Sports

Nothing beats that BC-Maine showdown

Friday, May 16, 2014

Congratulations to the Atlantic Coast Conference on its recent decision to keep its football teams’ conference schedules to just eight games a season.

It was very important that the member schools agree to do this, in order to preserve the out-of-conference matchups that are overflowing with tradition. You know, like Florida State-Nevada and Clemson-The Citadel, and of course, Boston College-Maine.

What would we do without the Boston College-Maine game on the college football schedule? When these two teams meet again this year, Maine will try to snap a four-game losing streak that dates back 99 years.

There are some that will blame the ACC’s unwillingness to add a ninth conference game on Notre Dame, and that’s reasonable. A lot of college football’s problems can be traced back to South Bend, Ind.

In case you didn’t notice, Notre Dame became a partial member of the ACC for the 2013-14 school year. Why not a full member? Because football didn’t join in the fun, instead reaching an agreement with the ACC that at least five conference members would get to play the Irish each season.

So, really, adding a ninth conference game would have been like adding a 10th one for some teams – kinda, sorta.

But the bigger issue is the college football postseason,which, if you recall, will actually happen for the first time this year. With Florida State already playing its eight conference games, plus Notre Dame, Florida and Oklahoma State out of conference, why would the Seminoles replace their game against The Citadel with a team it might actually lose to?

Now before we’re too critical of the ACC, I should point out it wasn’t the first conference to do this. The Southeastern Conference voted down a nine-game conference schedule earlier this year, and since everyone in America wants to be the SEC, the ACC had to follow along.

I suppose it would be fair though to give everyone a pass for this season. No one really knows how the new four-team playoff is going to work.

Instead of computer rankings, a 13-person selection committee will run the show, with Jeff Long, the Arkansas athletic director, the chairman. I don’t personally know Long’s football knowledge, but here’s a list of the coaches he’s hired as an AD: Dave Wannstedt (while Long was at Pitt and fired by his successor), Bobby Petrino (later fired for an affair with a volleyball player), John L. Smith (not retained) and Bret Bielema.

The so-called power conferences - SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten (which has 14 teams) and the Big 12 (which has 10 teams) - have planned ahead to try to boost their strength of schedule in the eyes of the selection committee, with most agreeing to schedule a school from another power conference every year.

Of course, that’s more likely to produce games between Ohio State and Vanderbilt than Ohio State and Alabama.

This time, the ACC is at the front on how to fix that problem. Some schools have tossed around the idea of, in years they aren’t playing Notre Dame, scheduling “non-conference” games against other ACC schools. Let that sink in for a moment, because we’ve come full circle.

Why travel halfway across the country to play another power conference, when there is a perfectly good one from your own conference practically in your backyard?

Just don’t call it a conference game, and don’t you dare take away that game against The Citadel. When else is the fourth string offensive line going to get any reps?

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).

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