Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rooting For Conference Rivals a Bad Thing?

With the firing of Tommy Bowden at Clemson, I've come to realize that I in some ways want Clemson to do well. Not against Maryland obviously, but Clemson doing well helps the conference.

So with this, I come by an SI article by Phil Guidry called "Mythbusters: Where do loyalties lie?" Basically he says that the new status quo of rooting for conference rivals to "improve credibility on the national scene" isn't a good thing. He sums up his point at the end of the article: "There's no reason to sacrifice your integrity and dignity in the name of wishing your team into a better bowl game."

First off, he first says this discussion reigns around the four BCS conferences not named ACC and Big East. Which is kinda funny, the ACC in the 80s and 90s with powerhouses Clemson and Florida State were very dominant and the Big East in the last few years has pulled some surprises. I seem to recall a certain West Virginia team beating Georgia and Oklahoma in recent BCS Bowl games. So thanks for already knocking out two conferences from this discussion. If you don't mind, I'll put the ACC back in play, and I'd put the Big East back too. It isn't like the Big Ten or Pac-10 has impressed anyone lately.

Anyway, what is the problem with rooting for others teams to do well? Obviously in a Clemson-Miami matchup, I'd root for Miami since Clemson is in Maryland's division and Miami isn't, but in a Clemson-Alabama matchup, absolutely I'd root for Clemson. Wins like that are very good for the conference and it's a nice victory to think about when Maryland faces the Tigers. The fact is in the BCS world, games like these matter. It never helps when a team like Clemson loses against Alabama, or when Virginia Tech loses against East Carolina. When Maryland plays ACC squads, I root for the Terps with all my heart, but I want those ACC squads to win their non-conference games so more teams have a decent reputation. Maybe I won't actively root for them, but I know that losses like those aren't good for anyone in the conference. All they do are make wins less meaningful and losses worse.

And for some reason, Guidry thinks cheering for the conference is "lame." Why? What is wrong with pride in your conference? When teams in the conference do badly, it affects us. After the first weekend of ACC college football, after Clemson got destroyed on national television, Virginia Tech beaten by East Carolina, Maryland barely beating Delaware, the ACC was mocked across the nation, and we all felt it. Then two weekends later, the Pac-10 got dealt some hits with Cal losing to Maryland and Oregon barely getting by Purdue, and the ACC looked better again. When something like the ACC-Big Ten Challenge happens in college basketball, and the ACC comes out on top, you bet we are proud of the conference, because it is a competition between the conferences, and we all want to be the best and prove why others aren't. I support the ACC through good times and bad, and others support their conference too. All the talk about the SEC proving their better than the Big Ten, the ACC trying to take on the Pac-10, there is conference pride on the line.

And no, I'm not going to buy any Miami or Boston College apparel, and when Maryland faces a rival team like Virginia or West Virginia I don't care what their record is, I just want the Terps to win big. But it always helps when they are a good team. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. There is absolutely no shame in rooting for your conference.

And of course, go ACC.

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