Monday Thoughts, Tuesday Edition: UNC 2014


There’s something right in the world when Virginia Tech beats North Carolina in football. When the Heels turn the tables, as they did in 2009 in Blacksburg and 2012 in Chapel Hill, it’s a more crushing loss than losing to Miami, Clemson, or even Boston College.

I’d even rather lose to Duke than UNC. At least Coach Cutcliffe is a likable guy, and the Blue Devils have some underrated ballers. And as far as we know, they do things right, as the saying goes.

Carolina? Not so much. Any school that hires Butch Davis and John Blake, thumbs its nose at NCAA rules and mostly gets away with it, makes a mockery of the “student-athlete” with no-show classes and mostly gets away with it, and then just lies through their teeth repeatedly and never owns up to what it has done, is not a school I want to lose to.

Not to go on and on about it, but for example, the loss to UNC in 2012 is what cemented the growing notion that there was something wrong with the Hokies that season. VT was 3-2 going into that game, and we knew something was amiss (Chris and I both picked VT to lose that game by 10+ points), but when the Heels smoked the Hokies 48-34 in a game that wasn’t even that close, the season went south for good.

What I saw Saturday made me feel better about the alignment of this little part of the football universe, the VT-UNC series. The Hokies aren’t world-beaters, but they were firmly in control of this game, and the Heels looked rudderless and lost. The talent that Butch and Blake amassed, which beat the Hokies twice in four years, is gone from Chapel Hill, and the program is declining under Larry Fedora, a handsome man with great abs who has unfortunately (for him and UNC) become the Peter Principle’s latest case study. Fedora was good at Southern Miss; he appears to be killing the UNC program.

It just feels right.

Let’s take a closer look.

The not-so-meaningless statistic

The Hokies held the ball for 41:03 in this game, its second-highest time of possession (TOP) ever under Frank Beamer, behind the 41:26 against Wake Forest in 2010, which the Hokies won 52-21.

Here’s a cool infographic from OXVT showing VT’s highest TOP margins since entering the ACC (click for larger version).


TOP gets a bad rap as a meaningless statistic. I think the phrase “meaningless statistic” is meaningless … so … there. Take that.

Whether TOP is meaningless depends upon what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s central to Georgia Tech’s philosophy under Paul Johnson. It’s very important to Frank Beamer. It’s important to Oregon, in the opposite way. They want to score as fast as possible and wear you out. Frank and Paul want to keep you on the field as long as possible, wear you out, and play keep-away.

On a game by game basis, yes, it can be meaningless. But in this game, it was very important, because Virginia Tech went old-school Beamerball and played keep-away from Fedora’s fancy fast-paced offense.

Have you ever watched the scene from Band of Brothers where Easy Company spends the night in a convent, and Sergeant Carwood Lipton makes a mental accounting of all the