Sitting here at home, in the midst of listening to tape from the sixth of 12 ACC football coaches (in this case from Frank Beamer), and there’s a definite sense of deja vu.
Over and over and over, all these are guys were asked about the league’s foibles, especially in the post-expansion era. Beamer probably was asked four times alone.
And you could hear it in any random time in 2007 during the league’s weekly teleconference. And in 2006. And in 2005.
If you’re around it enough, you just sort of become numb to it. To invoke a completely appropriate Ralphism, “it is what it is.” There isn’t much to add to a storyline about a conference whose champion has lost nine straight BCS games. A conference that hasn’t finished with a top-five team since 2000. A conference that hasn’t won a national title since 1999 (the SEC last won in 2007, the Big 12 in 2005, the Pac-10 in 2004, the Big Ten in 2002 and the Big East in 2001).
At this point, there just isn’t much more to say, at least until the league’s dozen teams do something on the field to change its perception nationally.
“We haven’t proven we can go on the national scene and win games and until we do that, I don’t think you have any leg to stand on to dispute that claim,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “You have to go out and you have to win those nonconference games if you’re going to be considered as the top conference in the country.”
And what might those nonconference games be? Here’s the ACC’s full list of BCS-level opponents in 2008:
N.C. State at South Carolina; Wake Forest at Baylor
Clemson vs. Alabama in Atlanta; Southern California at Virginia
Northwestern at Duke; Miami at Florida; Mississippi at Wake Forest
North Carolina at Rutgers
California at Maryland; Virginia at Connecticut
Mississippi State at Georgia Tech; Miami at Texas A&M
Florida State vs. Colorado in Jacksonville, Fla.; South Florida at N.C. State; Virginia Tech at Nebraska
Connecticut at North Carolina
Notre Dame at North Carolina
Duke at Vanderbilt
Notre Dame at Boston College
South Carolina at Clemson; Florida at Florida State; Georgia Tech at Georgia; Vanderbilt at Wake Forest
That’s 23 games, 15 of them by the end of September. All the chatter about whether the conference takesa big step this season will be figured out all too soon right where it should be —- on the field.
Until then, it doesn’t seem worth spilling much more ink (actual or digital) on the subject. But that won’t stop the questions from coming.
—- Patrick Stevens