As we get closer and closer to kickoff, we’ll be looking across the nation at other (read “inferior”) conferences. This way, you’ll have just enough information to argue with that guy in accounting. Today we take a look at the Atlantic Coast Conference- nope, FSU and Clemson haven’t left yet.
Where does the conference fall in the national rankings. How likely are they to have a team in the Title game?
It’s not that the ACC hasn’t been able to compete on a national stage over the years or the fact that they don’t get ranked teams. They haven’t been able to finish at the end of the season. The only BCS National Champion they’ve produced is Florida State in 2000 as they beat a then Big East Virginia Tech. As a conference, the ACC is 2-13 overall in BCS bowls they have participated in and 1-2 in the Title game. They double dipped in the BCS last year and everyone knows how both of those turned out.
Who’s the best team in the conference? Who will play for in the conference title game (if there is one)?
Clemson has the best talent in the conference with several players returning on the defense that didn’t show up for their bowl game against WVU last season- They are a team on a mission and the offensive firepower to do it. The conference race will take care of itself more or less as FSU plays at VTU late in the season, Clemson will play at FSU, and VTU has to go to Death Valley. It could boil down to the home team winning out and there not being a clear-cut champion and either Clemson or FSU will play VTU in the ACC Championship game.
I am of the belief that Clemson will hold pat on the road at FSU and finish the season undefeated and take on the Hokies. This isn’t a surprise as Virginia Tech has played in five of the seven conference title games winning three of them and losing last years’ to Clemson.
Who are the worst teams in the conference?
The general consensus is that the Duke Blue Devils are and always will be the worst team in the conference and they will struggle to win a conference game this year with a crazy cross over schedule traveling to Wake Forrest and FSU. However; head coach Dave Cutcliffe has done an admirable job trying to make it more than just a basketball school (yeah right) and returns 17 starters. They will put a better product on the field than the Maryland Terrapins’ and the BC Eagles.
These two teams will play each other for a chance at the worst record in the conference in week nine as Duke upsets UNC in week six to get their lone conference victory. The final score of the BC and Maryland game should look a lot like one of their baseball games 3-2 BC. Plus, any discussion of these two squads has to include the words “uniforms” and “Bollman”.
There’s a good possibility that “Da U” could end up in this category sometime in the near future, as Coach Golden awaits whatever hammer the NCAA is poising to drop.
Who are the Conference offensive/Defensive MVPs? “Kirk Ferentz Coach of the Year” award winner?
If there’s ever been a sophomore WR that will land on the national stage then it has to be Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. His amazing frosh season saw him take in 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 TD’s. Frankly, he made Tajh Boyd look like a Heisman candidate last season and is the clear-cut pre-season POTY for the ACC. He quite possibly could be the first WR to win the top award in college football since Desmond Howard did it in 1991, and Sammy is only a sophomore. Look for this kid to dominate the ACC and national stages this season.
Most experts pick DE Brandon Jenkins from FSU as the best defensive player in the ACC, but I am going against the grain on this one. CB David Amerson, from NC State, the 6’3” junior burst onto the scene last year by setting a new ACC record with 13 interceptions and also chipped in with 53 tackles. He has perfect size to play corner and has a bright future in the NFL. He will have to support in run stopping as NC State has an all new LB corps this year but he can do it as teams will throw away from him anyway and look to run first.
Evidently, most people in the ACC forgot exactly why Randy Edsall was hired away from UCONN by Maryland. He is a good coach and will build a good program. Twenty-four players transferred out of the program from his first year including starting QB Danny O’Brien but that didn’t prevent him from stealing a recruit from tOSU in Stefon Diggs as a part of the 36th best overall class. All new coaches’ face the fall-out that Edsall has when they come in and do what they do best and coach using their system.
Edsall took a football program from the ranks of the 1AA at a basketball first school and built it into one of the better teams in the Big East winning the conference title twice. He will struggle to win games this year in the conference but has a chance to turn things around with his people in place. The best coach in a conference isn’t always the one who wins all of their games. In my opinion it is the guy who does more with less and handles the most adversity. That will be Randy Edsall for the 2012 football season in the ACC.
What movie best describes the conference overall? Why is that?
If you haven’t seen the movie Million Dollar Baby with Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank, then you must. As much as sports movie about domination and tradition would be about ACC basketball, this movie literally portrays what ACC football is like and it could be the death of them.
The scary thing about Hilary Swank’s character (Spoiler Alert!) dying because of a freak accident after being knocked out is that she made it to the championship and lost her life. The ACC is teetering on a slope that could be the end of the ACC as we all know it. Their inability to perform on the national stage and in the BCS is causing teams to look elsewhere. If they don’t do something about it, they could be hitting their proverbial neck on the stool.
What’s the stereotype re: fans across the conference? How accurate do you think that is?
The ACC is a basketball conference and there’s no denying it. They have excelled in other sports areas as a conference but they have always been top-heavy in basketball. The irony in this fact is that over the past few years their expansion has been primarily centered on football programs to try to bolster the conference. It almost backfired on them in the fact that they almost lost FSU and may still and is now looking to expand to sixteen schools and have UCONN and Rutgers on their radar.
It’s strange that the only way the conference may survive is by building up their football school and face being on the outside looking in with regard to a conference alliance with another. Maybe this is why the B1G and the PAC12 backed out of their agreement. ACC and B1G already have a great thing going in basketball, maybe it can work in football as well? Only time will tell.