- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s not all Virginia Tech’s fault, though the Hokies do shoulder the brunt of the responsibility.
Clemson, Florida State and Miami are also to blame for the ACC’s tired, old, national storyline, which has become more predictable than the odds of Georgia Tech running the ball.
It’s quite possible no other conference has done less with its preseason rankings and hype than the ACC, at least in recent years. Maybe the trend began in 2006, when Florida State and Miami were ranked No. 11 and No. 12, respectively, in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, only to finish with identical 7-6 records. In each of the past four seasons, Virginia Tech entered the season with a top-10 preseason ranking but was unable to parlay those expectations into a national title appearance.
Of all of the BCS conferences, the ACC has arguably been the biggest tease over the past five seasons, but that hasn’t stopped the fans and media from continuing to buy into at least one of the ACC’s top teams every summer.
This year, it’s Florida State.
The Seminoles are likely to be a top-five team in the majority of preseason polls, and they will be considered an automatic contender for the national title if they beat Oklahoma, which is likely to be ranked No. 1, at home in Tallahassee on Sept. 17.
Those within Florida State’s program insist that this year is different, that they’re good enough, that the Noles are “back.”
Veteran ACC fans and followers should know better.
Consider the league’s history for title teases:
2006: Florida State No. 11, Miami No. 12. The Noles lost four of the final six regular-season games, and the Canes lost four of the final five.
2007: Virginia Tech was ranked No. 9 in the preseason, but got blasted by LSU in the second game, 48-7, a loss that would come back to haunt the Hokies in a wild and crazy season for the BCS standings. They lost to Kansas in the Orange Bowl.
2008: Clemson was ranked No. 9 in the preseason. The Tigers started with an embarrassing thud, rushing for zero yards in a 34-10 loss to Alabama in the season opener. A 7-6 season included a bowl loss to Nebraska and the midseason firing of Tommy Bowden.
2009: Virginia Tech was ranked No. 7 in the AP preseason poll, but Alabama quickly ended those national title hopes in the season opener. With back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and UNC, the Hokies didn’t even win the Coastal Division.
2010: Virginia Tech was ranked No. 10, Miami No. 13: Back-to-back losses to Boise State and James Madison completely ruined the Hokies’ national title hopes, but they redeemed themselves with an undefeated run through conference play. Kind of. A convincing 40-12 loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl didn’t exactly help their reputation against top teams. And Miami? Well, last season went so well for the Canes that they’ve got a new coach.
Will this finally be the season the ACC delivers more than expectations?
“I certainly hope so,” said league commissioner John Swofford. “I don’t think we’re that far away.”
It isn't. It’s close.
Otherwise, it wouldn’t be considered such a tease.
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