Cincinnati Bearcats and the Pittsburgh Panthers, 2009
The Atlantic Coast Conference is the new Big East.
Pale is the new tan.
Pale has been the new tan for several months, but pop culture is just now picking up on it.
The ACC has been the new Big East for years.
(source: WVU featured columnist Jeff Woollard )
However, it took two disastrous weeks of Titanic proportions to drive the point home to the pollsters.
My younger daughter has been a dancer as long she can remember. From the day she first put on the ballet slippers through her time with a competitive modern dance company, and then as a dance major in college, I’ve been honored to be in her audience.
As with all dancers, she performs with grace and seamless motion. But my girl offers more: She’s an athlete, possessing a powerful, commanding presence on the stage.
Running, jumping, strength, and quickness...I guess she got it from her father.
I cannot describe how proud I am to be her father.
Saying it in sports lingo, she turned pro a couple of years ago. I’m happy she took the next step, no matter that most every professional dancer cannot live on the money they earn dancing. For financial support, they all work a couple of jobs.
My daughter has three.
She is a smooth combination of the art she so loves and her ability to lay that art aside to live the reality in which non-artists live.
Possibly because she is an artist, she always had the ability to catch on early to the world around her. As a result, she has always had a keen sense for what is hip and for what is not hip.
Finally, I have reached the point.
Pale is the new tan. She's told me that a couple of times over the last several months.
And, she's right.
I can't buy a cold Coors without Kardishian and Snooki bronzed look-alikes asking for my ID.
The Bain de Soleil? It is way, way beyond its useful life, ladies.
After the games of college football’s opening week, the Big East’s rankings were...well... rank. Numbers 1, 3, and 4—that’s Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Connecticut—were shown the exit.
Of the three, the Bearcats and the Huskies each took it on their respective chins, followed by an appropriate drop in the polls.
No argument here.
And, Pittsburgh? Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers were defeated in overtime by No. 24 Utah. Now, losing a game in overtime on the road to a ranked opponent is nothing to be ashamed of.
But the USA Today's coaches saw it and thought about it for three days, then pushed the throttle back on Pitt, dropping them into an auguring power dive from the No. 15 to the No. 29 spot.
The demise of Pittsburgh came on the Thursday night. Rich Rod whipped up on Connecticut in The Big House that Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening EDT set the table for a Fresno State spirited victory against Cincinnati.
Of course, that weekend's West Virginia win over an FCS beach school would not help the league's cause.
It probably did more harm. By midnight, the obituaries for the Big East football conference were being published.
At some time, usually in the preseason, the polls always give it to the Big East and give it to them good.
Each year in late summer, usually soon after the first two weeks, the conference is six feet under.
With West Virginia's early status as the de facto conference leader, the Big East’s other seven tagged along in spirit to the Friday night showcase at Marshall, hoping to see an Ohio State-esque thrashing.
In fact, it got worse as WVU was forced to mount a way-too-late cyclonic comeback to get Conference USA's Marshall to overtime.
That ESPN telecast gave all the evidence the pollsters needed to discount the Mountaineers' navigation through its schedule in the "dead conference."
To get the best feel for how well the coaches take care of the Atlantic Coast Conference, extend the Preseason Top 25 to the Preseason Top 35. Begin by looking at the conferences and counting the schools in that conference represented in the Top 35:
Southeastern: Eight (I have no argument with that.)
Atlantic Coast: Six (you cannot be serious!)
Big Ten: Four (top-heavy, but No. 2 through No. 14 are strong.)
Pac-10: Four (USC’s inclusion would have been five.)
Big East: Four (always bringing up the rear, more later.)
Big XII: Three (the three are Top 10.)
Mountain West: Three (save us from the ACC!)
Western Athletic: One (Boise State; No. 5 in your poll, No. 1 in your heart.)
Conference USA: One (Houston, a touchdown mill.)
And don’t forget Notre Dame, as our monsignor does Touchdown Jesus at least twice every mass.
The six teams comprising half of the Atlantic Coast Conference and their coaches’ preseason ranking were:
No. 6 Virginia Tech
No. 13 Miami
No. 17 Georgia Tech
No. 18 North Carolina
No. 20 Florida State
No. 35 Clemson
The week one results saw the six ACC members shuffle around, but remaining in the Top 35:
No. 12 Miami, after barely manhandling Florida A&M.
No. 13 Virginia Tech, as No. 3 Boise State could still be in rapid-eye-movement dreamland.
No. 17 Georgia Tech, maintaining No. 17 after defeating South Carolina State.
No. 18 Florida State, moving up in part because others moved down as the Seminoles pounded Samford.
No. 31 North Carolina, playing LSU valiantly in Atlanta after the academics controversy decimated the team.
No. 33 Clemson, waiting in the wings after a victory over North Texas and preparing for Presbyterian.
The week two results? Huh.
It's a lot like when the stock market crashed in 1987. Prices of all stocks, even backbone blue-chip companies like IBM and McDonalds, dropped 20 to 30 percent in one day.
That day is now known as Black Monday. If you weren't there, take my word for it: We thought the economy was falling apart, we were all going to lose all our money, and we longed for the halcyon days of the previous week.
If you’re an Atlantic Coast Conference fan, that’s what week two’s Saturday felt like.
No. 17 Miami lost at No. 2 Ohio State, but the mighty 'Cane Nation still believes this is the year! The year, just like those years in the 80s! And the early 90s! Try to remember!
No. 26 Clemson, a survivor with its victory over Presby!
No. 27 Florida State, losing a road game convincingly at No. 10 Oklahoma.
No. 35 Georgia Tech, dropping to Kansas on the road.
And, from the Carry On, Wayward Son Department:
No. 49 Virginia Tech, leading the ACC rankings crash after the FCS James Madison shock.
Well, that was quick.
It didn't take long for those who exalted Virginia Tech at No. 6 in the preseason to absolutely punish them in the week two poll with a pittance of only four points. That's four points total, the college football equivalent to the study of physics and its no-molecular-motion vacuum.
Four coaches out of 63 voted for the Hokies (now an appropriate nickname) in the No. 25 spot. Or perhaps one coach, not Frank Beamer, but maybe a desperate ACC coach, attempting with his one rogue ballot to subplant the 21st place team, which with gorgeous irony turned out to be West Virginia.
The circle of life.
Fate has presented us with four of the best ways to resolve this inter-conference dispute.
Tee it up.
A quartet of Atlantic Coast Conference teams take on four Big East Conference teams in matchups scheduled in the next ten days. They are:
Thursday, Sept. 16 - Cincinnati at North Carolina State
The Wolfpack's Russell Wilson, one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, has the gun to lead host NC State to a victory against Cincinnati.
The 2008 and 2009 Big East champion is scrambling for 2010 respect. It's doubtful they'll get it after seeing Fresno State take quarterback Zach Collaros down for eight sacks.
Saturday, Sept. 18 - Maryland at West Virginia
Maryland, a surprise 2-0 team with more than four points in the coaches' poll, visits the No. 21 Mountaineers.
In the two seasons of 2008 and 2009, WVU was 3-3 against out-of-conference Bowl Championship Series teams. The three opponents West Virginia beat have a mediocre total record during those two seasons of 16-17.
Thursday, Sept. 23 - Miami at Pittsburgh
The implications of this nationally televised ESPN game are tremendous. Each team wants to get back on track.
No. 17 Miami has its second chance to get a victory against a BCS team, and the ACC title just might be theirs to lose. Pittsburgh is just looking for the chance to prove the No. 15 preseason rank was valid.
Saturday, Sept. 25 - North Carolina at Rutgers
In mid-August, the Heels appeared to have the upper hand in this game. Interestingly, the Rivals.com preseason No. 40 Rutgers' month of September is worse.
Despite investigations targeting a loss of institutional control, North Carolina may be able to control Rutgers by taking advantage of their anemic offense.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is the New Big East?
In ten days, the ACC can win their way out of it.