The News & Observer’s roundtable has history on its mind this weekend. Frank Beamer is coaching his final home game at Virginia Tech. North Carolina is going for some history.
Lots to discuss. You have questions and columnist Luke DeCock and The N&O’s team of college reporters have answers:
Q: Frank Beamer coaches his final home game on Saturday at Virginia Tech. Will we see another ACC coach stay at one school for 29 years, like he did, or is that kind of longevity gone forever?
Andrew Carter (North Carolina beat reporter): Not only is it gone forever, but if Frank Beamer came along today and started his tenure the same way he wouldn’t have had a chance to become successful. Virginia Tech had a losing record in four of Beamer’s first six seasons. He was 2-8-1 in his sixth season.
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There’s little chance an administration would be as patient today, in this era of 24/7 criticism and scrutiny. Beamer’s retirement is truly the end of an era.
Joe Giglio (N.C. State beat reporter): Nah, Beamer will be the last of his kind. The world keeps on changing but not always for the better.
Laura Keeley (Duke beat reporter): It would have to be a similar situation, a coach taking over a downtrodden program and then irrationally choosing to stay over taking “better” jobs. Bonus points if said rebuild happens at your alma mater, as it did for Beamer. But yes, I could see something like that happening at Syracuse or Boston College if the right set of circumstances came together.
Luke DeCock: We may not see a coach stay at any school for 29 years in any sport in any “Power 5” conference. There’s too much money on the line now. Those days are over in college football, like leather helmets and two-way players. Beamer and Paterno and Bowden were the last of their kind.
Q: Provided UNC clinches the Coastal Division this weekend or next, how much of a shot do you give the Tar Heels against Clemson in the ACC championship game?
AC: A good shot. That is, if the Tar Heels in the ACC title game play like the Tar Heels have the past two weeks. UNC’s offense has looked unstoppable lately.
The real question: how does the defense fare against Deshaun Watson. UNC hasn’t seen a quarterback this season anywhere close as good as Watson.
JG: The way the Tar Heels have been able to score points, a good shot. The set up of going back to Charlotte, the site of their only loss, is also in their favor. I like the redemption angle there.
The problem is Clemson’s defensive front is very good and that has been a problem for UNC. Confidence-wise, UNC should be ready and willing to pull off the upset, though.
LK: I think the Tar Heels would be competitive, more so than Duke was able to be against a much better Florida State team in 2013. But ultimately, I don’t think what UNC has done against an incredibly weak schedule is a good measurement to assume anything against Clemson. I personally think the step(s) up in class that the Tigers will bring on both sides of the ball will be too much, and the ACC will breathe a deep sigh of relief as the Tigers polish off their undefeated season to that point and advance to the playoff.
LD: I think the Tar Heels are good. Really good. But I think Clemson is on a different level right now. North Carolina hasn’t seen a team like Clemson all season – nothing even close. It’s tough to make that adjustment overnight.
Q: With two games left in the regular season what has been the biggest surprise in the ACC this season?
AC: If you’d have told me after the first weekend of the season that UNC would be riding a nine-game winning streak, on the brink of a Coastal Division championship and in the College Football Playoff discussion, well … I’d have had a difficult time believing it.
JG: UNC’s 6-0 ACC record has to be. The Tar Heels limped to a 6-7 finish last year and were smoked by N.C. State and Rutgers to close out the season. Throw in the opening loss to South Carolina, and there aren’t many sane people who could have seen UNC rip off nine straight.
LK: Probably the fact that nearly half of the teams in the Coastal Division are going to have new coaches next year (yes, I’m assuming Virginia will come open). We knew Beamer was slipping at Virginia Tech, but it’s still a little hard to believe that that era is just about done. Seeing those three schools (and Maryland and South Carolina) jockey for coaching candidates will be fascinating.
Also, I never predicted UNC would put it together like this, especially after watching the first quarter of that South Carolina game while getting ready for Duke’s kickoff in New Orleans. Guess it really was time for the Tar Heels.
LD: As surprisingly good as UNC has been, no one saw the precipitous collapse of Georgia Tech coming. It’s not easy to put together an 18-year bowl streak. It’s even harder to see it end with a team picked to win its division in the preseason.