ACC Football by the Numbers: Does NFL Talent Equal Results?
Anyone who watches sports knows that bringing in talent is simply not enough.
Coaches have got to be able to produce with that talent, otherwise it is all the more frustrating for a fan-base to be stuck in middle of the pack in their conference standings.
When it comes to college football, we see a wide array of coaches. Some coaches are able to have big seasons with minimal NFL talent while others squander opportunities to make a run towards greatness.
So I decided to take a look at the talent in the ACC (starting with the 2003 season, the season before expansion) and how it compares to the results on the field.
Obviously some coaches have seen their pink slip during that time period and some coaches did a wonderful job of developing players into NFL players while some came tailor-built for greatness.
Those variables represent the unpredictability of college football, but the results for these programs during this time period are as follows:
NFL Draft Picks by College (2004-2009)
3. Virginia Tech-29
t5. N.C. State-19
8. Georgia Tech-17
9. North Carolina-14
10. Boston College-12
11. Wake Forest-11
These numbers are not particularly shocking. Miami and Florida State have incredible reputations for bringing in a cadre of blue chip players. That is the appeal of the Sunshine State.
Virginia Tech has become the dominant ACC team since joining the conference so it makes sense that the Hokies would be near the top.
The Cavaliers have cultivated some very good offensive lineman these past few years and Al Groh's NFL connections certainly help give his players the benefit of the doubt.
The next seven ACC teams are separated by eight players.
As for the Blue Devils, well Duke is Duke.
First Round Picks (2004-09)
1. Miami 12
2. Florida State 7
3. Virginia 5
t4. Boston College 4
t4. North Carolina State 4
t6. Maryland 3
t6. Virginia Tech 3
t8. Clemson 2
t8. North Carolina 2
t10. Georgia Tech 1
t10. Wake Forest 1
12. Duke 0
Miami clearly leads the way here at 12, with positions 3-11 all bunched together. Clearly having first round talent is not something that grows on trees.
Recruiting classes come and go but bringing in and developing potential first round picks is no small task.
For the ACC, talent appears to be pretty well distributed throughout the 12 schools.
Therefore the question must be asked, how did these teams do during this stretch?
ACC Team Records (2003-2008)
1. Virginia Tech 60-20
2. Boston College 56-22
3. Florida State 50-27
4. Miami 48-27
5. Clemson 47-28
6. Georgia Tech 46-31
7. Maryland 43-31
8. Virginia 42-32
9. Wake Forest 41-33
10. North Carolina State 34-29
11. North Carolina 28-44
12. Duke 12-58
That's right, the three ACC teams that bolted from the Big East occupy the first, second and fourth positions on the team record board.
Granted these team records bleed over into their tenure in the Big East but that does not change the fact that the two teams that have appeared the most in the ACC Championship game occupy the top two spots on our board.
The bottom three teams are the only teams to have losing records during this stretch and all three have experienced coaching changes.
The early dividends on all three replacements appear to be good and soon these numbers could change dramatically.
Until then, we can only speak about programs in general.
ACC Teams (Draft Rank, Winning Records Rank)
Boston College (10, 2)
Clemson (5, 5)
Duke (12, 12)
Florida State (2, 3)
Georgia Tech (8, 6)
Maryland (5, 7)
Miami (1, 4)
North Carolina (9, 11)
N.C. State (5, 10)
Virginia (4, 8)
Virginia Tech (3, 1)
Wake Forest (11, 9)
By the numbers it is clear that Boston College has won the big over-achiever award for the ACC.
The Eagles have a done a great job of producing quality seasons despite only having 12 players hear their names called on Draft Day.
Boston College has won at least nine games every year since 2004 and although they lost a first rounder in Matt Ryan last season, they were still able to win their division.
It will be interesting to see what will happen now after a second straight coaching change in the last three years.
Will this uncertainty upset the continuity of success? You would have to think so.
Numerically, the biggest underachievers would be the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Virginia Cavaliers.
If you're a Cavalier fan, you are used to hearing this argument. Virginia coach Al Groh has done a good job of developing talented players, he just has problems winning big games with them.
Virginia has actually produced more first round picks (most in the top 10) than their arch-rival in Blacksburg, yet it is the Hokies who are constantly bringing home the ACC Championship.
In this time period explored, Virginia has beaten the Hokies only once.
Win a few more of these games and the Cavaliers actually could have made it to Jacksonville and the tables may be turned.
However, the past is the past and if Groh does not make a brighter future he may face a similar fate to that of Chuck Amato.
The Wolfpack have brought us great NFL players like Phillip Rivers and Mario Williams, but they have also brought fans two winning seasons in the past six seasons.
In 2005, N.C. State had three first rounders and a 7-5 record.
After a 3-8 record where the Wolfpack seemed to almost forget how to win, a change needed to be made.
The Wolfpack now have Tom O'Brien, a solid coach who helped make Boston College the overachiever it has been.
O'Brien has his program on the rise and is becoming a trendy pick to surprise people next season.
Will he help take the Wolfpack from underachievers to overachievers?
Well that's the glory of football, we will just have to wait and see.
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