The ACC has picked up right where they left off in the bowls last season...as losers. Seven (that's right, seven) of the 12 member schools will have lost their opening weekend games by the time Miami and FSU play on Monday.
Keep in mind, opening weekend is when schools normally play their cupcakes. And while not every team played a cupcake, the collective firepower of the ACC opponents this week will be much less than your average week. And the ACC still couldn't get it done.
Maryland lost by 39 points to Cal. Granted this was an away game clear across the country but that was no excuse for Maryland to look like a cupcake themselves. By simply looking at the scoreline, you would have thought this was Central Maryland or Maryland State or the University of Baltimore versus the flagship University of Maryland.
Virginia lost to William and Mary. William and Mary! With the way they played, they might have lost to Peter, Paul, and Mary. This is enough to get Groh fired now rather than at the end of the year. I mean, what is really left to salvage for the season if you're losing to William and Mary? This team is destined for a 3-9 or 4-8 year.
We all know that means Groh is gone. So they should make it official early and get the inside track on the successful mid-major head coaches or top flight coordinators that are looking to upgrade from their current positions or become the head man.
Duke is supposed to be getting better under David Cutcliffe. The guy's been both a head coach (Ole Miss) and a coordinator (Tennessee) in the powerful SEC. He's supposed to know a thing or two about football. Today, Duke loses to Richmond. The Spiders! For those that may not be aware, like William and Mary, that's an FBS school.
Wake Forest, the team with that "awesome" head coach that gets Wake Forest to "overachieve," lost to perennial Big 12 cellar dweller Baylor. I've long contended that Wake Forest wasn't overachieving (which is why I put quotes around it) but simply playing weak competition. There certainly seems to be merit to that theory lately.
North Carolina State opened again with South Carolina. The positive was that they didn't allow South Carolina to score 34 again. However, in an ugly, boring game, NC State managed to score...drumroll please...one field goal. For those keeping score at home, that's less than 1 point per quarter of offensive firepower. They had 8 months to prepare for this game offensively and they gave us a field goal.
Finally, Virginia Tech held the conference's sole opportunity to make a statement in the now annual Chick-Fil-A sponsored opening game at a neutral site (Atlanta) featuring an ACC "power" versus and SEC power. Alabama dismantled Clemson last year and exposed them as pretenders.
This year, due to some gifts Alabama gave (kickoff coverage breakdown, fumble on their own 15 yard line leading to a field goal, etc.) Bama spotted Virginia Tech some points. As the game went on though, Bama pulled away and showed that it could have been much worse than the score indicated.
I was really hopeful when the ACC expanded. After all, if they were going to cause that much of a landscape shift in the college football world, they should make it count. Go big or go home, right?
And the trappings were there, theoretically. But, just as every year is supposed to be the breakout year that the conference finally turns the corner, the dream of that dies before the leaves turn colors and fall of the trees.
It's getting to be a tired refrain at this point. The ACC needs to step it up pronto outside of conference. There are other schools that think they deserve the BCS bowl slot that is reserved for the ACC winner (Boise State and BYU both beat ranked teams this weekend).
It's getting harder to explain to their fans that there can't be more than one non-BCS team when the BCS automatic-qualifying conference known as the ACC is putting up the collective performance of this year's opening weekend or last year's bowl games.