Data from the NCAA suggests the ACC has the "student" part down in the "student-athlete" equation. The conference does a better job graduating its players than its Bowl Championship Series brethren.
On the field, success in the BCS bowls has been elusive and if not for the additions of Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College, the ACC would lag behind its BCS brethren in winning percentage from 1998 to 2007 (the same time range as the graduation data).
But in the aggregate list of the graduation rates and winnning percentage for all 66 BCS teams, the ACC fares the best among the BCS conferences.
So the ACC can win, but is it collectively too smart to win big?
John Swofford says no, so does Tom O'Brien, Jim Grobe and Frank Beamer. Most ACC coaches were willing to talk about the ACC's academic success, but not the deficiencies of the other BCS conferences, namely the SEC.
Swofford, for his part, went out of his way to make a point that being "smart" is not an excuse for the ACC's BCS bowl record (1-9) or the ACC's absence from the BCS title picture.
"Believe me, I want us to succeed there, too," Swofford said.
The ACC leaders won't take a swipe at the SEC, considered the best on-field conference, or the Big 12, which has the No. 1 team in the country, but it doesn't take a statistical analyst to note the correlation between the top of the winning percentage list and the bottom of the GSR list — see Texas, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma.