All right, let’s start with something nice: the weather.
Saturday night’s weather for the ACC football championship in Charlotte – which Florida State won, 21-15, over Georgia Tech in Bank of America Stadium – was 53 degrees and clear at kickoff.
And unless you are a fervent Florida State fan, that was about it for the good stuff.
The game was somewhat dull. The crowd was paltry. And a 22-year-old man fell about 40 feet from what was believed to be the fourth level of the stadium. The fan was transported to a local hospital with apparently serious injuries.
When the ACC dreamed up its championship game, this night was the nightmare in the closet.
It was the third time the ACC title game was contested in Charlotte but the first time things went sour.
Now, I still think this game is best suited to Charlotte and should make the city its permanent home. It hasn’t worked out that way yet, although the game will be played in the Carolina Panthers’ home stadium at least one more time, in 2013. But Saturday night was not the best advertisement for the title game sprouting permanent roots in the Queen City.
Back in 2010, Charlotte game organizers had purchased two enormous tarps to block off a few thousand of the upper-level end zone seats. Just in case.
They never needed the tarp the first two years, however. The game sold out each time, with official attendances of 72,379 and 73,675.
On this night, though, the tarps were needed and in place – a stark reminder of the lack of fans.
Although organizers officially sold 64,778 tickets, I would guess about 30,000 people actually showed up. There were entire rows of seats available, even in the lower-level end zones.
The poor crowd was not due to a poor job by game organizers – they were professional as usual. It was all about the matchup.
The fact that Georgia Tech (now 6-7) made the game was a product of twin scandals at North Carolina and Miami, which ultimately meant neither of those two teams could come.
No. 13 Florida State, now 11-2, is finishing up a good but not a glorious year. The Seminoles had lost the previous week to their fierce rival Florida, taking some luster off their own season in the view of their fans.
The Seminoles were better than the Yellow Jackets, however. Florida State led 7-0 after five minutes and 21-6 at halftime.
Georgia Tech – whose starting quarterback completed his first pass in the fourth quarter – made it briefly interesting with nine straight points to get to within 21-15 with 6:27 to go.
FSU then ran the clock down before giving the ball back to the Yellow Jackets at their own 15 with one timeout and 2:17 to go.
But before it got too tight, FSU’s Karlos Williams intercepted a rare Tech pass close to midfield to seal the game.
In 2010, the first year the ACC title game was held in Charlotte, it sleeted for part of the day and spat a cold drizzle for most of the rest.
Still, the stadium rocked. Virginia Tech beat Florida State, 44-33, in a game that featured a big play about every two minutes.
That was a fun night. It had everything but good weather.
Saturday night was not fun. It didn’t have much besides good weather.