Back in December, and again earlier this summer, I argued that the ACC had a chance to be the toughest conference in the country this season. I figured after a wildly competitive season in which 10 of 12 schools finished within a game of first place, this would be the year at least two or three of those teams would rise above the pack and achieve national prominence.
It seemed so logical ... until the injury bug hit.
With the season-ending ACL tear to Virginia Tech running back
That said, I wouldn't rule out a different sort of milestone year for this wannabe-known-for-more-than-basketball conference.
In the BCS' 11-year existence, the ACC has never managed to earn a second berth -- crazy, right? -- but I believe that drought will end this year or next.
For the first time since 2005 -- the first year of the 12-team ACC and the year before the bottom fell out for longtime powers Florida State and Miami -- the ACC features multiple BCS contenders. For me, it's a toss-up between Virginia Tech (minus Evans) and Georgia Tech for league favorite, but they're hardly alone. North Carolina coach
It's not inconceivable the league could produce a top 10 champion
For one thing, you've got to figure the SEC and Big 12 will once again claim two of the four at-large berths. And recent history suggests at least one non-BCS team will probably guarantee itself a berth as well. In that event, the ACC's entrant would likely be competing with the Big Ten, Pac-10 and possibly Notre Dame for that last spot.
Then there's the matter of which bowl is picking, and which ACC team is available. If the champion doesn't move up to the title game, then the Orange Bowl is out of the picture, and the Sugar Bowl becomes the most likely destination. Virginia Tech and Clemson are the only ACC teams with the type of traveling horde that would merit consideration out West. Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and N.C. State would draw interest in New Orleans. Miami would be hurt by its poor bowl travel history.
After a pretty ugly down cycle the past few years, the ACC seems poised to finally reach the level of prominence its proponents have been waiting for. Most of the aforementioned programs still have room to grow, and, for the first time since the days of
All in all, ACC football should finally be watchable!
It wouldn't be unprecedented, but it could very well be the first time in 15 years.
Don't quote me on that, but my buddy and I actually spent some time a few days ago trying to remember someone else, and then I pored through preseason rankings from the past 15 years. As best I can tell, the last true freshman to start from the very first game for a top five team was
Mind you, this does not include guys who started for an eventual top five team, or took over mid-season.
As is often the case, I'm sure a Mailbag reader will correct me in time for next week's edition if someone's done it more recently than Powlus.
You know, as much as I try to stay plugged in to the pulse of as many fan bases as possible, I must confess, I had no idea the level of angst surrounding Bielema until I did a radio interview in Milwaukee last week. Based on the hosts' questions, it seems many people have already lost faith in
Personally, I think it's dangerous to read too much into one bad season. Yes, the Badgers' win total has declined in each of Bielema's three seasons, but after starting 12-1 out of the gate, that seemed somewhat inevitable. His 9-4 campaign the following season -- which ended in a hard-fought Outback Bowl loss to Tennessee -- was a far more reasonable standard for what to expect from a Wisconsin coach. But there's no question the Badgers tumbled well below that last season, going 3-5 in the Big Ten, losing to a Michigan team and getting thumped by Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
So the question is, was last year an aberration, or a harbinger of things to come? A lack of consistency at quarterback was a big part of Wisconsin's problems last year. While most of us will always associate Alvarez with powerful runners, he also quietly produced one underrated quarterback after another -- guys like
But that's not the most troubling thing going on right now. Over the weekend, it came out the parents of two recently suspended Wisconsin safeties,
Man, how could I forget? Your first batch of 2009 ninth-year seniors include (but are not necessarily limited to): Wake Forest quarterback
As for the worst-coaches list, sorry, almost all of my bad coaches got fired last year. I guess
If schools focused solely on the national-title race when determining their schedules, you'd never see a single marquee out-of-conference game for the very reason you mentioned: Historically, going undefeated has always been the single most important criteria in voters' minds. You saw that last year, when Texas Tech rose to No. 2 in the polls despite playing Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU and UMass prior to Big 12 play.
Every school has its own reasons behind its scheduling philosophy, but until the day the voters/computers bypass an undefeated major-conference team in favor of two one-loss teams, you'll probably see fewer and fewer teams take on schedules like Virginia Tech's and Georgia's. That said, we also seem to be in the midst of an era where undefeated seasons are becoming increasingly rare. In seasons like the past few, where at least one of the title spots comes down to a jumble of one- or two-loss teams, teams may actually be rewarded for scheduling tougher foes.
LSU benefited tremendously from its early-season rout of eventual ACC champ Virginia Tech in 2007. That game contributed to voters' season-long respect for the Tigers, which paid off the last weekend when 11-2 LSU vaulted from seventh to second. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's nonconference games last year against TCU and Cincinnati likely made the difference when the BCS computers vaulted the Sooners over the Longhorns (whose toughest nonconference foe was Rice) and into the Big 12 title game.
But remember, there are only a handful of schools that realistically feel they have a shot at the national title on a regular basis. Many factors play into a school's schedule -- budgetary concerns, filling seats, television, which dates are available. Impressing BCS voters is generally not one of them.
Hey, no one put a gun to your head and told you to click on the link (or did they?). It's worth noting, however, that last year's Gator Bowl drew 67,000-plus spectators for a game between two unquestionably mediocre teams, 8-4 Nebraska and 7-5 Clemson. So clearly someone still cares. Heck, this attendee even found the experience
I suggest your friend start watching
Gladly. The following link contains the work of someone far more versed on track and field matters than myself. Mind you, this was posted before Bolt's most recent record-shattering performance, but based on the splits from his 100-meter performance in Beijing, the author calculated Bolt
However, the comparison is more complicated than that. The author, a track coach in Canada, notes a 100-meter runner does not accelerate out of the block as quickly as someone running a 40 because that runner has to sustain his speed longer. Therefore, he likely reaches his top speed
If true, obviously that puts him in another category than Ohio State's quarterback. However, there are still a handful of college football players out there who, if we believe their 40 times, are capable of hanging with Usain Bolt. As of last year, Florida's
Instead, let's debunk this 40 myth once and for all by pointing out that Gators running back
My advice: Whenever you read or hear about a college player's otherworldly 40 time, automatically add at least one-tenth of a second for a more accurate reading. That, or assume Bolt actually runs a 3.9.
Oh, I don't know. It seems like pretty harmless fun. When we start staking out