Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: 'Statement Saturday' hinges on Florida State

The ACC can make a statement today

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by the "Thrilla in Manila": What a win that was for Larry Holmes!

Q: Huh? Don't you mean Muhammad Ali?

A: Yeah, him too.

Q: Ali beat Joe Frazier in that fight. Everybody knows that. What does Larry Holmes have to do with anything?

A: He won that day, too. Holmes was on the undercard. Beat a guy named Rodney Bobick.

Q: Who cares?

A: Exactly. Holmes would go on to become a heavyweight champion several years later, but his win that day barely made a ripple. Nice win for him; little consequence to anybody outside his family.

Q: Umm, champ? You're starting to annoy me. Boxing hasn't been relevant in decades. Today's a huge college football day. Could you get to the point, please?

A: Holmes is Miami. Holmes is Maryland. Holmes is Clemson. Those schools are the undercard combatants on today's list of important nonconference games, and that is all they are. Individually, those programs can use today as a launching point to bigger things, but they can't make much of a national statement about the ACC.

Q: Wait. This week, your paper said today would be "Statement Saturday" for the ACC. Four nonconference games against ranked opponents, the results of which will deliver one giant statement on the quality/lack thereof of the league. Now it's not?

A: Nope. Not unless No. 5 Florida State puts in a credible performance against No. 1 Oklahoma in Tallahassee. That's the one everybody's watching. And if the Sooners win big, nobody will care if the other ACC teams prevail. Critics will just point to the fact that the league is now 0 for its last 32 against top-5 nonconference opponents. As well they should.

Q: And if the Seminoles win?

A: Then the other games matter. And if the league can get two more of those, the day becomes something the ACC can celebrate collectively. But it all hinges on FSU.

Q: Is Arkansas State a dangerous crowd?

A: Apparently. Frank Beamer isn't the only coach who thinks so, either. Just ask former Memphis defensive coordinator Jay Hopson, who resigned this week after the Red Wolves blasted his Tigers 47-3 last weekend.

Q: Is Bud Foster's job in peril today?

A: Good one. Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas State 7.

Q: What channel is the UVa-North Carolina game on today?

A: That would be ESPNU. The Cavs are stepping up in the world. First, then the Big Ten Network. At least ESPNU is a channel that a lot of cable operators carry.

Q: Oh, come on. These days, people can watch just about any game, can't they?

A: Not everybody. Got a call on Friday from a UVa fan in Blacksburg (that's tough enough as it is) who says he hasn't been able to watch a single game this year because his Internet isn't fast enough to accommodate, he doesn't have a satellite to get the Big Ten Network and his cable company doesn't carry ESPNU. He's trying to raise his son to be a UVa fan, and the boy's yet to see a game on TV this season. And get this: He said he tried to watch a scheduled replay of the Indiana game the other night and they were showing English Premier League soccer instead.

Q: Oh, boo Hoo. Why does everybody complain so much?

A: I actually think he makes a great point. Technological advancements are fantastic in many ways, but there's something to be said for having your games on regular TV. I can sympathize.

Q: Best reader comment on the blog this week?

A: Let's go with Ralph, regarding Jeff Gordon's assertion that Paul Menard's spin at Richmond was "a little fishy." "So Gordon thinks it's a little fishy that Menard spun out, allowing [Kevin]Harvick to haul butt past a floundering Gordon, and, 16 laps later, perch in the winner's circle. That does sound a little fishy."

Q: Ralph hooked you from the start on that one, didn't he?

A: Indeed. He added: "Sorry. Slow day at work."

Q: What will the ACC's final catch look like on Statement Saturday?

A: 3-1 - 3-0 on the undercard, 0-1 in the biggie.

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