School rivalries are a huge part of what makes college football great. In a sport that places so much emphasis on tradition and pride, it’s not surprising that hatred for a rival becomes a central talking point throughout the season.
There are tons of classic rivalries that are still going strong today, such as the Iron Bowl, Army-Navy, the Red River Rivalry, and Bedlam, just to name a few. The one conference that seems to be lacking rivalries, however, is the ACC.
ACC football has never been known for its antagonisms, rather it has been known for dominant periods during which one school wins all the time and everyone else is racing for second place. Arguably the biggest rivalry in ACC history was FSU-Miami during the 80s and 90s, and things have certainly changed for both program since.
This season, the ACC should look to try and bring about greater rivalry traditions that seem to have quieted down, such as FSU-Miami, and try to reinvigorate both sides. Some ACC teams have had brief conflicts with other non-conference opponents, but bringing a sense of hatred back within the conference will do a lot of good in terms of national media attention for the conference.
There have been some shots taken on social media, although probably not in the rivalry that fans were expecting, as Virginia Tech punter Oscar Bradburn called out UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins on Twitter. Bradburn commented on a picture of UVA’s annual ‘breaking the rock’ ceremony with a swipe at Perkins writing, “Tell Perkins not to fumble the hammer”, harkening back to last year’s game in which Perkins fumbled the ball on a potential game winning drive, leading to a 34-31 victory for the Hokies.
Granted UVA-Virginia Tech is not the greatest football rivalry in the country, but this type of trolling is good for the conference’s media following. It brings attention to the matchup, which will take place on November 29 in Charlottesville, and also invigorates both fanbases and both sets of players, ensuring that the atmosphere will be more raucous than in previous years.
If other big-time ACC matchups, such as FSU-Miami or Duke-UNC could take on this type of unfriendly ambience, then the games could be marketed better beforehand as a true rivalry, instead of two teams playing who are merely close geographically.
All in all, college football has been built largely on hatred for one’s biggest rival, and the ACC needs to remind themselves that teams actively disliking each other is good for their product. It will take more than a trolling punter to raise some of the ACC’s rivalries to the levels of those in other conferences, but it is a good start that merits watching as the season approaches.