When it comes to football, the Atlantic Coast Conference has become a sad, depressing little thing this season. Given the sentiment in the sports universe lately it seems some would be happy to see the ACC downgraded to a flag football club. Granted, Virginia Tech's woes are most to blame for that sentiment (charged with defending the honor of all BCS conferences, they choked against Boise State and did even worst against a friggin' FCS team the next week). But after the loss to Ohio State, the 'Canes sure haven't helped. Tonight's game against Pitt is the last chance to defend the honor of the ACC until November. I still think we have the best shot of winning the ACC, but what pride is there in winning a conference that's a universal joke?
Granted our last two non-conference games of the regular season, tonight's game (on ESPN at 7:30) and the season closer against USF, are against the Big East -- that other completely laughable BCS conference. Still, we can at least temporarily claim that the ACC isn't the absolute worse.
Plus a loss tonight would mean that Miami would unquestionably fall out of the rankings, meaning the ACC would then face the embarrassment of not having a single ranked team. Even though the conference has struggled in the past few years, we could still often claim the pride of having the most ranked teams of any conference.
So even though this doesn't count in the conference champ race, and our hopes of reaching the national championship are nil after the Ohio State loss there's a lot of conference pride at stake here.
There's also the interesting back story between coaches Randy Shannon and Dave Wannstedt. To make a long story short, Wannstedt was the Defensive Coordinator under Jimmy Johnson for the Hurricanes back when Shannon was a player. When Johnson left for the Cowboys, he took Wannstedt with him and the two drafted Shannon. Shannon's NFL career was short lived, and he became a graduate assistant at UM. Fast forward to the late '90s and Johnson and Wannstedt both ended up back in Miami, this time at the Dolphins. They recruited Shannon as linebacker coach.
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Wannstedt eventually become head coach of the Dolphins, but resigned and shortly after became head coach at Pitt. It's not exactly a Nick Saban-situation, considering the guy resigned when the team was 1-8 and he didn't leave town with his pants on fire.
So unless you're a big fan of seeing the former student beating his teacher, there's not exactly a lot to that story that should add extra heat to the game, so we're sticking to our ACC story line.
The good news is that the 'Canes come into this away game as favorites. Though, even if we do lose we still can win the ACC and make it to the Orange Bowl. Then again, by that point it might carry all the pride of winning the PeeWee football championship.