Simply Un-ACC-eptable: Conference Looks Bleak This College Football Season
Somewhere, John Swofford is crying.
It seemed like a genius plan for the ACC Commissioner—expand the ACC to twelve teams, garner a championship game, and watch the revenue pour in.
Certainly, the process was far from clean, but it was effective. The ACC originally wanted to steal the top-shelf Big East teams, Syracuse, Miami, and Boston College.
Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, among others, threw a wrench in that plan, though, and made a major push to bring the Hokies into the raid. So Syracuse was out, and Virginia Tech was in thanks to a close decision in which the Hokies' bitter rival Virginia turned out to be the deciding vote.
It may not have been without controversy, but the ACC should be grateful for the Hokies. Otherwise, a sad conference would be even worse.
The great irony of this move was that many thought it would be the end of the Big East as a power conference. There was outrage over whether the Big East even deserved a BCS bid. However, it has been the ACC experiencing its fair share of misery in bowl games, only one BCS victory and none since the merger.
Meanwhile, Big East teams like West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers have made the most of their postseason appearances. The conference appears to be improving, as teams like UConn and South Florida have now become competitive at a national level.
Well, this year appeared to be the year the Clemson Tigers might bring back pride to the much-maligned ACC. Clemson had a top-10 ranking, the ACC's best quarterback and running tandem, with plenty of experience.
They left looking like a Pop Warner team after the incredibly young-but-talented Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the "Paper" Tigers, 34-10.
Oh, but if only that was the end of it.
Virginia Tech had lost nearly its entire defense heading into the 2008 season, and, when Macho Harris did not make the trip to Charlotte, Hokie fans had reason to be concerned.
Still, even with a turnover-prone performance by senior quarterback Sean Glennon, the Hokies were in good position. They had been completely outplayed by the ECU Pirates in the first half and yet were leading, 14-0. However, uncharacteristically poor tackling and missed opportunities allowed "Beamer Ball" to work against the Hokies, as a blocked punt led to the go-ahead touchdown for the Pirates.
So the two teams many predicted to go undefeated in an incredibly weak ACC could not survive Week One.
Well, what about some of those dark horses?
UNC was a popular pick to be a team to watch in the ACC Coastal. Well, the ACC was watching, as the Tar Heels barely squeaked by lowly McNeese State.
Maryland? Too busy trying to squeak by Delaware to worry about the ACC.
Virginia? Well, the Cavaliers laid down the second the Trojans decided to "Fight On" in Charlottesville.
The Wolfpack of NC State were equally inept when they were shut out by the South Carolina Gamecocks. Key injuries also helped ensure that head coach Tom O'Brien's second year at the helm would make him wish even more that he had never left Boston College to begin with.
ACC fans better hope Wake Forest can carry the banner for the conference this season. The Demon Deacons handled Baylor and were the only team this week that looked truly impressive to the rest of the country. Quarterback Riley Skinner, alongside Josh Adams at running back, do help create a very potent offense that could lead Wake Forest to its second ACC title in the last three years.
Perhaps Miami will join that list of ACC title contenders, but beating up on lowly Charleston Southern is not exactly the same as beating a conference rival.
Well...this year it may be.
College football fans get quite the treat next weekend, though, when the ACC and the SEC do battle one more time. Miami has a chance to give ACC fans something to brag about next weekend the Hurricanes take on the Florida Gators and reigning Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow, while the Demon Deacons take on the Ole Miss Rebels.
Hopefully the second act of the 2008 season will be better than the opening performance for the ACC, but, then again, could it really be worse?
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