A new era of college football has begun, but for the ACC, the task remains the same: Win big or go home. On Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., the presidential oversight committee approved a four-team playoff proposal that will go into effect for the 2014 season.
Will any ACC teams be in contention to play in the first national semifinals in January 2015? Will the conference benefit from the new format?
By having the top four teams instead of the top two, the ACC’s chances will automatically increase, but so will everyone else’s. And if a selection committee gets the final word, there’s no telling how the perception of the conference will factor into the process. Those who have been paying attention to the league, though, should see it is getting stronger. The recruiting has been going well, particularly for Florida State and Clemson, but also at schools like Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina.
Since Virginia Tech joined the ACC for the 2004 season, coach Frank Beamer has compiled a record of 84-24 (.778), the highest winning percentage in league history. During that time, the Hokies have won four ACC championships (2004, 2007, 2008, 2010) and had 10 or more wins in each of the past eight seasons, the only school in the nation to have done so.
Yet the Hokies have finished in the top five of the final BCS standings once since joining the league.
If you look back at the history of the final BCS standings, the ACC has had two teams finish in the top five: No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2) in 2007, and No. 2 Florida State in 2000. Miami and Virginia Tech were also top-five teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but that was before they joined the ACC.
It doesn’t matter what system college football decides on. In order for the ACC to stand a chance at playing for the national title, it needs to produce more undefeated and/or one-loss teams. Here’s a look back at the ACC’s top finishers in the final BCS standings under the current system:
2011: No. 11 Virginia Tech (11-2)
2010: No. 13 Virginia Tech (11-2)
2009: No. 9 Georgia Tech (11-2)
2008: No. 14 Georgia Tech (9-3)
2007: No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2)
2006: No. 14 Wake Forest (11-2)
2005: No. 8 Miami (9-2)
2004: No. 8 Virginia Tech (10-2)
2003: No. 7 Florida State (10-2)
2002: No. 14 Florida State (9-4) (No. 1 Miami)
2001: No. 10 Maryland (10-1) (No. 1 Miami)
2000: No. 2 Florida State (11-1) (No. 3 Miami, No. 5 Virginia Tech)
I know, I know … 2000 would have been a great year for the ACC. If it happened once, it can happen again, right?
The problem with the ACC’s history in the BCS is that you have to go back to Maryland in 2001 to find the last one-loss team. The ACC has gone an entire decade without producing a one-loss team heading into the bowl season. According to David Teel at the Daily Press, the SEC has had 12 undefeated or one-loss teams during that span, the Big Ten has had 11, and the Pac-12 and Big 12 followed with 10 each.
A four-team playoff isn’t going to change that, but maybe Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson can.