SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
7/24/2007 12:55:00 PM
The ACC: How Low Can You Go?
Bobby Bowden's Florida State team hasn't finished in the Top 10 since 2000.
The ACC's coaches and players gathered in Pinehurst, N.C., Sunday and Monday for ACC Media Days, and one can only wonder how many of the writers who attended were there solely for the golf outing.
The nation's grandest basketball-conference-charading-as- a-football-power has hit a pretty indisputable rough patch. Check out these damning statistics from Bob Lipper's column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
∙ Last season, the ACC went 6-16 against opponents from other BCS conferences.
∙ The conference is 3-31 against top-10 opponents since 2000.
∙ Its league champion has lost in its bowl game seven straight years.
It's no coincidence that those unflattering statistics coincide with the recent demise of longtime league dynasty Florida State, whose last AP top-10 finish came in 2000. The question is, why have none of the league's other pre-expansion members been able to take advantage of the Seminoles' struggles?
At the beginning of this decade, nearly every school in the league either changed coaches, significantly upgraded their facilities or both. In 2000, N.C. State hired Chuck Amato. The next year, Maryland hired Ralph Friedgen, Virginia hired Al Groh, Wake Forest hired Jim Grobe, UNC hired John Bunting and Georgia Tech hired Chan Gailey. Nearly all of them generated significant buzz early (particularly Friedgen and Amato) but have failed to maintain the momentum (and in Amato and Bunting's cases, got fired). Only Grobe and Gailey's programs could currently be classified as "on the rise."
This is why it's no coincidence that my annual worst-coaches list has had a heavy ACC slant every year. You can't tell me there isn't talent in the ACC. Just two years ago, the league had more players selected in the NFL's first round (12) than any other conference. But with the exception of newcomer Virginia Tech, no one has been able to produce a consistent, national power.
Not surprisingly, then, most of the popular themes at Pinehurst this week involved ... improvement. As in, will Florida State return to prominence with its new coaching staff? Ditto Miami with new head coach Randy Shannon. Will new coaches Tom O'Brien and Butch Davis restore credibility at N.C. State and North Carolina? Will perennial underachiever Clemson finally turn the corner?
Or will the ACC remain largely irrelevant nationally for at least another season? What do you think?
I would say largely irrelevant for at least another year. Other than VT, which emotion may help or hinder this year, who else out there has a shot to contend with the big boys? FSU might get things together to compete for the conference and then get blown out in another BCS bowl. But, there isn't a national contender in the bunch.
the acc is fine fsu,miami,clemson,are on the way back,while ga.tech,va.tech are always strong and look at wake forest.also ga.tech is the only acc school to have winning seasons for 10 straight years.miami,fsu clemson,and gatech have all won national titles
Leave it to a Bug to bring up the fact that Tech has had a winning season in 10 straight years. What he fails to mention is that the majority of those seasons are 7-5, barely above .500, and he forgets to mention that Tech, because of O'Liar's indescretions, had to forfeit 3 years worth of wins for cheating. In fact, the Bigs are STILL on probation. As for the ACC, the supposed three best teams last year all got smoked in their bowls. Their so-called best team at the end of the year, with a "great" defense couldn't handle a true freshman quarterback and a first time playcaller. Wake Forest has to be ranked with Pitt was one of the worst BCS teams ever, and when Tech is "good" enough to win a division, that tells you all you need to know about how low the ACC has fallen. The order of BCS conferences goes something like this:
1) SEC 2) Everyone else
Okay, all jokes aside, if one were to rank the other conferences (on the strength of the TOTAL teams in the conference and not just on TWO teams, Big 11 lovers), knowing that they are FAR behind the SEC, it would be:
2) Big XII 3) Pac 10 4) Big 11 5) Big East 6) ACC
The ACC is the WORST BCS football conference, bar none. It is what it is.
I would say the sleeping giant in the ACC this year would be Boston College. Their defense should be just as good as last seasons, and remember, last year, they didn't lose a game by more than seven points, and they return the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year. Most importantly, they lost one the most conservative coaches in the country.
Wake was one of "the worst BCS teams ever"? They lost the Clemson game on a fluke play late in the game, the only big loss of their season was in a meaningless game against Va. Tech (the division was already clinched), and they led the Orange Bowl in the 4th quarter.
Just because a team isn't a traditional power doesn't mean they aren't a quality team.
ACC was doing fine before the addition of the new schools that was supposed to make it the absolute greatest league ever.
Time to disband all conferences and judge teams one by one. That's right - every team is an independent - like Army, like Navy. Are we too lazy to do that? Do we really need the silly debates about which conference is up or down? Conference affiliations just add a layer of corruption to college athletics. Rivalries and competition can still exist.
It's comical how the ACC apologists above post about how great the ACC is going to be and how many winning seasons each team has had. When you play an OOC schedule filled up with cupcakes then you will certainly have a winning season.
The ACC will rise again, there is too much football talent in the South and the East Coast for them to stay down too long. Miami is poised to have a breakout season with new coach Shannon, as much as that pains me to say. And I think FSU will finally hit its stride and play like its talented roster should allow.
Regarding Expert40's love for the SEC, I think that overstates the case a bit. Yes, Florida did destroy OSU to the point of embarrassment last year, but look again at how Arkansas and Tennessee failed to measure up. Rest assured that the BCS title game would have been much different had Ted Ginn played the entire game. Look only to his 93 yard kickoff return touchdown to see UF wouldn't have had an answer. Florida took away OSU's number one option and the linchpin to the entire 4 and 5 wideout offense was removed. Of course, that is all past, and it makes as much sense wondering "what might have been" had Willis McAghee not busted his knee in OSU's overtime victory.
If we were ranking the conferences, I'd have to concede that the SEC is the toughest and most accomplished conference, but not by much. The Big 10 is probably second with Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, and even Penn State all with legitimate shots at BCS bowl berths. The Pac 10 is probably better than a rebuilding Big XII right now, too.
"It's comical how the ACC apologists above post about how great the ACC is going to be and how many winning seasons each team has had. When you play an OOC schedule filled up with cupcakes then you will certainly have a winning season."
Yea...SEC fans are ones to talk:
SEC Teams are KINGS of scheduling cupcakes....just read the article.
Everyone who is posting is forgeting the golden rule of college football, there are no gaurantees.
I seem to remember one or two years ago the ACC cleaned the Big 10's clock in ALL the Bowl games with two BCS Bowl games invovled. What does that matter in a sport were the average life cycle of player is 3 years?
Nothing, Nada, Zilch; that's what. So to any idiot that says its one way or the other before one down has been hiked in 2007 season, well; you're a moron.
Sorry "expert," but as a writer on the website pointed out not too long ago, last season's third- and fourth-best Big Ten schools beat the SEC's second- and third-best teams in the bowls, so I fail to see how your rankings come about from that.
Aside from that, as much as it pains me to say, the ACC will have another down year. Yes, the conference will probably be pretty competitive within itself, as it always is, but it will fail to do much against the other conferences.
Oh, and as for conference rankings, I think they go a little more like this:
All of these SEC supporters are down right sickening ! Do any of you care to quote the current graduation rates from your member institutions? How about the criminal conviction rates of your programs for the last 5 years? I'm not even counting the University of South Carolina in this one, because that situation is just down right pathetic!! If winning a national championship has to be done at the cost of academic integrity, then have at it ! Just remember, once you sell your soul to the devil there is no going back!!
You are not very astute when it comes to football.
1.SEC 2.Big 10 3.Pac-10 4.Big 12 5.ACC 6.Big EAST
SEC is the obvioius Power in the land, no person with any football knowledge can argue that. The Big Ten has Michigan, Ohio St. , Wisconsin, Iowa, and Penn St. which are all good programs. The Pac 10 has USC, Cal, Oregon, Oregon St., and UCLA which are all quality programs.
The Big 12 is basically OU and Texas, and the ACC has become nothing more than over-hyped Miami & FSU + a legitimate Va. Tech.
Im sorry, were we debating football or a Mathlete competition. The fact is, when your team goes 2-5 in once of the worst conferences in the nation, the only thing you have left are your academics.
The fact is the SEC is clearly dominant of other conferences. A 6-2 bowl record last year proved that.
The ACC however shouldn't move up in strength except for maybe a Flordia St rise and a bigger maybe in VT. They'll still have a decent team in the recent Clemson. But aside from that the talent is lackluster at best.
Brian i'm not sure what bcs victories by the acc over the big ten in bcs games you are reffering to, i'm pretty sure you're confused cause the last big ten acc bcs matchup was pen state beating fsu.
also i have no probablem admitting sec is king right now, but dont forget the big ten got 2 out of 3 in bowl games last year, so they're a solid second in my book deffinatly above the pac ten. you cant judge dominance based on usc beating michigan when michigan is typically the big ten's number 2 or 3 and usc is the perenial #1 pac team by a mile, i would have liked to so them play osu last year
I truly wish you 12 year olds were capable of objectively looking at each conference, instead of just trumpeting whatever ever team you root for's conference. I'm an SEC fan. The SEC is still probably the toughest conference top to bottom but the Big East has 2 teams (WVU,'Ville) better than any SEC team and 2 more (Rutgers, USF) that can compete with any of the SEC elite. Times change, the distant past (in college football its 4 or 5 years)is irrelevant to what will happen this year. The big 11 is a terribly over-rated conf. the pac 10 is a one team league. the big 12 is actually getting better again but still is only better than the big 11 and the acc. the acc...wow...just terrible. the big east is for real. in 10 years y9ou will all be talking like you knew they were going to be as great as they already are. might as well jump on the bandwagon.
Hey Panthers, why son't you state your affiliation when you toss out a statement like that? My school, UF, was at 80% in the latest rankings that I've seen. One can only hope your shool isn't Pitt, because they're terrible and still can't graduate athletes.
Last year was unquestionably the perfect storm in the ACC. Miami and FSU will not both be down at the same time again. VT, Clem, and BC managed to lose exactly the right games to get shut out of the CG, leaving the fourth and fifth best teams (based on onfield performance last year) to play in our marquee bowls. Its the nature of college ball, its cyclical. And to the dude posting about the Big East, you're gonna find this out the hard way in ten years. RU will not maintain this level, and while Ville and WVU will be good, they're gonna dip after this year. Everyone does after losing guys like Slaton, White, and Brohm. To the guy up at the top (p.a.) who said FSU will get blown out in another BCS bowl- The Noles have never been blown out in a BCS bowl.
The ACC had a down year. They will be back. I predict that VT and FSU will have sensational season this year. Both will be in for a BCS bowl bid. Good Luck to them. I like both programs. However, I am a WVU fan. WVU is program that will just reload after White and Slaton leaves. They will only be Juniors this year though...so don't count out the Big East yet.
How can the ACC be better then the Big East when the BE top 2 teams beat the 2 top teams from the ACC and plus WV beat your 3rd or 4th place team Maryland! Just want you fans ranking these conferance to explain that to me?
Adam...you say that the 4th and 5th best teams represented the ACC in the marquee bowls "based on on field performance last year"...
I'm sorry, but aren't W-L records the epitome of on field performance? You play games to win, not to fill a stat sheet. Wake Forest was 10-2 at the end of the regular season, and then beat GT and lost in the 4th quarter to Louisville. They finished 11-3. That was good enough for the best record in the ACC. More wins than any other ACC team, and the fewest losses of any ACC team.
Just because FSU/Miami/VT didn't go to a BCS bowl, does not mean the ACC is horrible.
By the way:
1-SEC 2-BigTeleven 3a-Big East 3b-Pac10 5-ACC 6-Big12
FOR RIGHT NOW...the ACC will be back up and so will the Big 12...the Big East will fall, and hopefully the pac10 as well
Dave, Big 10 beat SEC 2nd and 3rd best teams????? What about LSU (who beat UT in Knox)? They didn't win the West but they were a top 5 team. That says it all about the SEC were a legit top 5 team can't even win it's division. Auburn was good enough to beat both LSU and Florida and finished 3rd in the West. It's the depth and huge home fields. Top conference runs in cycles. Sometimes other conferences are better, but it's really not close currently.
There is no question that the ACC has greatly fallen since its so-called "football-strengthening" expansion. The biggest accomplishment of expansion was the weakening of the ACC's stronghold on the college basketball world. That being said, UNC's facilities, location, attractive campus and academics, and now top-shelf coaching staff will make it a consistent BCS contender in 5 years.
.644 - Big East .619 - SEC .564 - Big 10 .552 - Big XII .543 - PAC 10 .532 - ACC
Teams with 8+ wins (post bowl): SEC - 8 Big XII - 6 ACC - 6 Big East - 5 Big 10 - 5 PAC 10 - 3
Bowl Teams: SEC - 9 Big XII - 8 ACC - 8 Big 10 - 7 PAC 10 - 6
Bowl Record: SEC - 6-3 Big XII - 2-5 ACC - 4-4 Big East - 5-0 Big 10 - 2-5 PAC 10 - 3-3
I still maintain that the SEC is the toughest conference, as some of the Big East's numbers have to do with their competition as the bottom half of the conference was a joke, and the bowl matchups are ridiculous
The SEC played: Ohio State Virginia Tech Penn State Wisconsin Oklahoma State Clemson Notre Dame Nebraska Houston
The Big East played: Wake Forest Georgia Tech Western Michigan Kansas State East Carolina
Its pretty easy to see who had the tougher bowl schedule.
Regardless, its the SEC, the Big East, and everybody else.
No question, the ACC has a couple of tough years ahead of them. Too bad the Florida schools aren't what they once were... watch for the advent of the North Carolina schools. The ACC is on its way up; it just may take a little time.