The season starts Monday. For people who only focus on college hoops like me, it feels somewhat like Christmas morning – you’ve seemingly waited forever and you finally get to open all your presents.
And, also like some Christmas mornings, the results aren’t always what you hoped.
There are only three games Monday and the likelihood that any of them are fantastic is slim. But hey, you’ve got your presents, right? Just say thank you and enjoy what you have.
But for the myriad college reporters who focus on basketball and football, it’s a never-ending work double-dip. Take Jim Young at ACC Sports Journal. He’s been focused on football since early August, but his conference and location (North Carolina) forces him to care about basketball right when Midnight Madness begins. That’s hardly easy and makes him a busy man.
On that note, I offer an abbreviated Blogger Spotlight, mostly to hold you over to when the games begin Monday and as a reminder that college football is still in full swing. Enjoy.
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Q: Basketball season started a few Fridays ago when practices opened. If you’re in ACC country, does hoops immediately take precedence over football despite it being the middle of the season?
A: Depends on your definition of “ACC country.” In the geographic heart of the ACC, i.e. North Carolina, basketball immediately vaults over football in terms of fan interest. Of course, when one of the teams (UNC) is the national title favorite, another is a power in hoops and not so much in football (Duke) and another has a new coach and new hope (N.C. State), you can understand why. Normally Wake Forest fans would feel the same way, but their football is a pleasant surprise and basketball, well … did I mention their football team is a pleasant surprise?
I never really noticed how jarring and sudden the transition from pigskin to round ball was until I began covering the ACC as a whole back in 2008. Previously, I’d covered the three Triangle schools for the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record.
Now that I pay much closer attention to the Florida States and Clemsons of the world, it’s increasingly tougher for me to get fired up for the start of basketball practice when the football season is just entering the stretch run.
But like I said, along Tobacco Road, they don’t seem to have such difficulties.
Q: Dealing with basketball and football at the same time must be preferable to dealing with any kind of conference expansion rumors, right?
A: Okay, you’re right. I shouldn’t be complaining. Fretting about how the divisions would look in a 14-team football league or whining about having to cover five-day 14-team conference tournaments is WAY preferable to, say, wondering what Boise State will do, or trying to figure out what sort of mood the Missouri curators are in today.
Q: What’s been the initial reaction to adding Syracuse and Pitt? They won’t make the move for a couple of years, but it’s already creating a stir. Or is that just a national feeling?
A: I think the general feeling in the ACC is one of relief. While there are some out there – say, BC fans – who were more than happy to see the ACC stick it to the Big East, most are just happy to know that the move pretty much ensures the league’s long-term viability and that it decreases the chances that one of the ACC’s southern schools might be poached away by the SEC.
The bigger stir has actually occurred among ACC basketball fans. They’ve been grinding their teeth in frustration in recent years while listening to national pundits talk about how the Big East has surpassed the ACC as the kind of college hoops. So they’re thrilled to add two established powers in Syracuse and Pitt – though they’re not too thrilled by Jim Boeheim’s comments about Greensboro.
But in a way, even that has a positive spin. Adding a new black hat to the conference – and a quotable one at that – only adds more interest in ACC hoops.
More of Jim’s writing can be found at www.accsports.com where he keeps a blog (among other duties). He’s also on Twitter @ACCSports.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.