Live from Tampa: Tech goes for a title in a windy setting

Because nothing says ACC football like a pirate ship. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The ACC motto: Nothing says college football like a pirate ship in the end zone. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Tampa — The ACC tried Jacksonville. Didn’t work. Then it tried here. Hasn’t worked. Next year it tries Charlotte. Probably won’t work.

The ACC has this problem. It wants to be seen as a big-time football conference but lives cheek-by-jowl with the big-time football conference. The SEC championship game — the granddaddy of such events, at least in the upper tier of college football — dwarfs all else. Best teams, loudest fans, nicest setting. (Atlanta, Ga., thank you very much.)

The ACC expanded to 12 teams in 2005. Its first title game — between Florida State and Virginia Tech — drew 72,749. Last year’s title game — staged here, in the stadium rigged out with the pirate ship — drew an actual crowd of 27,360. (Nearly twice that many tickets were sold.) Tonight’s game between Georgia Tech and Clemson will do better than that because these schools are much closer to Florida than were Boston College and Virginia Tech, but nobody is predicting a sellout.

Raymond James Stadium has a pirate ship — and it’s a cool pirate ship, I must say — but it also has an inherent drawback: It lacks a roof. And if you’re going to play a football game outdoors in December, even on the Gulf Coast of F-L-A, it would behoove you to control the climate. Especially if your target audience is a conference that isn’t exactly the essence of football fandom. (Basketball is another matter, but the ACC has long been really good in basketball. And most basketball games are staged indoors.)

Just for fun, I checked the weather in Charlotte as of 5 p.m. Saturday — 42 degrees with a 70 percent chance of rain. Bank of America Stadium, the next home for this wayfaring event, is likewise open-air. Ouch, babe.

It had rained for several days here, but the rain ceased this morning. Now it’s just gray and windy. (The Dunedin boat parade was canceled today because of the wind, FYI.) Temperature was 57 degrees at 5 p.m. and was expected to drop into the 40s by the time the ACC anoints its champ. Mercifully, there was only a 10 percent chance of rain.

OK, you’re saying: “This is football, dude, and football is supposed to be played outdoors come Hades or high water!” My reply: The ACC is largely a Southern-based conference. We Southerners aren’t used to sitting and shivering. And if you’re neutral wondering if you should pay money to go watch Tech and Clemson play in Tampa — heck, even if you’re a Tech or Clemson fan — you might feel more inclined to trot out the credit card if you knew you weren’t going to be miserable throughout.

And there’s the ACC’s biggest problem: The only real alternative stadium from Boston to Miami that bears a roof is the one already booked this weekend. The Georgia Dome is exactly what the league needs, but the SEC got there first. And the SEC loves the Dome. And the feeling is mutual.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney  suggested Friday that the ACC might pair its title game with the SEC championship in Atlanta, which would make great good sense. Reps from the conferences already oppose one another in both the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and the bowl formerly known as the Peach, and those games do sellout business. (And Atlanta is, by dint of Tech’s location, technically an ACC city.)

But would the ACC ever want to play alongside Big Brother? Would it want its status as the JV league underscored with a side-by-side comparison? In an ideal world, no. But the first five installments of the ACC title game haven’t been ideal. The event needs a lift. The Dome would supply one. I say try it.

And with that, I’ll open the floor to comments, questions and venue suggestions. I’ll be here until Tech wins — I say the score will be 31-27 — and even if it loses. Join me, won’t you?

2,008 comments Add your comment

Meanwhile...Mark I'm shocked

December 5th, 2009
5:33 pm

Mark I’m shocked that you are in Tampa at this late hour.

Of course I’m referring to the ACC’s decision, to give this game a venue more commiserate with its status, relocating the game to a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi as part of the undercard for the Larry Holmes-Trevor Berbick rematch.

I know Holmes-Berbick will be on the Versus Network; will they show the Tech-Clemson game as well as part of the telecast, or do we have just you to rely on?

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
5:34 pm

If Larry Holmes jumps over a car, I’m switching to that event myself.

5th year Cox will do just fine

December 5th, 2009
5:36 pm

PUNCH CLEMSON IN THE FACE

December 5th, 2009
5:37 pm

11-2 JACKETS

mmgtfan

December 5th, 2009
5:41 pm

What’s for dinner Mark?

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
5:44 pm

Nothing yet, mmgtfan. We’re here so early they haven’t started serving. But I have high hopes. The press food at Buccaneer games is legendary in our little industry.

Duke Yellowjacket

December 5th, 2009
5:44 pm

Why can’t the ACCCG be played at the home of the higher-ranked team? It may not be the perfect solution, but it would likely solve the game’s chronic attendance issue.

As for the weather, the game of football was made to be played in less-than-perfect conditions.

THWG!

StraightJacket

December 5th, 2009
5:44 pm

Mark, HOW windy is it? Windy enough for Parker to throw a few picks?

I’ve been saying it for …. 4 years: If ATL can handle the multiple-event / same venue / same day chaos that the Olympics provided in 1996, surely we can do the same with the ACC / SEC. Bama and Auburn did it in the old days at Legion Field (when it seated 72,000); Auburn vs. Ole Miss at 1:00; Bama vs. MSU at 7:30.

Charlotte will be a disaster, but the idiots in Greensboro haven’t figured that out yet. Swofford needs to be kicked out, and the ACC needs to hire …

Gary Stokan as the new Commish.

That will fix things.

-SJ

Alabama Jack

December 5th, 2009
5:45 pm

Its Championship weekend. What channel are the dawgs on?

Meanwhile...why the Georgia Dome fuss?

December 5th, 2009
5:47 pm

Funny you should mention that Mark. Turns out Holmes will be attempting to jump over the Ramblin’ Wreck at halftime.

Still not sure what the fuss is about the SEC Title Game at the Dome. Don’t people know the ACC champion has a date in the Dome next week? Of course that’s because the ACC champion has an automatic bye into the Class AAAA championship.

Wont Jones

December 5th, 2009
5:48 pm

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
5:49 pm

It’s not a gale, StraightJacket, but the wind is significant. The streamers atop the goalposts are blowing flat out as I type.

Wont Jones

December 5th, 2009
5:49 pm

Hey Mark-
Did Damon ever get back with you about the post-game pizza in the press box at UGA?

PUNCH CLEMSON IN THE FACE

December 5th, 2009
5:50 pm

CPJ said Nesbitt was ready to go,
do you know if he’s 100%?

Make it Atlanta

December 5th, 2009
5:54 pm

Atlanta can handle both games. And with the College Football Hall of Fame coming here next year, it makes all the more sense to be the home of college football and both the ACC and SEC conferences .

Atlanta still is the Mega City of the South – let’s make the party even bigger

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
5:55 pm

Haven’t heard from Damon about the pizza.

PJ said Nesbitt was fine yesterday. I’ve heard nothing to indicate otherwise.

A few Tech players are out throwing the ball back and forth. Because Tech is, as you’re aware, famous for its passing.

Mike Hunt

December 5th, 2009
5:55 pm

((((((((30-24)))))))) Eat it, Nerds! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

George Godsey

December 5th, 2009
5:56 pm

Does anyone know what time the game starts? If we call ahead maybe they will start when enough people get there. This is a sellout, correct? LMAO

Akhil

December 5th, 2009
5:56 pm

Hey Mark -
What does the clemson-tech fan ratio look like?
Good attendance this time?

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

December 5th, 2009
5:57 pm

Wont Jones

December 5th, 2009
5:57 pm

Do you have to pay to eat in the press box? Scott Howard implied it would cost more than eating at Burger King, but it sounds like a good deal. I guess the AJC would have to pick up the tab, if they can still afford to…

Wow

December 5th, 2009
5:57 pm

HOW BOUT THEM DAWGS!!!!!

Ben Dover

December 5th, 2009
5:57 pm

Music City Bowl is watching with eager anticipation hoping they are not unfortunate enough to have to give a bid out to the nerds.

stub hub

December 5th, 2009
5:58 pm

tickets for Another Crappy Conference Championship game are ranging from 5 dollars to 16.99……lol lol l ol

Mark PRicht

December 5th, 2009
5:58 pm

Where is my long lust buddy, WOOFWOOF?

The Griller

December 5th, 2009
5:59 pm

Is it charcoal season yet?

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
6:00 pm

Some places charge for us to eat. (Tech, for instance.) Which is fine by me. But I believe tonight’s fare is on the ACC tab.

And believe it or not, there’s a Burger King down the street from the stadium. I know because that was my postgame meal after the Super Bowl in January 1984.

stub hub

December 5th, 2009
6:00 pm

Mark Richt owns Paul Johnson…now 2 and 1…… and Mark Richt owns the nerds 8-1…………Take that Take that

Mark Bradley

December 5th, 2009
6:00 pm

Oh, and I can’t tell the fan ratio yet. I’m guessing it’ll be 65-35 Tech.

Meanwhile...can Mark address the rumors?

December 5th, 2009
6:01 pm

Tech throwing the ball in warmups? So that explains it.

Mark can you address the rumor that CPJ crashed the Ramblin’ Wreck into a fire hydrant when Houston’s offensive coordinator threatened to release some incriminating text messages that indicated CPJ was abandoning the running game?

And what’s with the #$@@ Instant Replay booth? It took 27 minutes of further review to finally declare Meanwhile was…FIRST!

NERDS!!!

December 5th, 2009
6:01 pm

NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!!

Chris

December 5th, 2009
6:01 pm

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. MAKE IT A HOME GAME FOR ONE TEAM, DIVY UP THE TICKETS 50/50. ALTERNATE THE HOME GAME BETWEEN COASTAL AND ATLANTIC EACH YEAR. SELLOUT EVERY YEAR WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM. IT WILL NEVER BE A SELLOUT UNTIL YOU DO THIS.

NERDS!!

December 5th, 2009
6:02 pm

NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!! NERDS!!! 30-24!!!

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:02 pm

Mark, what should i do now?

become a professional writer?

best, willie

Who CARES

December 5th, 2009
6:02 pm

noone cares about this game other than gt and clempson….UGA=ACC CHAMPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wont Jones

December 5th, 2009
6:02 pm

Mark,
How much longer until these championships also get re-named to the highest bidder? It certainly has worked for the bowl games, and must generate a lot of money.

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:02 pm

and i think this blog will be 65% georgia; 35% tech.

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:03 pm

what time is kickoff and where is the game Mark?

GTMANIA

December 5th, 2009
6:03 pm

Hey mark, how do you see this game shaping up tonight? Do you like the jackets to bounce back after a lay down against uga or do you see clemson playing 60 min off football and beating the favored jackets?

PhoneHome

December 5th, 2009
6:04 pm

They need to move the game to the home field of the top team each year.

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:05 pm

i had a great post firing limerick that was wasted on another blog. sigh.

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:05 pm

Mark, quit looking for Russ. he aint there.

Jolly Good Fellow

December 5th, 2009
6:05 pm

Hey Mark, any chance the Panthers build a retractable roof stadium in the near future?

GTMANIA

December 5th, 2009
6:06 pm

Mark how come the uga fans are haters, is it because they dont have the national championships we do? hahahahahahahahahahaha 45-42 rednecks!!!!!

GTMANIA

December 5th, 2009
6:07 pm

Mark will tech bounce back tonight or will clemson win it’s first title since 1991?

Wont Jones

December 5th, 2009
6:07 pm

Obscure reference, Willie. Keep trying.

willie martinez

December 5th, 2009
6:07 pm

writing is now in my blood
the emotions come with a flood
fired i’ve been
but that’s no sin
i think now i’ll have a bud

uberVU - social comments

December 5th, 2009
6:07 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by MarkBradleyAJC: Chatting live from the ACC title game, where it’s windy but not wet. And there’s a pirate ship, too. http://bit.ly/8ZEhGo…

GTMANIA

December 5th, 2009
6:08 pm

clemson or the yellow jackets mark?

Danny Ford

December 5th, 2009
6:08 pm

Reminds me of the ’80s…oh by the way…I know how to get to a Tech fan

30-24 BWAHAHAHAHHAH!