"What we saw just now will drive a coach insane."
It was sometime around midnight on Saturday, Dec. 3, and I was riding through uptown Charlotte on the media shuttle leaving the ACC championship game. The Clemson Tigers had just dismantled the Virginia Tech Hokies 38-10, almost exactly two months after beating them 23-3 in Blacksburg.
The only people riding in the van were me, former Hokies (not to mention North Carolina Tar Heels and Wake Forest Demon Deacons) head coach Bill Dooley and his wife. "I'm talking about playing a team twice in one year," the coach continued. "It's so hard to prepare for. And it is almost impossible to beat a team twice. That's how I know that Clemson is pretty dang good. And that's how I know that Coach Saban and Coach Miles won't be getting a whole lot of sleep over the next month."
"To a lot of people I'm sure it seems like, well, here we go again," says LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles, laughing at the question and agreeing with Dooley's comments. "Just pull out the playbook from November and win again, right? Yeah, right. Do that and we'll get whipped, because that sure isn't what Alabama is going to do. Football is always evolving. It changes every year, but it also changes every week. The tricks are to figure out what changes are the right ones for your team, and to try and anticipate what changes you might see from the other guys."
It is difficult to pinpoint the precise challenges facing any rematch teams, particularly in the national title game. Why? Because it is such a rare occurrence. And when I say "rare," I mean it's happened just once. Ever.
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