Joe Ovies

Help us, Dabo-wan Kenobi, you're our only hope

Posted July 23, 2013

"I think it's fair to say that this is the strongest collection of basketball programs that has ever been assembled in one conference." -- ACC Commissioner John Swofford

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff, where basketball can't help but sneak into the proceedings.

Swofford's proclamation wasn't off-base, but it was interesting to hear in the 15-minute opening monologue of the commissioner's state of the conference forum on Sunday. This media event is designed to highlight the upcoming football season, driven home by the not-so-subtle lining of football helmets across the podium, slick dinner presentations touting television footprints and bowl representatives wandering the Grandover Resort hallways. 

The issue with football is that Swofford can't make the same bold statement. The conference has pedigree basketball programs that have recently produced Final Four appearances and won championships. An ACC football team hasn't appeared in the BCS Championship Game since Florida State in the 2000 season. 

With Louisville joining the conference in 2014 and Notre Dame only on board for five games a season, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were tasked with providing the sizzle. It just isn't there. Sure, both teams played in bowl games last season, but each squad was projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective divisions next year.

Swofford continues to be optimistic about football and believes the ACC has "unlimited potential." That potential will be tested in the opening weeks when Virginia Tech takes on projected top-ranked Alabama in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, Clemson hosts Georgia, Miami rekindles their rivalry against Florida and North Carolina travels to South Carolina. It's unrealistic to demand an unblemished record for the ACC in those key contests against the SEC, but the conference must be able to mount a few opposing mascot heads on the wall to earn the credibility they so desire.

Most pressure lays at the feet of Dabo Swinney and his Tigers, with the great expectation they'll build off an 11-2 season that closed with a come-from-behind victory over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. They bring back the majority of their top-rated offense, including four starters on the offensive line and Heisman hopeful quarterback Tajh Boyd. 

The only issues holding Clemson back are the defense, which pundits considered average at best last season, and the brutal schedule. The expectation would be to see the defense improve in the second year under coordinator Brent Venables. The schedule actually provides an edge if the Tigers take advantage.

Clemson can quiet the SEC honks during the annual season ending debate about who belongs in the national championship game with wins over two of their own squads. Defeating Georgia sets the table, topping South Carolina at the end seals the deal. Even if the Tigers dropped their October 19th contest against Florida State, having the one loss while defeating a couple top rated SEC teams puts Clemson in excellent position for the BCS standings. 

It's all hypothetical and only adds to the hype, which is why Swinney told anyone who would listen in Greensboro that he's not concerned about any of the predictions and has done his best to instill that mindset into his team. He'd prefer we all wait until November, when everyone can discuss the reality of whether or not Clemson is in the mix.

But the Death Star is looming, Swinney. Clemson is the best equipped to take it down.


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  • VT1994Hokie Jul 24, 2013

    Swofford should have saved his basketball speech until he talked a little about football firstly. I couldn't care less about Cuse and ND. They won't last long.

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 24, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Baseball isn't a money making sport. The big guys don't recognize anything other than football and basketball.

  • cjw6105 Jul 23, 2013

    ACC football, if anything, is as bad as its ever been. Our BCS record is dismal, and we managed only our 3rd BCS bowl win this past season when FSU struggled to beat Northern Illinois. In 1997, a year mentioned earlier, at least FSU was consistently in the top 5 nationally. Now, we don't have a legit top ten program anymore, despite adding the likes of Miami. VT and Clemson are solid top 20 programs, but FSU certainly is not much better if any better than the Tigers and Hokies.

    Adding Big East teams made no sense from a football standpoint. The BE was a horrible football league, with only two quality programs, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. WVU would have been a great fit, but no, we had to put our footprint in Boston, a town that cares as much for college sports as the Triangle cares about pro sports. Virginia legislators, not Swofford, got the Gobblers into the ACC, and bringing Miami into the ACC will be long regretted by most ACC fans. The Hurricanes will remain a bigger threat for probation than they will be for a major bowl.

    The latest round of expansion is even worse from a football standpoint. Syracuse and Pitt add nothing to our football credibility, and Notre Dame adds even less as a conference member who wants to share ACC wealth, but the Irish were smart enough to realize that ACC football offered nothing. I'd love to know what many Irish fans feel about seeing teams like Michigan, Michigan State and either Purdue or Indiana being booted from their schedule to make room for Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Duke, NCSU and Virginia.

    Louisville would have made sense if they were becoming our 10th team next year instead of our 14th. I think an ACC with the Big Four, FSU, GT, Clemson, VT, UVA and Louisville would've been much better than what we have now, which is a far-flung patchwork of East Coast schools who have made their historical mark in basketball. The Northeast has always been about pro sports; why can't ACC officials understand this?

  • NCCaniac Jul 23, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Why would the SEC strip down the ACC to go to 16 teams if ACC football is so terrible? ;-)

    Seriously, though, the new agreement for ACC schools makes it almost financially impossible for teams to leave the ACC. That is the big thing that Swofford accomplished this last year.

  • StunGunn Jul 23, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Good points, sir, and I appreciate your honest sports talk sans smack. I've enjoyed reading your posts - very refreshing.

  • Barely Jul 23, 2013

    View quoted thread

    It probably won't matter when the SEC strips down the ACC for teams to go to 16.

  • jmcdow2792 Jul 23, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Your view point is certainly a valid one. I prefer to think we could have a strong conference in both basketball and football. It may take a while to get there. Look at the Big 10 (12, 14?) and the PAC 10 (whatever). They have for a long time managed to have national powers in both sports. I went to Wake Forest and Clemson many years ago to football games. When I went back 4 years ago I could recognize Wake Forest. Clemson was a whole different thing. It was nothing like I remembered. The stadium and the 75K to 80K (I am giving State credit for 5K) or more Clemson fans were unreal. That's what I mean by facilities. The bigger the fan base the better and it's hard to have fans without seats. I went to the very first game at Carter Finley. The Raleigh N&O had a piece that basically said that CF would never be filled to capacity and would never pay off the 50 year loan. It was filled at an ECU game in the mid 1970's and was paid off long before the 50 years. I still maintain that now is the time for change if teams want to be contenders. Some may and some may not. For example, I don't see Duke or Wake as being in position to make that kind of move, but then Miami has done it.

  • sburks1906 Jul 23, 2013

    The best way for the ACC to prove it belongs is to beat the big boys of college football - the SEC. Yeah the ACC could have taken the easy route a la B1G teams vs. the MAC. I can't blame the ACC for trying. #GoACC!

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 23, 2013

    View quoted thread

    + 1. Good job.

  • baldchip Jul 23, 2013

    No one has mentioned about the strength of the ACC in BASEBALL! We had 4 teams in the top 16, and 2 in the final 8 in Omaha. WE hosted 2 super regionals. That's pretty strong for a basketball conference. And State looks like they will be even stronger next year with 2 big stars and many starters returning.

    Yes, no doubt, the ACC is a basketball conference for men and women. Every move seems to be to strenthen football, and with Pitt, ND, and Syracuse, we added basketball as well-both men and women.

    We can spend and add, spend and add, but, we will always be a basketball conference
    in the light of the world. ACC hoops-forever. Best in the world!! Practice starts October 15th-less than 3 months from now!!




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