Wednesday, July 29, 2009

O'Brien doesn't like playing UNC in finale

GREENSBORO - N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien wasn't happy to see the Wolfpack's game with rival North Carolina scheduled for the last week of the 2009 season.

“I think it's a dumb game to play at that time of the year, because you're crossing divisions,” O'Brien said Monday at the ACC media kickoff.

Since the ACC expanded to 12 teams in 2005, N.C. State has been in the Atlantic Division, while North Carolina has played in the Coastal Division.

The division winners meet in the ACC championship game on the Saturday after the regular season concludes. That means N.C. State could meet North Carolina in the ACC title game Dec. 5 in Tampa the week after the teams' scheduled Nov. 28 meeting in Raleigh.

Although a championship game meeting seems unlikely this season after the schools were picked to finish third in their respective divisions in the preseason media poll, O’Brien doesn’t want to take that chance.

“Certainly you don't want them or you don't want us again playing in the championship game (the next week),” O'Brien said. “We'd be much better served as a conference, I think, to work games within the Coastal Division or Atlantic Division the last game.”

O'Brien voiced concern about the same issue last season, when N.C. State played cross-divisional foe Miami in the finale. That game did not have an impact on the ACC championship race.

North Carolina coach Butch Davis seemed unconcerned about when the rivalry game is scheduled, but ACC associate commissioner Michael Kelly, who creates the football schedule, shares O'Brien's concern. In a perfect world, Kelly said, ACC teams would play only division rivals or nonconference opponents in the final week of the regular season.

But Kelly said scheduling is complicated. Schools set their own four-game nonconference schedules, and the ACC tries to accommodate one specific scheduling request for conference games for each school.

After those criteria are met, the remaining matchups and sites for that particular year are entered into a computer program that generates potential schedules.

Kelly said there isn't an option that satisfies everybody on every week. He said the benefit of the North Carolina at N.C. State date is an opportunity for a good crowd, even though the game is on Thanksgiving weekend when many students will be home on break.

Other in-state rivalries such as Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida and Georgia Tech-Georgia traditionally are played late in the season, but those are nonconference games. Kelly said there is no plan to make N.C. State-North Carolina an annual staple at the end of the schedule.

“It's not in our plans to necessarily gravitate to that,” Kelly said. “We'll kind of see how it goes and see what the feedback of the school is in terms of their priorities of scheduling and see how it goes from there.”

In order for North Carolina to play N.C. State on the final weekend, the Tar Heels' traditional season-ending meeting with Duke had to be moved. Forty-two times in the last 44 years, Duke's final regular-season opponent has been North Carolina.

The teams will meet on Nov. 7 in Chapel Hill this season. Duke sports information director Art Chase said the benefit of having students from both schools participating in the rivalry week activities outweighed Duke's concerns about moving the game from its traditional date.

Since 1983, there has been just one season when Duke and North Carolina finished with a winning record. With that in mind, North Carolina sports information director Steve Kirschner said, his school's administrators have long thought the rivalry with Duke would generate more fan interest earlier in the season.

Kirschner said North Carolina fans are excited about playing the Wolfpack last. Davis didn’t seem troubled with the date of either of North Carolina’s rivalry games.

“It wouldn't matter if we played both of them back-to-back weeks one and two, they're going to be huge, monumental games with their fans and our fans,” Davis said. “So, whether you end the season with them or play them in the middle of the season, it really doesn't matter."

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Come on over to Raleigh and get that arse whupped again. You already "chickened" out against the roosters...


UNC>NCSU said...

"Chickened out"? Are you serious? HAHAHAHA The national media wants the Heels in the big game. NCSU was not asked. UNC was. You got your little Thursday game, we got the big matchup. When you little puppies realize you are an afterthought you will be better off. Deal with it! State does the impossible, they both suck and blow at the same time.

Tarheel Paul said...

It is difficult to talk trash when you have not had a winning record in recent history.