There they are right on our schedule right after we play a physically loaded UNC team and right before that unpleasantness that occurs the last game of the year. When it comes to football Duke is kind of like that want-a-be who crashes a really good party and you are torn between hoping they pull it off and just being embarrassed for them. So who is Duke?
First a little arcane history -Auburn, Oxford, Vanderbilt, Emory, Duke. That is the order in which Methodists attempted to establish a college for professionals. Auburn "left the church" in 1872. The location of the school in Oxford Georgia prevented easy expansion. Vanderbilt was started in 1873. They "left the church" in 1914. Emory was started in 1915 with strict by-laws prohibiting "big time" college sports so that the church could finally hang onto a school with academic integrity that still produced some of the South's best teachers, doctors, clergy, researchers and lawyers.
Duke failed to get the memo. They kept their church affiliation while trying to live up to Emory's academic excellence and playing "big time" college sports. Meanwhile for several decades Duke has battled student alcoholism, grade inflation and a .489 all time football winning percentage. So, to put it bluntly, trying to keep up with both Emory and Tech has not worked out well for the Blue Devils.
But let me come clean. On some level I pull for these guys. Perhaps I am a sucker for underdogs. Or maybe it is because of Wallace Wade. In 1930, after coaching national powerhouse Alabama and winning 3 national championships, Wade shocked the football establishment by leaving Alabama to take the head coaching job at Duke. He did so he said because he "believed that a school should provide its athletes with a strong academic background." The 16 years he coached at Duke put them on the national map and to this day these remain their most storied years in football.
Still, facing Duke on November 17 is like enduring flies at a picnic. You would really just like to get down to the business of the fried chicken and potato salad but you worry that if you let that fly linger too long on your plate you will ingest something vile or noxious. At the same time you don't want to spend your entire picnic waving your hand back and forth. So you try to balance between the two, not taking the flies too seriously but not letting them get a foothold either. The mind of the Tech fan will be slowly drifting toward Athens all the while knowing that Duke needs to be dealt with or it will spoil the whole picnic. Pests.
So what about the game? Will Sean Renfree smash ACC records this year and will an experienced offensive line finally open up a running game? The defense still looks to be one of the worst in the ACC. The NCAA is allowing athletes to transfer from Penn State to other programs and play immediately but it is not going to allow former Ohio State defensive player Jeremy Cash to do so.
Let's hear your opinion. Will Duke wear their black helmets? Will Tech simply brush the flies of Duke away from the table or will it be closer than we think or fear?