The conference will bounce back next year…The teams are too talented, the recruiting base too deep, and the coaches are too smart; it’s only a matter of time before the ACC is back…
Uh, how sure are we of this?
Here’s a list of the teams in the ACC:
Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, Wake Forrest.
Waiting for it to sink in…Still waiting…There it is.
This isn’t a dominant conference anymore; plain and simple. To be fair every conference is a distant second to the SEC at this point, but the fact is, over the past decade we’ve witnessed the erosion of the ACC.
There are always pundits claiming this is the year that we see improvement across the board in the ACC. That this is the year notable schools like FSU,Miami,Maryland, and Clemson break through. Perhaps it’s time we stop waiting and just look at the conference for what it is: second-tier.
For a conference that has won multiple National Championships (Miami-5, GT-4, FSU-2,Clemson-1) it’s been tough to watch, especially recently. Miami has long since been a school under scrutiny; the bad boys of college football. Now, they have the scrutiny, a booster running his mouth, and an entire program on its death bed. Florida State handled the resignation of Bobby Bowden about as bad as they could have, and programs like Clemson, GT, and Maryland are seemingly always one year away.
So, if the ACC is down who’s reaping the benefits? While FSU and Miami get the prime-time TV games, major recruits, and all the hype and prestige that goes along with that; one school has maintained a winning atmosphere, and simply dominated the conference since joining in 2004.
The Hokies have won the ACC Championship four times since joining the conference in ’04. A program built from the ground up by Frank Beamer & Company (2nd in active coaching wins, only to the ageless Joe Paterno); built on the legends of Bruce Smith and Micheal Vick. With a lunch pail attitude and great special teams, VT has been the shining light in an otherwise murky ACC.
After starting last year 0-2, remember the heart breaking loss to Boise State in the opening game, followed by a questionable schedule design when they played JMU (FCS) only five days later, losing 21-16 at home, the season looked grim for the Hokies.
The JMU loss was rock bottom for the club. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (another Hokie legend, 3-year starter) and Coach Beamer rallied the team. They would string together 11-straight wins after that. For a team that was written off at the beginning of the season, not contenders in the ACC, they relished the role of underdog.
They didn’t lose in-conference all season. Their only loss following Week 2 was in the Orange Bowl against Andrew Luck and his gifted Stanford Cardinal offense, losing 40-12. Although the season didn’t end how the Hokies would have liked, what Tech accomplished last season should not be ignored.
From 0-2 to 11-3, another ACC Title, another BCS Bowl bid.
And now, Tech’s embarking on a new season with new challenges; new skill players at quarterback, running back, and all along the defensive and offensive lines. While nearly every unit reloads, the coaches expect the same output. With a great coaching staff, one of the best home fields in all of college football, and a diehard fan base, those who write-off Virginia Tech every year should check the records.
Everyone’s high on Florida State this year and rightfully so, they have some great players. The rest of the conference has made improvements as well: Randy Edsall invigorating the Maryland program, Mike London recruiting well at UVA, and teams like GT and Clemson determined to break through.
Still, the choice should be a clear one; this is a Hokie conference. The ACC may be down, and the historical powers of the conference may be gone for good, but Virginia Tech is perfectly fine with that.
They’re looking to make some history of their own.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.