We start with the athletic director who doesn’t believe winning means everything.
So why not load up your beleaguered coach and force-feed him three brutal nonconference games?
If Virginia athletic director Craig LIttlepage truly believes — as he has publicly stated — what Cavs coach Mike London is accomplishing in Charlottesville is more than just winning and losing, he clearly doesn’t mind making it that much harder.
No Power 5 team in the country has a tougher nonconference schedule than Virginia, a run that includes a road game against UCLA and home games against Notre Dame and Boise State. That’s a conference favorite (UCLA), a sleeper national title pick (Notre Dame) and the best non-Power 5 team in the nation (Boise State).
Just in case London couldn’t possibly feel worse about his schedule, we give you the opposite end of the spectrum with NC State: the ugliest Power 5 nonconference schedule in the nation. Take a deep breath, Wolfpack, and get ready for Troy, Eastern Kentucky, ODU and South Alabama.
A look at the ACC nonconference schedules:
1. Virginia: at UCLA, Notre Dame, William & Mary, Boise State
2. Georgia Tech: Alcorn State, Tulane, at Notre Dame, Georgia
3. Virginia Tech: Ohio State, Furman, at Purdue, at ECU
4. Pittsburgh: Youngstown State, at Akron, at Iowa, Notre Dame
5. Louisville: Auburn (Atlanta), Houston, Samford, at Kentucky
6. Clemson: Wofford, Appalachian State, Notre Dame, at South Carolina
7. Miami: Bethune-Cookman, at FAU, Nebraska, at Cincinnati
8. Syracuse: Rhode Island, Central Michigan, LSU, at USF
9. North Carolina: South Carolina (Charlotte), North Carolina A&T, Illinois, Delaware
10. Boston College: Maine, Howard, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame
11. Wake Forest: Elon, at Army, Indiana, at Notre Dame
12. Florida State: Texas State, USF, Chattanooga, at Florida
13. Duke: at Tulane, UNC-Central, Northwestern, at Army
14. NC State: Troy, Eastern Kentucky, at ODU, at South Alabama
Games against Power 5 teams: 21 of 56 (38 percent)
Games against Group of 5 teams: 20 of 56 (36 percent)
Games against FCS teams: 15 of 56 (26 percent)
1. Ohio State at Virginia Tech, Sept. 7
2. Virginia at UCLA, Sept. 5
3. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, Sept. 19
4. Nebraska at Miami, Sept. 19
5. LSU at Syracuse, Sept. 26
— After four gimme putts to begin the season, NC State rolls into a six-game stretch where it might be favored only once: Louisville, at Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest, Clemson, at Boston College, at FSU. In other words, that 4-0 start could be 5-4 by mid-November.
—The theory is FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has built an SEC team in the ACC. Apparently, he has figured out SEC nonconference scheduling, too. After years of playing strong non-con games, FSU gets Texas State, USF and Chattanooga at home, and plays at Florida. This will be the second time in three seasons FSU will not have played at least two non-con games against Power 5 or BCS teams.
— Here is Georgia Tech, the trendy pick to win the ACC (and maybe more) after a strong finish last year that included a pummeling of Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. It’s bad enough the Yellow Jackets have non-con games at Notre Dame and vs. Georgia, GT must also play ACC games at Clemson, Miami and Duke (Duke won at Tech last season), and has home games against FSU and Virginia Tech.
— After building Virginia Tech into what it is today, Hokies coach Frank Beamer is staring at a crossroads season that includes a non-con home game against defending national champion Ohio State, and two testy games at Purdue and ECU — all in the month of September. Anything less than a 2-1 record after those three games will get things sideways in Blacksburg.