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The big, bad ACC

The ACC is at it again. Two weeks into the season, what I have said for years still holds true: The conference is fascinating, thrilling, topsy-turvy and zany to those who cover it, play and coach in it, attend the schools and flip burgers in the concession stands at the stadiums. To everyone else, it’s irrelevant.


There were some gullible souls who actually bought into the preseason hype – yes, I was one – and thought this would finally be the season when the conference produced a true national title contender. Virginia Tech was as strong as ever. Miami was back. Florida State was back. North Carolina was stout defensively. Georgia Tech was set for another run. The Coastal Division looked four deep. The Atlantic looked at least one deep.

Forget all that.

The only way the season could have started worse for the ACC would have been if Navy had piled up 486 instead of 485 total yards against Maryland on Labor Day. The ACC had four big nonconference games. It lost all four, and Florida State was beaten soundly by Oklahoma.

An 0-4 record in those games was always a possibility. But fewer people could have envisioned Georgia Tech losing to a Kansas team that had lost to North Dakota State. And while James Madison is formidable, few foresaw it walking into Lane Stadium and beating the Hokies on Saturday.

The conference now appears as if it will be as muddled as ever, which is a good thing if you cover it. Virginia has strong leadership at head coach and will be pesky. Maryland is improved – how much so remains to be seen – and have two intriguing options at quarterback. Wake Forest has some early answers about quarterback questions. Duke still has an offense. Boston College and Clemson will contend in the Atlantic. And Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami all are beatable because all have already been beaten.

Virginia Tech may very well get its special teams in gear and rely on its running game to carry it to the ACC title. Miami QB Jacory Harris may very well settle down. The offense may very well come alive in Tallahassee. And the Tar Heels could even salvage the season amid a possible rogue nanny and player-agent issues. But this much is also true:

It’s another season in the ACC when a 5-3 league record might be good enough to garner a berth in the title game. And it’s another season when no national title contender will emerge from the 12-team league. As if that’s breaking news.

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 13, 2010; 9:08 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Kicker Baltz making impact for Maryland


How about a crap shoot? Anything's possible in this conference.

Posted by: SirPelleas | September 13, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The conference is certainly weak, but how about a crap shoot as well? Anything's possible in this conference, except for the emergence of a national contender.

Posted by: SirPelleas | September 13, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Bring back the 8 team basketball conference

Posted by: Kev29 | September 13, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

There are a number of ways to measure strength of conference but for years now Prisbell has decided to only look at the top of a conference to determine its strength. The fact is, 2 years ago the ACC set an NCAA record with 10 bowl teams. I repeat: 10 bowl teams in one year from the ACC.

If you look at a conference from not just the top, but from top all the way to the bottom, the ACC is once again one of the strongest conferences in football. Duke has long been the doormat of the ACC but even they are now becoming less and less of a cupcake. The fact is there are no guaranteed wins in the ACC conference schedule like there are in EVERY SINGLE OTHER CONFERENCE IN DIVISION 1.

My advice to Prisbell is to stop cherry-picking your data and look at the big picture. Are the teams at the top of the ACC the best teams in college football? No...but our teams at the bottom half of the league are as good as the bottom half of any conference in the country...for the umpteenth year in a row.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 14, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

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