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ACC Looks for Respect in 2010
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #440, July 9, 2010
Every year we watch the talking heads on television argue over which conference is the best. Most of the time they land on the SEC, with the Big Ten also part of the conversation.
The ACC hit an all-time low point in 2008, but was much improved in 2009. Things are expected to improve even more in 2010. How does the league stack up to the rest of college football, at least according to the preseason rankings? Here's a quick comparison, courtesy of Lindy's preseason preview magazine.
First, a quick explanation of the categories. "Highest rank" means the ranking of the top team in the conference. Top 10 teams is self explanatory ... the number of preseason top 10 teams in the conference. "Below 50" means the number of teams ranked below 50th nationally, and the "average rank" is, well, the average rank of each team in the conference.
The ACC finds itself on about the same level as the Pac-10. The Hokies are the only Top 10 team out of the ACC, while the Pac-10 has no top 10 teams. However, just 20% of the Pac-10 is ranked outside the top 50, while just 33% of the ACC is ranked lower than 50. Both leagues are very strong in the middle, with very few poor teams.
The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 are regarded as the top leagues each year because they generally have multiple National Championship contenders, and multiple Top 10 teams. The SEC has Florida, Alabama and LSU, the Big 12 has Texas and Oklahoma, while the Big 10 has Ohio State, with Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa capable of moonlighting in the Top 10 as well.
The rest of the conferences don't have a dominating team at the top, and that's why they are viewed in a lower light. The ACC desperately needs Florida State, Miami and Clemson to get better and join the Hokies at the top of the league. If their four biggest names can develop good, consistent programs, then the ACC can be a very strong conference.
The Pac-10 is hurting right now, because USC has fallen off a bit. However, they are still a very strong league in the middle. With the Trojans on probation, it should be a fun race to the Rose Bowl this season.
The Big East only has eight teams, and three of them rank outside the Top 50. They have no legit Top 10 team, and they desperately need West Virginia to get back to the Pat White Era level.
The good news for the ACC is that despite having just one preseason Top 10 team, they've got several other teams who should start the season in the preseason Top 25. North Carolina, Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech could all be in the Top 25 at the beginning of the season, and it's certainly possible that a couple of those teams could find themselves in the Top 10 at the end of the season.
If the ACC can get two teams into the Top 10 in January, as well as be in contention for an at-large berth to the BCS for the first time in league history, they would take a big step forward. They would begin to improve their national perception.
Winning big games in non-conference play will also help. Here are some key dates to keep an eye on.
Those are nine key games featuring the best teams in the ACC against Top 25 caliber opponents from other conferences. The ACC has some big games in the month of September, and wins against big time programs such as LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma could go a long way in repairing the reputation of the conference.
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