Published: 12:00 AM, Fri May 11, 2012
Vaughan: ACC football embraces 2nd-tier status with Friday night games
If you had any doubts that the football being played in the Atlantic Coast Conference was second class, they were affirmed this week by ESPN when it was announced the network had struck a deal to air ACC football that will include Friday night telecasts.
The ACC, of course, will paint a happy face on this as a chance for its teams to be in the national spotlight with a game on Friday night.
What they won't tell you, and what they would hope you'd just plain ignore, is this is an official notice that the quality of football in the ACC is B List. Maybe even C.
Let's take, for example, the Southeastern Conference, which is now without question the premier college football league in the nation. Does ESPN plug any SEC games in on Friday nights? Absolutely not. This is quality football that everybody in the country wants to see.
And guess what? If you play on Friday night, everybody doesn't get a chance to see you.
Have I mentioned why? No, because it's pretty obvious. Since before I was born, which was more than a few years ago, Friday nights have been the principal domain of high school football across this nation.
The NCAA decided it didn't have enough nights to play the college game a few years ago, so they started squeezing in a Friday game here or there.
At first, I was worried, but then I started checking the schedule of games they were playing on these nights.
Here's a couple of classic Friday matchups from last season: Florida International at Louisville, Iowa State at Connecticut, Rutgers at Louisville, South Florida at Syracuse.
Oh, every now and then, there'll be a winner in there, like the rivalry game between Pitt and West Virginia, but by and large they were all second-class games, at best.
And now the ACC has been added to this less than auspicious list of conferences that will be getting the so-called spotlight on Friday nights.
You know, ESPN is a Walt Disney property, and I really think to be fair about things, they should rename this package of Friday games. It should be called Mickey Mouse College Football.
They should hand out mouse ears to the cheerleading squads of both schools, and let the announcers do their pre-game routine wearing the same mouse ear regalia.
Still, there is concern on the part of the N.C. High School Athletic Association about the Friday games. Davis Whitfield, the NCHSAA commissioner, has been talking with ACC Commissioner John Swofford about the telecasts, and for now, Whitfield says he thinks the telecasts will have a minimal impact on North Carolina high school football.
"I think it would be safe to say there would be a point where we have some impact (on Friday high school games), but I hope those instances happen few and far between,'' he said.
I couldn't agree more.
Let's put it this way: If it's a choice on Friday between Syracuse-Boston College and South View-Jack Britt, I know where my interest will lie. And I won't be wearing Mickey Mouse ears in the press box.
Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3519.