Fourth and Long

Published 7:04 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

Since the beginning of this college football season I have been trying to devote most of my column space to ACC Football. I want to create a preview of the weekend’s upcoming games; at least the ones worth watching. My hope is to provide for you a Saturday, what to watch list of sorts.

I intend to do the same thing this week as well, but I cannot allow this opportunity to go by without talking about the ACC’s newest member.

The news that Notre Dame would be joining the ACC may have been stunning to some people, however I was not one of them. Roanoke-Chowan News Herald Managing Editor Thadd White and I have been discussing what great a couple Notre Dame and the ACC would be for years. My only surprise is that it took this long to happen.

When rumors first began circulating a few years ago about possible ACC expansion I thought for certain that the Fighting Irish would be the first addition. Their inclusion I felt would open the doors for several marquee schools to consider joining what would appear to be the nation’s first super conference.

Alas it was not meant to be and in the end it may have been for the best. ACC Commissioner John Swofford guided the league to recruit schools based on more extensive criteria than football notoriety.

Swofford knew that the SEC is king in football and utilizing all your resources to be the second best football conference in the country is silly if it means giving up your stature as the best in so many other sports. The addition of Pitt and Syracuse solidified the ACC’s position as the best basketball conference in all the land whilst improving their stature in football as well. For what it’s worth it also brings to the conference a power house wrestling and lacrosse program.

Their addition to the conference along with a strong academic reputation may have been what finally convinced Notre Dame to join the ACC.  Whatever the reason, it is a decision that I think will bode well for the both the university and the conference.

Notre Dame will compete in the ACC in all sports except football. This lends the Fighting Irish the credibility and resources of a large and powerful conference affiliation while not giving up their lifetime football contract with NBC.

Their agreement to play at least five ACC teams a year in football still allows the other schools to consider Notre Dame a rival in all sports while guaranteeing the conference five more nationally televised games a year. That’s what you call a win-win situation.

Speaking of ACC football let’s take a moment to showcase a few of this weekend’s upcoming matchups.

While the Demon Deacons may be considered huge underdogs by most I am actually quite interested in how they matchup against 5th ranked Florida State. Wake Forest has had the Seminoles number in recent years and while the Deacs may appear outmatched in regards to talent I need only reflect on last weekend to be reminded that Jim Grobe out-coaches his opposition more often than not.

Boston College at Northwestern is another interesting matchup. I’m just kidding…. bazinga!

North Carolina travels to Louisville for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. This is interesting only because the Cardinals are a good football team and the Tar Heels are talented, but inconsistent. If the week one Heels show up we ought to have a good game on our hands. If the week two squad travels to Kentucky then I expect Cardinal quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to have a career day at the expense of an overwhelmed and underprepared UNC team.

Virginia has a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2005. To do so all they need to do is knockoff a tough Georgia Tech squad in Atlanta… easier said than done.  The Cavaliers struggled at times in a win last week and suffered some key injuries as well. They got the better of the Yellow Jackets last season, but I think they will find it more difficult to do in hostile territory. Either way I expect it will be fun to watch.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at