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Mike London: ACC will be viewed 'more positively' in long run

Earlier today on the ACC coaches’ teleconference, Virginia Coach Mike London was asked for his thoughts on the ACC’s performance thus far in non-conference play. The ACC is 17-11 through three weeks of the season against non-conference foes.

“Well, you look at, early on, who out of the conference teams are playing,” London said. “Oklahoma and Boise State and different schools, so difficult schedules with tough teams early on. Stanford. All those teams have done a nice job.”

Indeed, of the ACC’s 11 non-conference losses, nine came against programs that are ranked in this week’s Associated Press top 25 poll. Another loss came against 1-AA James Madison, which received eight votes in this week’s AP poll. The only non-conference foe to defeat an ACC squad that is not ranked, nor receiving any votes, is Kansas, which beat Georgia Tech, 28-25, on Sept. 11.

So if you want to look at it from that standpoint, nearly all of the ACC’s non-conference losses thus far have been to respectable teams. And ACC schools should be applauded, to some degree, for scheduling such opponents.

But that’s not the entire issue. As one of the “Big Six” conferences – the ones that receive automatic Bowl Championship Series bids – the ACC should be expected to compete against the best teams in the nation. And its teams should be expected to perform well in those contests.

In many cases, they’re not.

North Carolina hung tough against Louisiana State, Virginia played admirably against Southern California and Clemson took Auburn to overtime.

But Virginia Tech played sloppily in its loss to Boise State (and that, it turned out, was just the beginning of the Hokies' problems), Oklahoma thrashed Florida State by 30, Ohio State soundly defeated Miami, West Virginia beat up on Maryland and Stanford pounded Wake Forest by 44 points.

Here are the ACC’s marquee non-conference triumphs this season: Navy, Cincinnati and Brigham Young. Oh, and Central Florida; can’t forget about the Knights. None of these teams received votes in this week’s AP poll.

Preseason rankings don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but they do provide an indication of expectations. Five ACC teams were ranked in the preseason AP poll, and two other ACC squads received votes.

One ACC team was ranked in this week’s AP poll – No. 19 Miami – and four other ACC squads received votes. Virginia Tech – at No. 10, the highest-ranking ACC team in the preseason poll – received no votes.

For a team like the Hokies, a championship remains plausible, even after losing to James Madison. After all, non-conference records don’t count for anything in terms of competing for a spot in the ACC title game.

But non-conference records do serve as an early measuring stick for how teams from one conference stack up against those of another. The second measurement is taken during bowl season in December and January, where once again teams from different conferences face one another.

“I just think that on every Saturday, regardless of who the opponent is that you have to play, I think our conference has good teams, and I think over the long run when you start to look at the season and how it plays out and who's playing who, I think you'll get a better indication of how the conference is doing,” London said Wednesday. “But you're right, you look at the beginning of it, and you see it's not, it wasn't, you look on the ledger of wins and losses and it wasn't as impressive.

“But I think over the long run when you start looking at conference play and as the teams start to get better, that the ACC will be viewed more positively than it's being viewed presently.”

Miami will have a chance to kick-start that movement Thursday night when the Hurricanes play at Pittsburgh, a team that received a good number of votes in this week’s AP poll.

By Steve Yanda  | September 22, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
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