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A Newcomer's Guide to the ACC
by Jim Alderson, 6/10/04

The clock is ticking down to the grand entrance of Virginia Tech into the ACC. With the exception of our old friends in Hooville and those from our former conference joining us in our migration, we will have a bunch of new rivals. Gone will be shaking our head at the arrogance of Syracuse, the gnashing our teeth late in games against Pitt and pointing our fingers and laughing at the latest Rutgers misadventure. We will have new teams, coaches and schools to come to love and at which to poke fun.

Before we begin our first season of ACC play in a few months, many of us will need to get up to speed on some of the nuances of our new conference mates. Having followed ACC basketball for many decades, I feel as qualified as anyone to provide this service. I present the Tech Fans Guide to the ACC:


The Tigers have a proud football tradition that includes multiple conference championships and probations. They also are the only other land-grant school located in a small college town in the new ACC.

Football atmosphere: The best in the ACC - at least until we get there.

Basketball atmosphere: Rumor has it that Clemson fields a team.

Reason to visit: In one end of Tiger Stadium Howard’s Rock sits atop a bank. Watching Clemson take the field by rubbing the Rock and running down the hill onto the field is one of the great moments in sports. Also, the Esso Club downtown is one of the all-time great college-town bars.

Factoid: IPTAY, the Clemson equivalent of the Hokie Club, actually stands for ‘I Pay Twenty A Year,’ not, ‘It’s Probation Time Again, Y’all.’

Often heard at games: "The problem with the ACC Tournament is that it is held during Spring Practice."

"So what if Danny Ford got us on probation? He won, didn’t he?"

"Care for a drink?"


Duke was founded by tobacco magnate Buck Duke, who thought that having a first-rate medical school was a pretty good idea and a way to touch all bases. While it is not known what Buck thought of the game, Duke has also become known as Basketball U. This is a place that hasn’t quite caught on to the ‘Football Rules’ mentality.

Football atmosphere: Since Duke built the Yoh Football Center you can no longer see Cameron from Wallace Wade Stadium.

Basketball atmosphere: The best there is. Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the true basketball shrines.

Reason to visit: Before a basketball game you can meet Dick Vitale in Krzyzewskiville. Also, the DUMC is not a bad place to be if you have health problems.

Factoid: Duke graduate students sit in the Cameron end zone nearest the Duke bench. Just think, one of those crazies may one day remove your prostate.

Often heard at games: " I still don’t see why the ACC makes us field a football team."

"I don’t care if it is emergency surgery. I’m at the ACC Tournament."

"I once saw my house on The Sopranos."

Florida State

The ‘Noles were brought into the ACC in 1992 to improve conference football. That the conference is trying again tells you how that worked out.

Football atmosphere: The constant Tomahawk Chop can become irksome, as can always losing to FSU.

Basketball atmosphere: When FSU became the 9th ACC team it really screwed up the Tournament.

Reason to visit: None.

Factoid: There are FSU fans who set up terrific tailgating spreads in the RV lot at Alltel Stadium and will welcome moochers from the opposing team.

Often heard at games: "Bobby better beat Miami this year."

"The whole idea of a basketball tournament is pretty silly if you ask me."

"It’s not like he shot the President."

Georgia Tech

The ACC’s first Tech. They have a pretty good engineering school, and in the Hive a really funny message board.

Football atmosphere: The recent expansion of Bobby Dodd Stadium looks a lot like Lane Stadium's SEZ.

Basketball atmosphere: Alexander Coliseum would be just as obsolete as Cassell were it not for the new basketball support building that is going up.

Reason to visit: Two words: Underground Atlanta.

Factoid: Multi-Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine has a pretty good track record when it comes to hiring basketball coaches. Bill Foster won at our Tech and Paul Hewitt seems to be working out fairly well at this one.

Often heard at games: "We’re the real Tech in this conference."

"During expansion there sure were a lot of VPI people around here in positions of authority."

"Who hasn’t lied on their resume?"


Maryland has the ACC’s version of the WVU fans. They are slightly more civilized than their mountain neighbors in that in Maryland they do not place their sofas on the front porch.

Football atmosphere: Byrd Stadium remains the fall-back option for those who cannot procure Redskins tickets.

Basketball atmosphere: The Comcast Center is to Cameron Indoor Stadium as Ozzy Osbourne is to Mick Jaggar. Gary Williams’ constant paranoid whining about how the NC Mafia that runs the ACC is out to get him has helped fuel an atmosphere that is less about cheering for the Terps and more about shouting curses and throwing things at visiting players and fans. Favorite targets are the mothers of opposing players.

Reason to visit: The sights in Washington.

Factoid: The Maryland administration called a student meeting to address threats from ESPN to no longer televise games from the Comcast Center unless the Terps fans cleaned up their act. When former Maryland basketball player and current ESPN basketball analyst Len Elmore came to the podium he was greeted with profanity shouted by students.

Often heard at games: "One good thing about expansion is that the four North Carolina schools no longer outnumber the other five."

"There’s a battery sale at Wal-mart."

"@#$% Coach K."

North Carolina

Diversity U. The UNC Admissions Office rigidly adheres to a strict quota system that allows proportional representation among the Carolina student body of every single social grouping except for quality football players.

Football atmosphere: Exactly what you would expect from a place that has no tailgating. Carolina football fan traditions include leaving in mass at the end of the first half or when the Heels fall behind by twenty, whichever comes first.

Basketball atmosphere: The Dean Dome is the largest basketball arena in the ACC and also the quietest. Cheering is frowned on because it might awaken the long-time season ticket holders in the lower bowl.

Reason to visit: The bars on Franklin Street.

Factoid: The Tar Heel Sports Radio Network once skipped a bowl game due to its conflict with a basketball game against Howard. This problem was rectified by hiring as football coaches first Carl Torbush, then John Bunting.

Often heard at games: "This is all Matt’s fault."

"I still don’t understand why Beamer wouldn’t come to the best university in the country."

"Tailgating? How gauche. Pass the brie."

NC State

A land-grant school sharing their state with an annoying ‘U of.’ Sound familiar? Tech fans will get along well with the State ones because they are exactly like us.

Football atmosphere: State used to have one of the great football tailgate parking lots adjacent to Carter-Finley Stadium, then they erected the RBC Center. Leave it to an ACC school to take a perfectly good football parking lot and build a basketball arena.

Basketball atmosphere: While the RBC Center generates more noise than the moribund Dean Dome, the dull Princeton-style offense run by Herb Sendek does not lend itself to great fan enthusiasm.

Reason to visit: College campuses are generally scenic places. State is the exception to that rule. Hillsborough Street captures its essence.

Factoid: NC State is the only school in the ACC and perhaps anywhere else with a functioning rail line running through the middle of campus.

Often heard at games: "I hate Carolina."

"Amato is a huge winner compared to Mike O’Cain."

"Yeah, I know he got us on probation and all, but I really miss Valvano."

Wake Forest

Wake was founded by tobacco baron R. J. Reynolds as part of his rivalry with Buck Duke. The two schools put the ‘Tobacco’ in Tobacco Road. Wake Forest is also the smallest school in a BCS conference and was long affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church.

Football atmosphere: Groves Stadium is a miniature replica of Lane Stadium, minus the towering East stands, the SEZ and the cheering fans.

Basketball atmosphere: Wake’s small student body and alumni base makes the Joel Center the easiest place in the ACC to score basketball tickets.

Reason to visit: Lots of parking at the athletic complex that is rarely used since Wake has few fans.

Factoid: Prior to the tobacco settlement, the R. J. Reynolds Corporation contributed heavily to Wake athletics. Wake was the last ACC school to ban cigarette smoking and sales in its venues, and its old basketball arena was notable for the giant ‘Winston’ sign, often obscured by the clouds of smoke that hung over the court.

Often heard at games: "We can’t play a Saturday night game. I have to wash my hair for church."

"I-AA my butt!"

"If Duke can do it so can we."

Well, there you have it. This is what you need to know to become full-fledged ACC fans. Study it closely and by the time September rolls around you will be able to converse and trade insults with even veteran ACC fans. There won’t be many around during our first game, as football remains a curiosity at Duke, but there should be plenty by the second. Let’s make them feel right at home.


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