out of conference against established programs can be compared to winning Bowl games for most schools. Take out the money associated with the lackluster Bowls, and there is really no comparison to a win against traditional powerhouse OOC team. A bowl win is great, don’t get me wrong, but the season is over. Early season wins can catapault the teams confidence and resolve for the rest of the season, which maybe even carries you into a conference championship or meaningful Bowl game. Its a tough balancing act of trying to stack the deck in your favor sometimes, and rolling the dice in terms of scheduling. I truly think that the Texas win in Columbus carried them all the way to the end (having Vince Young and stingy D didn’t hurt). Lately I like what I see, although if these comments are valid, and USC is just smoke, then my opinion on the the matter can change pretty rapidly.

  12. Texpack 06/04/2006 at 10:03 PM #

    State vs USC has been a great game over the years. What other regular season game had a special MVP award? The fact that I grew up a State fan living in South Carolina also made this a big game every year.

  13. choppack1 06/04/2006 at 10:05 PM #

    Keep the UT game and sign a contract w/ USC 2 years after. Schedule-wise, we’re looking like a laughing stock.

  14. class of 74 06/05/2006 at 6:34 AM #

    If USC replaces UT I could live with that, but if the Citadel, EKU, MTSU take the spot then you can label this football program as an official fraud. It’s very simple, if you want to be the man you must beat the man not look for a way out. With each passing day I grow more skeptical of our football program.

  15. vtpackfan 06/05/2006 at 8:34 AM #

    ^^Agree with both statements to a degree. I wouldn’t go as far as becoming skeptical of the program when it seems that an awful lot of teams go take the low road in college football these days. We would just be blending in, not a laughing stock (this is reserved for draft day when analyst try to make sense of the talent wasted). I think WF, and Clemson have done well in scheduling OOC recently. Some schools have it built in (BC vs. ND, FSU vs. UF), so we would have our work cut out to keep atleast one big OOC game annually. With the facilities upgrade and a head coach with some tenure I think its reasonalbe to expect that now is the time to be the exception, not the rule in college football regarding scheduling.

  16. Wulfpack 06/05/2006 at 8:35 AM #

    Our football program can be easily lost in this new ACC. One more mediorcre season and I seriously doubt ESPN has any interest in televising a Thursday night game. That’s really been our only consisten national exposure. I’d rather go into Knoxville and lose in front of 120,000 strong than whip up on Arkansas State. I had forgotten that we were even in a bowl last year.

  17. BJD95 06/05/2006 at 9:30 AM #

    I really, really like Chop’s idea. We have plenty of room on the schedule to find a place for the Chickens. UT was the only top-notch OOC series scheduled for a decade.

    The championship mentality dictates that you MUST leap at an opportunity for exposure for playing the Vols, and you don’t assume that you’ll lose both, or even EITHER game. And even if you do lose, it probably won’t hurt you, unless it keeps you from going 12-0 (unlikely) or 6-6. And scheduling out of fear of missing the 6-6 mark is, without question, having a loser’s mentality.

  18. VaWolf82 06/05/2006 at 10:57 AM #

    Our football program can be easily lost in this new ACC.

    This is true, but has nothing to do with the OOC schedule. If State does well in the ACC, then we will receive plenty of attention. Playing UT with the team that State had the last two years would accomplish absolutely nothing positive.

    FB scheduling is completely different from BB scheduling. The BB schedule will impact seeding in the NCAAT or will impact which side of the bubble you land on. Other than fan unrest, there is no downside for a weak FB schedule unless you are competing for the MNC.

    Does “championship mentality” mean matching FSU in penalty yardage? If you are talking about something else, then I must have missed it over the last several years.

  19. redfred2 06/05/2006 at 11:09 AM #

    You’re either trying to get better, and want to face some stiff OOC competition to see where you need to improve for the future, or you’re just trying to get into a bowl game any way you can. There is no doubt that NCSU fans will sit up and watch a Thursday night game against anybody in the country, but playing a team like the Vols brings so many more viewers into the mix. Winning those big games is great, but just taking on the challenge lets recruits, and people in general, know that you are serious about improving the program overall.

  20. Wulfpack 06/05/2006 at 11:34 AM #

    “Playing UT with the team that State had the last two years would accomplish absolutely nothing positive.”

    And playing cupcakes does???

    I agree with Redfred. I’d actually really like to see how we would have stacked up against UT the past two years — I’d gather we’d win at least one of them. I think we CAN compete with the UT’s of the world, that’s my point. We already ARE (see FSU, Va. Tech, Miami, BC). I’m tired of seeing our OOC schedule filled with teams I have absolutely no interest in watching. And if I feel this way as a Wolfpack fan, how do you think the rest of the country feels???? Wouldn’t you rather pack up the van and head to Knoxville or Columbia for a football weekend than see us thump some team nobody has ever heard of? Win or lose, don’t you want excitement?

    If we can’t win six games a year playing a difficult schedule then we have no business going to a bowl game anyways.

  21. tooyoungtoremember 06/05/2006 at 11:50 AM #

    ^Nail, meet head.

    I’d rather go 0-12 against the UT’s, USC’s, and OSU’s of the country than go 12-0 against the MTSU’s.

  22. BJD95 06/05/2006 at 12:05 PM #

    Again, we are talking about a FOUR GAME non-conference schedule. And UT would have been the unquestioned “lead game” both years. That leaves plenty of room for a USM-caliber foe and 2 patsies. Does anyone seriously think that’s biting off more than we should be able to chew?

    If one thinks we should just play patsies to cover up glaring program flaws…then we have even bigger problems that I thought.

  23. VaWolf82 06/05/2006 at 12:36 PM #

    If one thinks we should just play patsies to cover up glaring program flaws…

    This is not the issue. No State fan “enjoys” beating up on some I-AA or Div II school. But redfred’s thoughts are simply not true:

    but just taking on the challenge lets recruits, and people in general, know that you are serious about improving the program overall.

    This just doesn’t happen. State played PSU for years and what did that accomplish? It didn’t improve recruiting, it didn’t improve name recognition….it didn’t do anything besides provide a few memorable victories and one painful loss with a 54 yd FG as time expired (witnessed first hand BTW).

    Your program is better because your coaching staff has recruited better players and are teaching them. Who you play doesn’t affect your program at all. It may affect what people write about…but it doesn’t move your program one inch higher or lower.

  24. redfred2 06/05/2006 at 12:41 PM #

    I have to think that the great showings against OSU, great games that ultimately resulted in losses, were a definite plus for Chuck Amato and were reflected in his recruiting success. A 63-0 rout over Middle Tennessee State, in primetime, would have had asolutely no impact in comparison.

    Administrative decisions and easy $$$ are at the root of all of this “take any bowl, anywhere” mentality. Win or lose, those guys are tinkled pink just to make an appearance, and their jobs are safer that way. They don’t want to go out on a limb, risk their comfort level, and get involved in what it takes to become a legitimate power. Some coach somewhere, in either football or basketball, will have to show these administrators that it can be done, irregardless of whether they really want it, or not.

  25. choppack1 06/05/2006 at 12:58 PM #

    Tough call here – I do think you’re in the limelight more if you play high profile games. Of course, the problem w/ scheduling big-time teams is that you have to beat them.

    As a fan, I would have loved to have played UT. It was awesome going to OSU and Tejas. Likewise, it was very special seeing The Buckeyes and Tide in C-F. This is why I’m most disappointed.

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