Note: I was on 850 The Buzz with Joe Ovies on Monday morning (8 to 10 a.m.) to talk ACC football. Here's the pre-preseason preview, moved over from the previous blog software, and bundled by division, for your convenience.
On N.C. State
If you thought the ACC was bad last year, or the year before, or the year before ... brace yourself for 2008. The conference could be even worse, if that's possible.
Attrition, either through the NFL Draft, graduation or suspensions, has hit the division champs, Boston College and Virginia Tech, hard.
Traditional powers Miami and Florida State, who went a combined 12-13 in 2007, are no longer reloading but out-and-out rebuilding. FSU is doing so with the handicap of an academic scandal.
The ACC, and Coastal Division in particular, is so bad that Duke could equal its combined win total since 2004 before October ends.
But Duke, as the worst team in Division I-A football, is only a fraction of the ACC's image problem. The ACC's biggest problem since expanding in 2004 has been the lack of an elite, national-title caliber program. When FSU owned the ACC in the 1990s, they were a top-5 team every year and twice the national champion (1993 and 1999).
The ACC hasn't won its BCS bowl since the Noles beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl for the '99 title.
FSU was supposed bring the rest of the ACC up to its level. Instead the ACC has sucked the Seminoles into an vortex of mediocrity — they are 31-20 since expansion, closer to South Florida (28-21) than Southern California (47-5).
Miami, who started the decade 46-4 as a Big East member, couldn't
escape the ACC's stink either. The Canes are 30-19 in four ACC seasons and are below .500 (12-13) the past two.
The only team to rise above — or perhaps because it has been able to beat up the ACC — is Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 42-11 since joining the conference. Even the conference champs need heavy doses of plaster this offseason after losing eight players to the NFL Draft and leading rusher Branden Ore, who was kicked off the team.
Even with the significant personnel losses, Virginia Tech will be the unanimous preseason choice to win the pathetic Coastal, whose laundry-list of problems include:
• Virginia: Whatever games spectacular defensive end Chris Long, the second overall pick in the draft, didn't win by himself, quarterback Jameel Sewell did. Long's gone and Sewell's academically ineligible, as is end Jeffrey Fitzgerald and corner Chris Cook.
• Georgia Tech: Chan Gailey's out, Paul Johnson's in. Johnson's option offense could work but he's missing Tashard Choice, the ACC's leading rusher.
• Miami: Randy Shannon went 5-7 in his first season, with an inexcusable 2-6 against the ACC (and one of those wins over Duke).
• UNC: The only program of the six who could be considered on the upswing but quarterback T.J. Yates missed spring practice and there's still Tyler Hansbrough-sized holes on defense.
• Duke: Who's still Duke, despite new coach David Cutcliffe. The same Duke that has won four games since 2004.
In short, the ACC is going backwards in its fifth post-expansion
football season. The opposite direction of where the power move was supposed to take the so-called basketball conference.