Well, if you picked the phrase "Saved by the Bell," then you would be one of the many who grew up following the zany exploits of Zack, A.C., Kelly and the rest. But, if you really think about the quirky, Saturday morning romp through Bayside high school, you would realize that if you were to cast ACC football teams to play the characters on the show, it would be an easy call.
By the way, did "Save by the Bell" just go straight downhill when Kelly and Jessie left and they brought in that biker chick? Those episodes should have never, ever happened. Ever. Just like "Saved by the Bell, The College Years."
Anyway, on with the casting!
Zack Morris (Florida State): I really battled over this, because I think in time it could be the mighty Wolfpack that is strutting around the conference with the bulky cell phone and the perfect hair, but right now, I'm going with the ‘Noles.
The reason is purely because of the national appeal and recognition. The first time you watched NYPD Blue and saw Sipowitz's new partner, every single 20-something in American turned to each other and said, "It's Zack!" It's the same way with FSU football - you just know it when you see it.
A.C. Slater (N.C. State): The second in command. The popular sidekick. The stud jock. The guy who flexed his muscles and had actual human beings just stop dead in their tracks. Right now, that is the exact definition of NCSU football. We're next in line. We're the ones with the stud quarterback (if you don't believe me, Ivan Maisel of cnnsi.com has Philip Rivers ranked third in his Heisman voting. THIRD! I hope the NCSU athletic department has those "The Rivers Runs Through It" buttons going out to voters!). We're not quite NYPD Blue yet, but we're hovering around that "Made for the USA Network movie" that we're bound to see Slater in sometime soon.
On a side note: Has any character in modern television history done more with a mullet than A.C. Slater? I think not, with the possible exception of Michael Knight.
Kelly Kapowski (North Carolina): The correlations here are frightening and, frankly, disturbing. Every high school guy's fantasy. Way too popular. Never really could capitalize on her assets (Folks, if any of you went to high school with a girl like this, she was dating a college guy. End of story). Experienced a slow, agonizing fade from high school sweetheart to ruthless psycho on "90210." Just like UNC football: Everybody's Top 10 darling during the latter part of the Mack Brown years and now they're losing to Miami (Ohio). Ain't life great?
Jessie Spano (Wake Forest): The popular brainiac without an ounce of athletic ability. Ultimately, the only way she could finally get noticed was by appearing topless in "Showgirls." Folks, the latter is roughly equivalent of the Wake Forest football team beating Nebraska in Lincoln. And doing it topless. That is the only way they're getting any attention from people outside the ACC.
Samuel "Screech" Powers (Duke): The non-popular brainiac without an ounce of athletic ability (lost 23 straight games), who finally proved he was at least somewhat coordinated when he helped his red ROTC team beat the blue ROTC team in the obstacle course (upset ECU). Folks, if this isn't Duke football, I don't know what is. Just change the school name to "Screech University" and let's move forward.
Mr. Belding (Clemson): The guy was the Clemson football of high school principals: Have the facilities, have the clout, have the reputation, there are hardly any real classes and yet he just barely got the job done because somebody liked him. I just don't get Clemson. Is it me or should they be top 15 every, single year? Death Valley is just a great place.
And has an authority figure ever been treated with as much disrespect as Mr. Belding? Honestly. Do you know anyone in high school that got away with the crap that Zack did and wasn't immediately shipped off to some military academy in the middle of Podunk, North Dakota? Me neither.
Lisa Turtle (The rest of the conference): Lisa was a great supporting character, and only occasionally got the viewing public interested in what she was doing. Too few plot lines written around her character and she never really added anything to the show. By the same token, "Saved by the Bell" wouldn't have worked without her.
My point is that you need other teams to make a conference work who, every five years or so, makes some noise. In the ACC, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Virginia fit the bill nicely. Every conference has to have their "Lisa Turtles." Take the Big East: Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. You can find them everywhere.
Now, let's all wait and see what happens when Zack and Slater fight later this year … at Carter-Finley. I like those odds…