FanPost

ACC Football: An Owner's Manual

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

As the 2013 football season draws near, a great deal has already been said about the lack of a marquee opponent on Louisville’s football schedule. This tiresome conversation will likely continue all season and will be brought up by every announcer that works our games ad nauseam. The more we win, the more they will talk about it until it becomes the elephant in the room that no one can ignore. That’s the conversation as long as we keep winning. If we stumble at all, the conversation is over. Since there isn’t anything we can do as a fan base or as a university to change this, let’s enjoy the attention and understand it for what it is. After all, change is on the way. It’s called the Atlantic Coast Conference and it’s our invitation to big time college football.

With everything we have to look forward to this fall I don’t want anyone to view this post as a slight to our upcoming season. I’ve never been this enthusiastic about the start of football and I am already well into my preparations for this season’s first tailgate. I’m excited, and this post is a product of that excitement, but it’s not just an effort to fill some idle time between now and a certain 3:30 kickoff on September 1st. It’s a glimpse at our future conference and their traditions; a chance to look at our ACC conference foes in a way that we might not be able to in the near future. Knowing these great traditions and seeing the enthusiasm that these schools have for their football teams could provide us with a platform for our own development as a fan base. This type of enthusiasm is what will carry our program forward, and we need it now more than we have ever needed it. Let’s show them what we’ve got.

The Atlantic Coast Conference

The ACC is a considerable step up in competition from the American Athletic Conference. While most Louisville fans expect to win at least 10 or more games this season, winning in the ACC won’t be so easy. The conference, which formed in 1953, has a rich football tradition, and its member schools combine for 32 national championships. When Louisville joins the conference for the 2014 season it will consist of 15 member universities with Notre Dame acting as the only non-football member. For football scheduling purposes the remaining 14 schools will be split into two divisions, the Atlantic Division and the Coastal Division. Louisville will be in the Atlantic Division and will play each team in that division once. The Cardinals are also scheduled to play two Coastal Division teams each year. Virginia will be Louisville's primary crossover opponent so the Cardinals will play them every year with an additional rotating opponent. The table below lists the schools in each division and their attendance numbers as compared to their stadium capacities for 2012. Notre Dame is not listed but sold out every game for their entire season.

Table 1: Attendance Numbers

Stadium Capacity / 2012 Attendance / 2012 Attendance %

Atlantic Division

Coastal Division

Boston College (44,500 / 37,020 / 83.2%)

Miami (80,120 / 47,719 / 59.6%)

Clemson (81,500 / 81,427 / 99.9%)

Virginia (61,500 / 46,650 / 75.9%)

Florida State (82,300 / 75,601 / 91.9%)

Duke (33,941 / 28,170 / 83.0%)

Louisville (55,000 / 49,991 / 90.9%)

Georgia Tech (55,000 / 43,955 / 79.9%)

North Carolina State (60,000 / 54,106 / 90.2%)

North Carolina (62,980 / 50,286 / 79.8%)

Syracuse (49,262 / 37,953 / 77.0%)

Pittsburgh (65,050 / 41,494 / 63.8%)

Wake Forest (31,500 / 28,912 / 91.8%)

Virginia Tech (66,233 / 65,632 / 99.1%)

Averages: 57,723 / 52,144 / 90.3%

Averages: 60,689 / 46,272 / 76.2%

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Louisville will play each team in the Atlantic Division one time. For the 2012 season the average attendance for teams in the Atlantic Division was 90.3%. More information about each Atlantic Division school is given below.

Boston College

Boston College has a proud football tradition and a new head coach, so never mind that they finished 2-10 last season. Their history includes matchups against some of the biggest names in college football including a longstanding rivalry with Notre Dame known as the Holy War. Their students call themselves Superfans and go to every game wearing gold Superfan shirts. Like Louisville, they are former members of the Big East who have found their way to the ACC. They also know what it’s like to go undefeated and not get recognized for a national championship. Hopefully, undefeated is where our similarities end. Boston is a great town and an incredible travel opportunity for Cards fans.

Alumni Stadium

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School Nickname: Eagles

School Colors: Maroon and gold

Stadium Capacity: 44,500

2012 Average Attendance: 37,020

Stadium Surface: FieldTurf

Stadium Opened: 1957

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Championships: Maybe 1940. Minnesota would disagree.

Notable Traditions: The players walk through campus to the stadium in what is known as the Eagle Walk.

When We Visit: 2014

Series Record: 3-3

If you aren’t already tired of seeing this, you will be.

Clemson

As one of the ACC’s founding members, Clemson understands its role in college football. They have won 14 conference titles, recorded five undefeated seasons and were crowned national champions in 1981. Their fans get it, too. Last season Clemson had the highest average attendance in the conference. That number: 81,427. Whatever it is we hope to accomplish in the ACC, we’ll have to go through Clemson to do it. This is big time college football in a big time college football environment. Put Death Valley on your Bucket List.

Memorial Stadium

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School Nickname: Tigers

School Colors: Clemson Orange and Regalia

Stadium Capacity: 81,500

2012 Average Attendance: 81,427

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1942

Location: Clemson, South Carolina

Championships: 1981

Notable Traditions: The players touch Howard’s Rock and run down the hill into the stadium.

When We Visit: 2014

Series Record: N/A

If you make this trip you will want to be in your seats in time to see the Clemson team take the field. This is one of the most notable game day traditions in all of college football.

Florida State

Like the University of Louisville, Florida State was once a member of the Metro Conference and played football during their time in the Metro as an independent. After leaving the conference in 1991, Florida State joined the ACC, where they have since won 13 conference championships including nine in a row from 1992 to 2000. This is a big time program, and Louisville’s 2002 victory over the then 4th ranked Seminoles is still one of our programs most notable wins. While the last laugh for the moment is ours, the series is decidedly lopsided. Florida State leads it 12-2.

Doak Campbell Stadium

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School Nickname: Seminoles

School Colors: Garnet and Gold

Stadium Capacity: 82,300

2012 Average Attendance: 75,601

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1950

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Championships: 1993, 1999

Notable Traditions: Osceola and Renegade ride out and plant a flaming spear into the field and the Seminole War Chant will remind everyone in attendance where they are.

When We Visit: 2015

Series Record: 2-12

Don’t miss one of the most recognized traditions of all time.

You should also expect to hear this a lot. After all, they invented it.

Louisville

The future is bright for the Louisville Cardinals. There are several different ways the Cards can enter the ACC, and that story line is about to start writing itself in less than a week. Be a part of it.

Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium

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School Nickname: Cardinals

School Colors: Red and Black

Stadium Capacity: 55,000

2012 Average Attendance: 49,991

Stadium Surface: FieldTurf

Stadium Opened: 1996

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: The players walk from the bus to the stadium before every game in what is known as the "Card March". After the game the players do a lap around the stadium to thank the fans.

The Card March needs to grow this year.

North Carolina State

NC State has gone 69-83 in the ACC since 1993, but all you have to do is look back to the beating Teddy Bridgewater took in the 2011 Belk Bowl to know that they are no slouch. Carter-Finley Stadium opened its doors in 1966 and has undergone continuous expansion. Their fans are loud and they show up. Our recent history with them could act to turn this into a really good rivalry.

Carter-Finley Stadium

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School Nickname: Wolfpack

School Colors: Red and White

Stadium Capacity: 60,000

2012 Average Attendance: 54,106

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1966

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: N/A

When We Visit: 2015

Series Record: 3-1

Syracuse

Syracuse is looking to benefit from their ACC membership in the same way Louisville is looking to benefit from theirs, and since the Orange are entering the conference a year ahead of the Cardinals they might just be the unsuspecting authors of a blueprint that Coach Strong can use to navigate the pitfalls. Being able to continue playing Syracuse with only one year away from the series adds a much needed familiarity for fans in a conference filled with so many new faces. The loss to Syracuse this past season could have kept our team from winning a share of the Big East and later playing in the Sugar Bowl. With the level of competition in the ACC, the Cardinals cannot drop games to teams they are favored to beat and expect to play for a conference championship. Neither can the Orange.

Carrier Dome

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School Nickname: Orange

School Colors: Orange, White and Blue

Stadium Capacity: 49,262

2012 Average Attendance: 37,953

Stadium Surface: FieldTurf

Stadium Opened: 1980

Location: Syracuse, New York

Championships: 1959

Notable Traditions: N/A

When We Visit: 2014

Series Record: 6-6

Wake Forest

Wake Forest is a small school with a passionate fan base. Groves Stadium is one of the smaller facilities in the ACC, but don’t let its size fool you, the atmosphere there is sensational. Students pack the grass hill in the end zone and root for their team as loudly as any fan base in the conference. It’s unlikely we will be welcomed with open arms as I’m sure they haven’t forgotten the Orange Bowl loss they suffered to us at the end of the 2006 season. What we shouldn’t forget is that we had to come back in the fourth quarter to win.

BB&T Field at Groves Stadium

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School Nickname: Demon Deacons

School Colors: Old Gold and Black

Stadium Capacity: 31,500

2012 Average Attendance: 28,912

Stadium Surface: FieldTurf

Stadium Opened: 1968

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: The Demon Deacon leads the players out on a motorcycle.

When We Visit: 2015

Series Record: 1-0

This isn’t bad.

COASTAL DIVISION

Louisville will only play two Coastal Division teams during the regular season. They will play Virginia every season and each of the other Coastal Division teams on a rotating schedule. If Louisville wins the Atlantic Division they will play the winner of the Coastal Division for the conference championship. For the 2012 season the average attendance for teams in the Coastal Division was 76.2%. Additional information for the Coastal Division teams is listed below.

Miami

Miami has won five national championships and is one of the most recognizable programs in college football. Like Florida State we were able to beat them the last time we faced off, but they own the series lead by a large margin. We were a dropped interception away from a huge win at Miami Orange Bowl stadium in 2004, but that’s as close as we have ever come to beating Miami on their home turf. That was our only loss that season. Recently Miami has been under investigation for the violation of several major NCAA bylaws. Due to the ongoing investigation, Miami made the decision to withdraw from postseason play, including the possibility of a slot in the ACC Championship Game. When that will change is anyone’s guess.

Sun Life Stadium

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School Nickname: Hurricanes

School Colors: Orange and Green

Stadium Capacity: 80,120

2012 Average Attendance: 47,719

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1987

Location: Miami Gardens, Florida

Championships: 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001

Notable Traditions: N/A

When We Visit: 2019

Series Record: 1-9

Virginia

Over the past three seasons Virginia has gone 4-8, 8-5, and 4-8. Their fans show up for the big games but tend to take the day off when a lesser opponent comes to town. Having only played them twice in our history, it’s difficult to say whether they will show up for us or not. After watching their pregame intro video, I’m not sure that they actually get it.

Scott Stadium

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School Nickname: Cavaliers

School Colors: Navy Blue and Orange

Stadium Capacity: 61,500

2012 Average Attendance: 46,650

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1931

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: They play a cheesy video making fun of your team mascot and then the Cavman leads the team out onto the field on horseback. Well, that’s how it is suppose to happen anyway.

When We Visit: 2014

Series Record: 1-1

I’m not sure what to think about this. I’m definitely not intimidated.

Duke

Duke is not Clemson. Their football field still has a track around it. Looking past that, their program has started to gain some momentum recently. Last season they were able to get wins over Wake Forest, Virginia and North Carolina to earn an appearance in the 2012 Belk Bowl. If the Cameron Crazies could somehow channel their energy into something outside of basketball and morph into the Wallace Wackos, Duke could become more than just a basketball school. Still, it’s highly unlikely that this team will play for its first conference championship since 1989 anytime soon.

Wallace Wade Stadium

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School Nickname: Blue Devils

School Colors: Duke Blue and White

Stadium Capacity: 33,941

2012 Average Attendance: 28,170

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1929

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: N/A

When We Visit: 2021

Series Record: 1-0

Georgia Tech

Having opened in 1913, Grant Field is truly historic. When Georgia Tech fans show up, Bobby Dodd Stadium offers both an excellent game day experience and picturesque skyline views of downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately, their fans don't always show up, and when their numbers are down this is one of the worst college football atmospheres in the ACC. Regardless, it's Atlanta, and we love Atlanta.

Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field

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School Nickname: Yellow Jackets

School Colors: White and Old Gold

Stadium Capacity: 55,000

2012 Average Attendance: 43,955

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1913

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Championships: 1917, 1928, 1952, 1990

Notable Traditions: The team is led out by the Ramblin’ Wreck.

When We Visit: 2023

Series Record: N/A

This is a pretty neat tradition.

North Carolina

Any chance we had at developing a true rivalry with North Carolina has ended. After playing in 2011 and 2012 the series has been relegated to just two games in 12 seasons. After going 7-6 and 8-5 the last two seasons, North Carolina's program appears to be on the rise. When we meet them again in 2017 they might not be looked at as just a basketball school.

Kenan Memorial Stadium

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School Nickname: Tar Heels

School Colors: Carolina Blue, White and Navy

Stadium Capacity: 62,980

2012 Average Attendance: 50,286

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1927

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: Before the game the players walk from the Old Well at the center of campus to the football stadium.

When We Visit: 2017

Series Record: 4-3

This is very similar to the Card March.

And this doesn’t surprise me at all.

Pittsburgh

If Heinz field never really felt like a college atmosphere, well, that’s because it’s not. Pittsburgh has a storied history and can lay claim to nine national championships. Their tradition commands respect even now that our annual series with them is over. See you in 2015, Pitt.

Heinz Field

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School Nickname: Panthers

School Colors: Blue and Gold

Stadium Capacity: 65,050

2012 Average Attendance: 41,494

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 2001

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Championships: 1910, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1929, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1976

Notable Traditions: N/A

When We Visit: 2015

Series Record: 8-8

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has been to a bowl game every year since 1993. That’s 20 straight for anyone who’s counting. This is a big time football program, and I would love to see the Cardinals take the field in Blacksburg. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. If we make it to the ACC championship game, there’s a good chance Virginia Tech will be waiting. Be careful what you wish for.

Lane Stadium

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School Nickname: Hokies

School Colors: Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange

Stadium Capacity: 66,233

2012 Average Attendance: 65,632

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1965

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Championships: None

Notable Traditions: The team comes out to Enter Sandman, slapping the Hokie Stone before exiting the tunnel.

When We Visit: Not Scheduled

Series Record: 2-5

Unfortunately we won’t get to experience the atmosphere at Virginia Tech until after 2024, but this is why you should be in your seat before the players take the field. I want this atmosphere at Louisville.

OTHER CONFERENCE ASSOCIATIONS

As if the stadiums and the fan bases in the ACC aren’t impressive enough, there are two additional noteworthy associations. Notre Dame is contracted to play five games against ACC teams each year as an independent. Louisville will play Notre Dame in South Bend during the 2014 season. However, Notre Dame’s ACC schedule is complete through 2016 and Louisville is not scheduled for a return visit. A second venue, the Bank of America Stadium is scheduled to play host to the ACC championship game in 2013. It has been the site for the conference championship since 2010. Details for both stadiums are listed below.

Notre Dame

Second in fame only to the Roman Coliseum, Notre Dame Stadium is a historic venue. Okay, that may not be entirely accurate, but I can’t think of another college football stadium I would rather visit. If you are not already planning to make this trip next year, you should be. To play in this stadium against this tradition is an opportunity that hasn’t come easy and may never come again. Regardless of what you think about Notre Dame, it’s Notre Dame. Welcome to big time college football.

Notre Dame Stadium

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School Nickname: Fighting Irish

School Colors: Gold and Navy Blue

Stadium Capacity: 80,795

2012 Average Attendance: 80,795

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1930

Location: South Bend, Indiana

Championships: 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988

Notable Traditions: The players attend Mass before every game and then make the walk over to the field. After leaving the locker room they all touch the "Play Like A Champion Today" sign that hangs on the wall. After every game, win or lose, the team goes over to the student section and raise their helmets to salute their classmates and peers.

When We Visit: 2014

Series Record: N/A

Before the game the players walk from the Sacred Heart Basilica to the stadium.

Before coming out on to the field the players touch one of the most recognized signs in sports.

ACC Championship Game

Louisville fans should remember the Bank of America Stadium from the December 2011 Belk Bowl where we were matched up against an in state North Carolina State team whose campus is located only two hours away. That led to a decided home field advantage for the Wolfpack, and in the end they got the better of us. Don’t look for this venue to provide us with a home field advantage any time soon. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Duke are all geographically closer, but at least we’ll get to settle things with NC State in division play.

Bank of America Stadium

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Stadium Capacity: 73,778

Stadium Surface: Grass

Stadium Opened: 1996

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

When We Visit: When we earn it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Before we venture into these new stadiums it is only right that we take the time to learn a little bit about their history and their traditions. I have provided you with an introduction, but I will leave it up to you to learn the subtle nuances and fine details of our future conference rivals. I think most of us are ready for the ACC, but for those of us that talk about national championships yet still get to our seats after kickoff, let this guide be a lesson to you. We still have a full season of college football to prepare for this new challenge, but whether or not we can create an atmosphere at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium comparable to the best stadiums in this list remains to be seen. If we really want to talk about championships we can start by acting like a championship fan base.

This is where we’re heading. This is who we are. The only thing brighter than the future is the present.

SUMMARY TABLE

University

Stadium

Capacity

Stadium Surface

Opened

Years Open

Location

When

Atlantic Division

Boston College

Alumni Stadium

44,500

FieldTurf

1957

56

Boston, Massachusetts

2014

Clemson

Memorial Stadium

81,500

Grass

1942

71

Clemson, South Carolina

2014

Florida State

Doak Campbell Stadium

82,300

Grass

1950

63

Tallahassee, Florida

2015

Louisville

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

55,000

FieldTurf

1996

17

Louisville, Kentucky

Home

North Carolina State

Carter-Finley Stadium

60,000

Grass

1966

47

Raleigh, North Carolina

2015

Syracuse

Carrier Dome

49,262

FieldTurf

1980

33

Syracuse, New York

2014

Wake Forest

BB&T Field at Groves Stadium

31,500

FieldTurf

1968

45

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

2015

Coastal Division

Miami

Sun Life Stadium

80,120

Grass

1987

26

Miami Gardens, Florida

2019

Virginia

Scott Stadium

61,500

Grass

1931

82

Charlottesville, Virginia

2014

Duke

Wallace Wade Stadium

33,941

Grass

1929

84

Durham, North Carolina

2021

Georgia Tech

Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field

55,000

Grass

1913

100

Atlanta, Georgia

2023

North Carolina

Kenan Memorial Stadium

62,980

Grass

1927

86

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

2017

Pittsburgh

Heinz Field

65,050

Grass

2001

12

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2015

Virginia Tech

Lane Stadium

66,233

Grass

1965

48

Blacksburg, Virginia

2024+

Associations

Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium

80,795

Grass

1930

83

Notre Dame, Indiana

2014

ACC Championship Game

Bank of America Stadium

73,778

Grass

1996

17

Charlotte, North Carolina

-

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