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The Upper North Perspective: Peering Into the Coastal

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A closer look at the Coastal division can provide clarity in how Georgia Tech’s opponents view the rest of the conference.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Georgia Tech
The Ramblin’ Wreck looks deeper into the Coastal division.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Peering Into the Coastal

The Upper North Perspective is back again this week with a follow up from last week’s column and a slight change in formatting. We are going to examine our Coastal division opponents and how they may view their schedule. “Atlanta’s Original Team” actually threw out this suggestion in the comments section of the first column, so I looked at the recent trends for our Coastal opponents and how that possibly affected each fan base. We know that a vast majority of the GT fan base focuses on four games to grade a season or progress: Georgia, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami. For the purpose of the column, I am only going back to 2008 for ACC play to mirror CPJ’s time.

I would like to give a special thanks to some of the writers from the other SBNation sites for fielding some of my questions. Thanks to Jim Hammett from Cardiac Hill (Pitt), Cameron Underwood from State of The U, Paul Wiley from Streaking the Lawn (UVA), and Roy Hatfield from Gobbler Country.

Pittsburgh

  • Duke: 2-1
  • North Carolina: 0-3
  • UVA: 2-1
  • Virginia Tech: 2-1
  • Miami: 1-2
  • GT: 1-2
  • Atlantic: 5-1

Pittsburgh is the most recent addition to the Coastal division, and in turn, they do not have much of a history to base information on. In their short time in the conference, Georgia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina have provided the most trouble. They have been fairly dominant in their meetings with the Atlantic division.

In speaking with Jim Hammett, he confirmed most of our opinions about Pitt. There just is not enough history at this point to move the needle either way. Pitt considers Penn State to be their biggest rival and values OOC games against West Virginia and Notre Dame. In conference, old Big East ties resonates the most with Pitt fans as they value Miami, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse.

Pitt seemingly respects Georgia Tech for the institution that it is and Paul Johnson’s success at Tech. The games have been solid between the two teams, and Pitt fans empathize with GT to an extent with similar situations in-state and location wise.

Duke

  • Virginia Tech: 2-6
  • North Carolina: 2-6
  • UVA: 6-2
  • Pitt: 1-2
  • Miami: 1-7
  • GT: 2-6
  • Atlantic: 10-11

Duke is impacted heavily on the table from their lack of success before the last few years. Basically, all the teams on the schedule give Duke a difficult time except for Virginia. Surprisingly, Duke does fairly well against Virginia. Duke has also been aided in recent years by a weak Atlantic schedule and a yearly game with Wake Forest.

I was unable to contact a representative for Duke as they only have a basketball website through SBNation. This should provide us with our response in terms of the games that they concentrate on for football season. I would think that the state schools would be the primary focus for Duke, but they have not had enough consistent success to value certain Coastal games over others.

In terms of Georgia Tech, I assume the animosity between Cutcliffe and Paul Johnson rolls over into the fan base. Cutcliffe has made some disparaging remarks about Tech football and how our offense runs, and the supporters of the team are probably swayed by this opinion.

North Carolina

  • Duke: 6-2
  • Virginia Tech: 3-5
  • UVA: 6-2
  • Pitt: 3-0
  • Miami: 4-4
  • GT: 3-5
  • Atlantic: 11-10

North Carolina has been up and down pretty frequently over the past 8 years in conference. They had one great year last year with an 8-0 conference record. Carolina has had solid success against the Coastal division for the most part, but they have struggled with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech with a record of 3-5 against each. They have played just over .500 against the Atlantic division with a 3-5 record against conference crossover rival, N.C. State.

I was never able to get in touch with a representative at the Tar Heel Blog, but using deductive reasoning, we know where North Carolina’s priorities lie. Games against the other North Carolina state teams would rank high on the list with an extra emphasis on N.C. State due to the recent record. Virginia is also high on that list as they play in the South’s Oldest Rivalry. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have to be on the next tier.

Georgia Tech has done fairly well against North Carolina since 2008. I do not know how their fans feel about GT, but I do know that the coaching staff at UNC respects what CPJ does. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has remarked multiple times how much he hates game planning for this offense.

Virginia

  • Duke: 2-6
  • North Carolina: 2-6
  • VT: 0-8
  • Pitt: 1-2
  • Miami: 4-4
  • GT: 3-5
  • Atlantic: 7-14

The last eight years for Virginia have not been pretty. Outside of one year at 5-3, the Virginia Cavaliers have struggled more often than not. This is reflected in their conference record against each opponent. It is a bit surprising that their best head to head record is actually with Miami. Outside of that, all of the Coastal teams own a winning record over Virginia, and a few of the series are not even close.

After speaking with Paul Wiley, he expressed major optimism over the future with Bronco Mendenhall. Paul did confirm a pecking order for UVA fans. Virginia Tech is obviously the number one target on their list as they are the in-state rival. In the last eight years alone, VT is 8-0 over UVA. UNC is the second rival for UVA as they play in the South’s Oldest Rivalry. Georgia Tech is the general consensus third team on the list for UVA fans due to an active alumni base in the Atlanta area and recent history providing a solid rivalry.

Wiley notes that the UVA fan base has a ton of respect for GT for the playing style and value of academics. (Sensing a theme here??) He did note that GT is a true Jekyll-Hyde experience though. If things are clicking for Tech, there is nothing the opposition can do, but if they are not, it is a simple implosion snap after snap.

Miami

  • Duke: 7-1
  • North Carolina: 4-4
  • UVA: 4-4
  • Pitt: 2-1
  • Virginia Tech: 4-4
  • GT: 6-2
  • Atlantic: 8-13

The thing that surprises me most here is Miami’s consistency against the teams in the Coastal division. Owning no worse than a 4-4 record against the Coastal rivals, Miami has shown a consistency that I did not expect. Miami has dominated the Duke and Georgia Tech series. The Atlantic, Florida State in particular at 7-1, has enjoyed some success against Miami.

Cam Underwood said being excited would be an understatement for the Mark Richt tenure. Cam stated the only game that Miami fans circle as a special matchup each year is the game against Florida State. The Coastal division may present a challenge occasionally, but those games do not carry a special meaning. Looking at the record, I am not surprised by this statement at all.

In response to how Miami feels about GT, Cam noted that it was more of an annoyance. The supporters of Miami feel that this is a game they should win more often than not, and it carries more of a “game week” attention than a year round anticipation.

Virginia Tech

  • Duke: 6-2
  • North Carolina: 5-3
  • UVA: 8-0
  • Pitt: 1-2
  • Miami: 4-4
  • GT: 6-2
  • Atlantic: 12-9

The dominance from Virginia Tech over this stretch is indicated in their records against the Coastal teams. The record against Pitt does reveal the slight drop off over the past three years. Outside of that, Miami has caused Virginia Tech the most trouble in division with a 4-4 record overall. The Atlantic has had some success considering VT is 6-2 against Boston College and 6-7 against the rest of the division.

Roy Hatfield indicated the games that generate the most interest from Virginia Tech annually are Virginia and Miami in the Coastal with North Carolina generating some interest over the past couple of years. Virginia is the obvious in-state team, and Miami carries over some Big East connections.

Roy stated that the general feeling about Georgia Tech is that it is a good rivalry, but it is tiered below the other three. He did state that it is a game that he hates to see coming up on the schedule due to the offense that is run, but it just is not considered a big VT rivalry.

Wrapping Up

Georgia Tech has enjoyed strong success against the Coastal division outside of Miami and Virginia Tech, and I think that is represented in how each team views us above. The fan perspective of opponents seems to mirror recent trends in winning percentages as well.

It is interesting that all of the Coastal teams have relatively average to mediocre records against the Atlantic division, and Georgia Tech is 16-5 (12-1 outside of Clemson) since 2008. This is an insane gap that GT uses to even the score in the Coastal most years.

What, if anything, did this do for you as you look at the rest of the Coastal? Did it strengthen any arguments or put things into perspective? As always, let me know what you think. You never know what may spur my thought process for a follow-up column.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next week!