If ACC wants to get noticed, it needs to step up against SEC

National publications tend to take notice of major conference collisions.

National publications take notice of major conference collisions. This one followed Alabama's win over Clemson.

It’s the start of college football season. Is this when the SEC big foots everybody again? Is this when the ACC screams from the Chapel Hill-tops that the conference went 6-4 against Cyclops in the regular season last year, yet continues to get ignored because – well, what happened at the end again?

We remember the first Saturday meeting of the conferences: Alabama 34, Clemson 10.

We remember the final bowl meeting of the conferences: LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3.

Single games don’t project entire seasons. But Virginia Tech plays Alabama Saturday at the Georgia Dome, and this would be a good time for an ACC school to do more than just clear its throat.

“I don’t necessarily think the game should be painted as the ACC’s chance to save face,” said Todd Blackledge, a closer observer of both conferences but an outsider as a former Penn State quarterback living in Ohio. “But I do think the ACC is better positioned to represent the ACC in this game than it was last year.”

That said, he added: “Right now the SEC is the best league in the country, and not by just a little. I know one thing the ACC has been trumpeting is having the most teams in post-season bowl games last year. They have balance and parity. But everybody is chasing the SEC, and it’s been that way for a few years. I don’t expect it to be any different this season.”

The ACC’s expansion to include Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004 and Boston College in 2005 strengthened the conference, but not nearly to the degree most expected. The decline of the Miami and Florida State programs have prevented the annual marquee ACC championship match-up conference officials had hoped for. Certainly, expansion has had zero impact on the national title picture.

It's possible that was ACC commissioner John Swofford inside the Tiger suit at the Georgia Dome last year. (Ben Gray/bgray@ajc.com)

For perception alone, the ACC needs this game. It’s a high-profile game – yes, higher profile than Duke’s win over Vandy last year. Even Georgia Tech, for how well the program did under Paul Johnson in year one and altered perceptions with its victory at Georgia, undid some of that progress with its showing against LSU, another SEC school, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

We remember big games. We remember bowl games. The ACC sent 10 schools to bowls last year. That was more than any other conference. But it went only 4-6 in those games, and the bowl with the most cachet was Virginia Tech’s 20-7 yawner over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.

The Hokies finished with the highest ranking of any ACC school – only 15th.

The SEC was in eight bowl games. It went 6-2. Florida won another BCS title. The last three national champions and four of the last six have come from the SEC (Florida, LSU). The ACC hasn’t so much as had a team in the title game since 2000 (Florida State lost to Oklahoma).

Here’s the definition of bad timing: Miami won the national championship in 2001 and lost in the title game in 2002. But it was as a Big East school. The Hurricanes’ slide coincided with their move to the ACC in 2004 (9-3, 9-3, 7-6, 5-7, 7-6).

Tech’s Johnson often has spoken about fans and media overlooking the ACC’s competitiveness head-to-head with the SEC (6-6 including bowls last year, 9-12 in the last two). But few share his balance-of-power view.

“I think there’s some merit to what Paul is saying,” said Blackledge, a former quarterback who won a national championship at Penn State and now is an ESPN broadcaster. “But Florida has won a couple of championships. LSU has won. The SEC is playing for championships. When they’re in the post-season they do well. You come away with a feeling of their overall strength.”

Virginia Tech should be able to hang with Alabama. Meanwhile, Clemson took a safe step down. It’s opening against Middle Tennessee State.

155 comments Add your comment

macrotech

August 30th, 2009
3:19 pm

Tis time for the ACC to step up!!! IT”S GONNA BE A GREAT SEASON!!! GO TECH!!!

merbertmoover

August 30th, 2009
3:28 pm

bama gonna smoke them hokies like my mama smokes virginia slims, know what im sayin? uga gonna dance all over them cowboys like a nun doin the tootsie roll, you know what im sayin? mmmhmmm gonna be fun! cmon saturday get here already!!!!

Let's Get It Out of the Way

August 30th, 2009
3:55 pm

((((((45-42)))))) ha ha ha
((((((38-3))))))) ha ha ha

Who is GT??

August 30th, 2009
4:26 pm

Gt and the acc are……IRRLEVANT!!

Bryan G.

August 30th, 2009
4:28 pm

I think Alabama may be getting overrated a bit coming into this year. I like Va Tech and the points. You can use that for weekend predictions this week, Jeff. Oh, and take UGA and the points. There, take the rest of the week off Jeff.

reebok

August 30th, 2009
4:37 pm

Don’t forget, the ACC has a chance to win against the SEC on Thursday nite…NC State has a good chance to beat S Carolina. That wouldn’t be nearly as good for the ACC as V-Tech beating Bama, but it would be a good start…btw, the SEC and ACC play 7 regular-season games this year, and Georgia Tech is the ACC representative in 3 of them…

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
4:46 pm

Bama will destroy Va Tech.This game will be as big a joke as Clemson last year.Remember,the ACC earned that .182 winning per in BCS games by stinking up the joint when they have to play real teams.

Terry

August 30th, 2009
4:54 pm

The ACC is every bit as good as the sec if they didn’t have UF. The acc needs a team or two to step up and represent it. Hopefully it will be GT. FSU and Miami will be back some day. There’s too much talent in that state for them to not get back on track eventually. Then all the talk will turn to how pathetic the pac and big 10 are.

Brad

August 30th, 2009
5:02 pm

Jeff
If you swapped Fsu with UF, the talking heads would be saying the ACC is the best. Like you pointed out, the games have been close. FSU has lost 5, i think, in a row to UF. If va tech wins next week and gt beats ga, and say the acc goes 5-2, but uf wins the NC again, they will still say the sec is the best cause of the gators. So the sec should be thankful they have that school. Swap fsu and uf and the acc gets all the accolades.

Old Gold

August 30th, 2009
5:13 pm

The mindset of SEC vs ACC is indeed skewed –by both fans and media. Tha ACC had done fine against the SEC for many years –but for some reason writers don’t want to express that point. Instead, they go down this road.

45ACP

August 30th, 2009
5:15 pm

Jeff why did you have to bring up Todd Blackledge.
1982 Sugar Bowl loss to Penn State after a perfect season.
The horror, the horror…

Jeff Schultz

August 30th, 2009
5:37 pm

Brian G — can you write a note that I can bring to my editors asking for the week off. That would be great.

StraightJacket

August 30th, 2009
5:39 pm

The ACC’s weakness in recent years has been one simple thing: QB play. Don’t take my word for it. Look at who the NFL drafts and you’ll see that the ACC has had plenty of talent. Unfortunately, you can’t compete for championships if you don’t have QB play. The SEC has had it; the ACC has not.

This year, the ACC has tons of QB’s back, and will be significantly better. As always, the top half of the SEC will be great, but hey … when you’re a great team and get “gimme” wins against MSU, Kentucky, and near “gimmes” with “great SEC teams” like Auburn, USC, etc,… well, …. it is easier to get prepped and rested for the “big” games when you can put your scrubs in the game in the 2nd quarter without risking injury of players or loss of the betting spread.

In contrast, the ACC is more competitive at the bottom. The Duke – Vandy thing certainly isn’t a game anybody pays attention to, but the point is that ACC teams have to show up for the weak sisters whereas LSU could have beaten MSU with their 3rd string … while wearing blindfolds.

This year, ‘Bama may beat VPI&SU, but … both teams have great defenses. I called the Bama-Clemson debacle last year because Clemson’s OL was awful. This year, VPI&SU won’t score much – if any – against ‘Bama, but ‘Bama won’t score much either. Low scoring game, but I’m not sure I’d measure the ACC & SEC based on one game. Let’s see what happens when USC plays NCSU, GT plays Ugag, MSU, and Vandy, and a few other interesting games. Yes, UF will destroy FSU, but then again: UF will destory lots of teams this year.

Look for the ACC to be better than the Big 10, the Pac 10 and on par with the Big 12 (because of MUCH better teams in the bottom half of the conference), but the Top of the SEC will outclass others … and save the reputation of their bottom feeders … who give the leaders nothing more than “scrimmage time” during the regular season.

-SJ

Tech Fan Since 1950

August 30th, 2009
5:40 pm

Admittedly, perception is reality when it comes to most sportswriters, sportscasters and certain fans. From the 1960’s until the late 1980’s I would get upset with the SEC for its scheduling. Many of the top teams within the SEC would rarely play each other on a regular basis and generally had weak out of conference schedules. Give Bama, Tennessee and Auburn credit for later scheduling Southern Cal, UCLA, etc. and give Georgia credit in recent years for facing Colorado, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, etc. The creation of the two divisions within the SEC is certainly a better format now, especially with the SEC Conference Championship game in Atlanta which has become such an attractive promotional effort for the SEC. BUT, that should not be a knock against the ACC, which top to bottom in recent years, has become a much more competitive conference. Because the ACC schools have beaten up on each other the last two years the records do not fully show the strength of the ACC. You just have to go with the facts at hand. In head to head competition during the regular season last year the ACC had a better record than the SEC. As Jeff suggests, it just seems like so much perception is based on the first games of the season and the bowl games. Now if N.C. State beats South Carolina Thursday night and Virginia Tech wiins against Bama, I hope the sportswriters and sportscasters will make note. It will not mean the ACC is better than the SEC, but it will mean the ACC is just as competitive with the SEC as it is within its own conference. At least for a weekend! Wow! College football season is just days away and folks in Atlanta are blessed to be in the center of the AC/SE conferences. Go Jackets! and all your favorite teams.

john

August 30th, 2009
5:50 pm

If UGA and GT swapped places, UGA would win the ACC every year and GT would scrape the SEC basement.

Sonny Clusters

August 30th, 2009
5:57 pm

We was reading where Georgia Tech used to be in the SEC and had a coach named Bobby Dodd and they used to beat Georgia pretty bad. They was playing in the SEC until somebody from there hurt one of their players real bad and then the coaches couldn’t get along and Bobby Dodd decided they could make more money playing independent. That was a mistake. We don’t know if they was smart or dumb back then but they seemed to be able to beat Georgia when they was in the same conference. We was thinking Clemson is a thinking man’s school. Some great journalists come out of there.

Sonny Clusters

August 30th, 2009
6:00 pm

We was asked to try and get some shrimp up to the press box again when the Braves get back in town. Jeff, could you get your old pal Sonny Clusters past security and maybe we could share some shrimp and some of that cheese they have in the press box for the sportswriters? If you can do that we can tell you some more stuff that will be bigger than that lucky underwear story you wrote.

Andy

August 30th, 2009
6:01 pm

john you are a typical delusional uga moron. you LOST last year at HOME. GT blew out your basement team. they will go 3-0 this year against the sec. and you’ll still be saying the same bs. yeah sure you’d beat fsu miami vt gt, unc every year. so damn arrogant and cocky u idiots are.

m

August 30th, 2009
6:18 pm

Georgia Tech is the only team in the country to have the confidence to schedule 3 teams from the mighty sec. Wanna bet that Tech wins all three??

And the reason is that Thanks to God and Greyhound the worst coach in the history of the free world, chan gomer gailey, is gone forever. He destroyed Tech football for 6 long years and he was propped us by websites like the Hive that tolerated his mediocrity. Anyone that ever supported or defended chan gomer gailey sucks just as bad as he does.

Paul Johnson is the new sheriff in town…and the ACC (and three from the sec) better be ready.

Geoff

August 30th, 2009
6:19 pm

Andy–All you have to do is look at the pouding uga takes from uf every year and then look at how fsu plays them. About the same. If uga were in the SEC, they would be equivalent as FSU has the past 7-8 years with a couple of ACC titles. UGA and FSU are very similar especially since MR came from FSU. When they played a few years ago, it was a close game.

Geoff

August 30th, 2009
6:28 pm

Should read if uga were in the ACC and also..pounding.

Reality

August 30th, 2009
6:29 pm

If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
6:35 pm

.182 says it all,Mountain West would clean your clock.
Worst winning per in NCAA football BCS games

YouGottaBeKiddin

August 30th, 2009
6:38 pm

Terry

August 30th, 2009
4:54 pm

The ACC is every bit as good as the sec if they didn’t have UF. The acc needs a team or two to step up and represent it. Hopefully it will be GT. FSU and Miami will be back some day. There’s too much talent in that state for them to not get back on track eventually. Then all the talk will turn to how pathetic the pac and big 10 are.

I guess that’s why you’re 2-9 in BCS bowls huh Einstein?

GM

August 30th, 2009
6:47 pm

Never Ever

August 30th, 2009
7:02 pm

That said, he added: “Right now the SEC is the best league in the country, and not by just a little.
What part of “not by just a little” don’t you Tech folks get?

southgadawg88

August 30th, 2009
7:05 pm

Some of you guys are a bit delusional in comparing the SEC and ACC.Look at it this way….there is not one team in the ACC that would be favored to win any division in the SEC..honestly I can’t say any team would be picked as high as third.On the other hand the SEC has at least 5 teams that would be favored to win at least one division in the ACC.That’s the difference between two leagues.The top teams in the SEC are constantly in the top 10 in recruiting and have the big time coaches to work with that talent.That gap will stay there until the ACC schools step up in recruiting. An individual game can be decided by limitless scenarios… but if you lined em up ten times the talent would win the majority.Winning games against the bottom half of any league is not much to point to as an example of strength.One day Mia and FSU will rebound and start taking back the cream of the FLA recruit crop from the Gators and if Clemson,GT,VT,NC ?…somebody…can get in the top 10 consistently the ACC will be a serious player.

pass 60% fan

August 30th, 2009
7:10 pm

DCTide

August 30th, 2009
7:14 pm

Saban has the mighty Crimson Tide at two deep in pretty much every position, offense & defense. Greg McElroy, or GMac as we call him, is going to break some passing records this year with an arm that has been compared to Eli and Peyton’s at their camp in LA this summer. That’s scary, especially when man-child, Julio Jones, will be his primary target. Julio can stiff arm an SEC LB and get away with it.

One word for the Alabama defense in 09: Stifling. They will probably be better than LSU’s defense under Saban in 2003’s national championship. Saban’s program is already at full stride, and he’s a master motivator, like him or not.

It’s funny that few people (especially here in UGA country) are taking BAMA seriously this year. After a beat down is placed on VA Tech at the Dome on Saturday, there will be renewed respect for the school Jeff once referred to as TCI. The Tide was three downs from beating Florida and marching to the national championship last season. Tebow won that game for UF.

Saban’s not going to let that happen again.

I just wish there was going to be another BLACKOUT this season. ROLL TIDE.

Gravy Train

August 30th, 2009
7:15 pm

Here come the long winded, no sense of reality, ACC backers. There are high school games that have more action and build up than most ACC games.
Fact: If UGA were in any other conference they would be at the top every season.
It’s simple. The best players and coaches in America come to the SEC. No other conference can compete with that. The SEC fans and rivalries are the most passionate of all the land. The SEC schools also happen to have the best looking co-eds.
Why else would ESPN/ABC sell their souls for exclusive coverage of the SEC? Because the SEC is the best of all by far, top to bottom.
Florida is so good because they are built to survive the SEC. They should thank the 11 other teams.

GeoffDawg

August 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

I like guys!

GeoffDawg

August 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

Enter your comments here

TR

August 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

Swofford inside the Tiger suit? lol…morons.

Mitch Cumstein

August 30th, 2009
7:31 pm

You star techies are pathetic. Win one out of 8 and you’re all of a sudden “as good as any SEC team”, or “take Fla out of the SEC and put ‘em in the acc and all the accolades go to the acc”. Simply moronic. Selective memory huh? Name an acc team that could catty the jock of Auburn or Tennessee or Ol’ Miss……. Bueller, any one out there?

hop

August 30th, 2009
7:32 pm

year in and year out the SEC has the most teams in the top twenty and that determines more than anything the strength of the conference and winning 3 of four national championships is not too shappy either.
wake beating vandy does not mean much either,but vandy did beat boston college which is a amazing since bc is one of acc’s major schools!

yes tech beat georgia last year so now they are 1 out of eight.

impressive!

satchelbuzz

August 30th, 2009
7:33 pm

The CFA Bowl was a lesson learned by a very young football team. Were about to take care of the issue you raise in this article,….you have all been warned.

THWG!

Mitch Cumstein

August 30th, 2009
7:35 pm

make that “carry”t he jock

Terry

August 30th, 2009
7:36 pm

The acc would be good too if they got to play the big 10 in half their bcs bowls. Sorry but you can’t say hey your conference is bad from one game each season. I like how you ignore the facts. ACC wins last year of importance. GT over UGA. Wake over Ole miss. ACC losses of importance. Bama over a sorry clempson team. Fla over FSU like they were over every sec team..oh except ole miss that Wake beat. Like I said, take out Fla and reverse them with FSU and all the talk is the acc being the best now. So thank UF dawg fans for your conf superiority. Must suck to have to do that. It’ll be fun watching the ACC get off to a 2-0 start next weeked. Then all the talk will still revolve around nat titles, which proves my point that fla makes the sec the best.

GT GRAD

August 30th, 2009
7:37 pm

SEC is obviously top heavy and the bottom half of the SEC is VERY over-rated.

If Florida was in the ACC and FSU were in the SEC, the ACC would obviously be considered the most dominant conference in America. Only ignorant people would disagree with this notion. Yes, I am saying that many of the SEC “die-hard fans” are so blind to facts that they are ignorant. By the way, the definition of ignorant is: lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact!

With Florida in the ACC, the poll voters and media would vote the remaining 11 ACC teams higher in the polls and talk about the teams like they are better than they really are (as they do each & every year with the SEC) and this would lead to so many advantages. Advantages in recruiting, poll position after losses, ability to play MUCH softer schedules (without any negative impact, because the entire conference seems better than they really are), selection in top BCS games, intimidation of lesser teams, player confidence duirng tight games, referee’s calls on the field of play, etc.

The polls and media do the exact oposite with the ACC; this is why so many ACC fans get irritated with the media coverage. There is a huge advantage if your teams are ranked in the Top 15 during the preseason. SEC teams (average of all 12) typically finish lower after the games are played while the ACC teams (average of all 12) typically finish higher after the games are played. This is why I consistently state that the SEC conference is OVER-RATED!

The ACC teams need to win more games (especially bowl games) to change the tide. It is coming, but the media is slow to admit when they are wrong and will try to inflate the SEC as they have for years. The ACC has a solid bowl record for the past 6 years prior to last year……..oh well, just one more hurdle.

If UGA was in the ACC, they would be about the same spot in the pecking order as they are in the SEC. They would probably lose more conference games because the bottom half of the ACC is better than the bottom half of the SEC. Look at the results UGA has against South Carolina, Vandy & Kentucky and you might realize I am correct!! One more point, UGA would be forced to play a tougher out-of-conference schedule to get recognized by the national media because all of the ACC teams are not over-rated like the bottom 7-8 SEC teams! (I am laughing because I sound like a freak’n broken record……..heh heh heh).

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
7:48 pm

Never Ever

August 30th, 2009
7:48 pm

The only place the Tide is going is down the drain. You might be stronger than dirt but it’s a new age and Oxy-Clean has replaced you.
Just ask Billy Mays.

Jeff Schultz

August 30th, 2009
7:50 pm

DC Tide — The Alabama defense will be great again. But I’m not so sure about the offense.

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
7:53 pm

Bama will crush acc’s highest ranked team.
Dawgs are going to wipe the floor with OSU’s rearends.
SEC makes a statment on the 5th.
OSU same song differant year,acc still stinks.

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
7:54 pm

Billy’s dead dude

Camden Mark

August 30th, 2009
7:56 pm

If frogs had wings they would fly

Never Ever

August 30th, 2009
8:00 pm

ifs and buts were candy and nuts everyday would be Christmas.
We all live on Candy Cane Lane.
Get over it ACC. You KNOW and I KNOW and everybody else KNOWS the SEC is the best. It’s not even debatable. Who are you trying to convince?
Apparently yourself.

Never Ever

August 30th, 2009
8:01 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot.
RIP Billy.

GT

August 30th, 2009
8:12 pm

It is more fun to make the SEC look like God and then watch these man made statues tumble. I think Jeff just added 7 point on the Va. Tech scoreboard. Maybe Jeff needs the added readership, and he will get it as this article will certain be hung in the locker room bulletin board. Va. Tech does not play like Clemson last year, they get up for the big ones and may get bored with a NC State or one of the lesser ones. One team they played a couple of years ago took them to the barn, Southern Cal, and they open every year like that, I’m not sure Alabama has that kind of punch.

Terry

August 30th, 2009
8:19 pm

No one is saying the sec isn;t the best. Just saying the acc doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The regular season is the best way to measure a conference. Not one bowl game. Earlier this decade when gt played auburn home and away, gt won both games. Ga beat gt but ga also lost at least one of those games to auburn. If ga was in the acc, they would do about the same as fla state has this decade. You can’t argue with facts. There were 10 games in the reg season last year with the sec and acc. 5 of those games were games with teams from the top of each conf. the acc went 2-3 in those games. hardly dominance. the other games involved middle of the pack and bottom dwellers and the acc went 4-1 in those games which proves the acc middle to bottom is stronger than the sec middle to bottom. take out uf and the sec is where the acc is. it really is that simple. timing is also an issue. fsu and miami dominated cf from the late 80’s to early 2000’s. if those teams were playing like they were during that era, the acc would be looked at as the best. but that hasn’t been the case. trends emerge and then they come back. teams go through down periods and then have strong periods. ga is much better than they were in the 90’s. nebraska along with miami and fsu dominated the 90s and have stunk this decade. like i said, trends reverse. soon enough there will be another strong run by some acc teams and they will go back and forth with the sec for conf dominance. bottom line is the best football players come from the South. we can all agree on that. eventually that will show up in teams like um, fsu, gt, vt and unc. remember unc had bly and peppers and were a top 5 team in the late 90’s but had to face a tough fsu team and lost. the acc does get players. philip rivers from nc state along with torry holt. all that’s missing is a team mentioned above to have a break out season. it’s gonna happen within 2-3 years.

Terry

August 30th, 2009
8:20 pm

hop wake beat ole miss. which beat fla. get your facts right.