Since football still drives so much when it comes to conference revenues from TV Contracts, Bowl Deals, to a lesser extent the general health of a conference let’s take stock of ACC football.
Certainly it never hurts to have the best football team in the country. Clemson won their second national title in three years. That gives the conference three of the last six national titles. Florida State had theirs in 2013. That leads all conferences.
Right now if you win the ACC (mostly because you are Clemson or beat them) you’d be playoff team.
Aside from Clemson, most considered this a down year in the ACC. I’ll be the first to admit the ACC in general was a bit down. Syracuse was the only other ACC team finish the year in the top 25. Look closer and it may be better than you think though.
The ACC finished 6-5 in bowl games. That is only the third time since 2005 that the conference finished with a winning bowl record. While bowl games aren’t a perfect measure of conference strength, they do matter. You are playing teams outside of your conference for one of the few times during a year.
Turn the clock back to the BCS era and a 6-5 bowl record with a national champion year would constitute a fantastic year in the ACC. Expectations have changed since the conference’s football improvement the last several years.
In large part what happened in the ACC was that the traditionally strong programs like Florida State, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Miami were down. That gives the impression the conference was way down, but change the names and it doesn’t look the same.
Florida State 10-3 (Top 15 season, routed top 20 West Virginia in their bowl game) rather than Syracuse
Virginia Tech 8-5 (Won Bowl, Won at Baylor, and Northwestern) rather than Duke
Louisville 8-5 (Beat South Carolina 28-0 in their bowl game) rather than Virginia
Miami 9-4 rather than NC State
The conference seems to have been penalized because non-traditional football teams rose up and improved this year. In the SEC when Auburn is down, and Ole Miss is up the SEC just has tremendous depth.
That said in the ACC there’s a gaping hole between between Clemson and the rest of the conference. It is reminiscent of Florida State’s dominance in the 1990s. Remember it was considered Florida State and everybody else. Even though UNC, Virignia, and Georgia Tech had some fine football teams during parts of the Nole’s run.
As many gains as the conference has since the dark ages of the BCS era, it still struggles for respect nationally. No power 5 conference finished more than 1 game over .500 during bowl season. At the end of the day, this is what really holds true. Not that much separates the Power 5 conferences. It’s hasn’t been true for several years when the SEC was heads and shoulders above the rest of the country. The SEC probably by a hair was the best top to bottom conference this year. The Pac 12 is probably bringing up the rear, but good quality football is played across the country. It has been that way for quite some time.
No conference is showing run away dominance… The last 3 years here are the bowl records of the Power 5 show that, but as we know that’s only part of the story.
ACC : 19-14
Big 10 : 15-12
Big 12 : 13-8
SEC : 17-19
Pac 12 : 7 – 15
The ACC could have used more marquee OOC wins this year, and finishing with only 2 ranked teams has to be improved. Still it wasn’t quite the down year some are claiming.