The ACC is above rooting for anything except a Carolina-Duke final in its basketball tournament (heh, heh), but the conference can be excused for breaking out the orange tiger paws this weekend. Because the ACC needs Clemson to oppose Georgia Tech in its championship game.
Through four installments, the ACC title game has been a raging dud. It has already moved from Jacksonville to Tampa, and the relocation hasn’t helped. Some 53,000 tickets (of 65,000 available) were sold for last season’s game between Virginia Tech and Boston College, and roughly half went unused. Next year the game is moving again: To Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, where the potential lurks for some chilly weather the first Saturday in December.
Already the ACC championship has given us The Worst Game Ever Played — Wake Forest beating Georgia Tech 9-6 in 2006 on a rainy day with no touchdowns scored and a placekicker named MVP — and consecutive episodes of Virginia Tech versus Boston College, which isn’t a marquee matchup in Florida. The SEC title game, staged the same day, dwarfs the ACC in quality, impact and passion. Which is where Clemson comes in.
Clemson is one of the few ACC schools that cares more about football than basketball. It’s one of the few that has a national profile in the sport, and it’s the only one that has C.J. Spiller enrolled in classes. The prospects of watching Paul Johnson’s offense try to outscore the multifaceted CJS might — I said “might” — draw a viewer or two away from the Big 12 title game, which will be played at the same time in the new Arlington Stadium the night of Dec. 5.
And, to be blunt, Tech also needs Clemson to beat Virginia on Saturday and thereby punch its ticket to Tampa. Otherwise the Jackets might have Boston College as the opponent and, with all due respect to the Eagles, even Tech fans wouldn’t be pumped over that pairing. (Matt Ryan isn’t apt to discover a bonus year of eligibility. Nor is Doug Flutie.) Clemson at least has a rivalry aspect to it; it sits up I-85 and has a bunch of alums living here, and it also has C.J. Spiller.
Yes, Tech-Clemson would be a rematch, but it would be a rematch of a great game played almost three months ago. All things considered, a rematch is by far the preferable scenario.Nobody profits from a snooze championship game, not even the winner. This Saturday, even the Jackets should be daubing on the orange face paint and chanting, “Let’s go, Dabo!”