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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Thinking out loud: The ACC's potential in '09

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This morning's posts about ACC players working their way into the national spotlight prompted this response from T.C. in Richmond, Va., regarding the ACC this year:

Hey Heather, you know I love the blog but I'll have to kindly disagree with you on one thing: I don't think the ACC will get the national attention the fans feel we deserve this season, and here's why. Until a couple of teams can separate, they'll all just keep beating up on each other. This means finishing the regular season with 2 or more losses, and perhaps the most talented teams in the conference not even making the BCS game. I think the fans, coaches, and players in the ACC recognize how solid the conference is--top to bottom--but this whole "parity vs mediocrity" thing won't be seen the same way from the Gators, Longhorns and Trojans who dominate their conferences. So we won't get the national respect until we're more like the other big conferences. We either need to have two or three teams dominate the league and finish undefeated or with one loss, or we'll need Ole Miss and Washington to get really good. Of course having probably our best team blown out on national television against one of the SEC's disappointments doesn't help our water-cooler or sports bar arguments either. We'll get there, but I don't think we're there yet.

T.C. makes some very valid (not to mention refreshingly rational) points. Once summer camp gets under way and we learn more about each of these teams, we'll revisit this, but here are some quick reactions:

1. Agreed, the ACC will be as competitive as it was last year, if not moreso. That, in turn, will make it difficult for a team like Virginia Tech to make it through the entire schedule unscathed and finish atop the BCS standings. That said, it's not like everyone in the SEC is going to roll out the red carpet for Florida to get to the national championship, either. And Texas has a few teams it will have to play, too. Therein lies the beauty of college football -- every game matters.

2. Agreed, the ACC needs a few teams to separate and dominate in order to truly make a statement on the national level. It's close, but not quite. On the verge? Florida State. Miami. Georgia Tech. North Carolina. None of which have a senior quarterback in 2009.

3. That doesn't mean the league can't make a statement this year by doing things like beating its nonconference BCS opponents, winning its bowl games and sneaking two or three teams into the top half of the BCS standings.

4. Coaches like Paul Johnson, Butch Davis and David Cutcliffe have automatically raised the ACC's respect-o-meter a notch. Their success in 2008 is one reason the league will be watched a little more closely this season to begin with.