Jim Quist @ACCTheQ
I was speaking with one of my nieces over Thanksgiving about driving from Michigan State to Minneapolis. She was all good with that part of the journey. It was the thought of getting a flat tire between the Twin Cities and Iowa where cell coverage is spotty that was cause for trepidation. I added that assistance was coming in the form of the van driver from the movie ‘Jeepers Creepers’. Points, Uncle Jim.
Speaking of flat tires, this season of ACC football has left me wanting. Every time you thought the season was back on track, lo and behold another flat. A good friend of mine who is also sports writer and big fan of the Tar Heels may be swinging me over to his diehard stance that the ACC is solely a basketball conference.
At the end of the season we have two teams, Clemson and Syracuse in the AP and USA Today polls. Really? Now look, Clemson was kind of a gimme this season but who would have expected the Orange to be there? As they’d say on Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Notre Dame, though not a football member of the ACC (though, c’mon, anyone playing up to 5 games of their season in a conference is really a member) made it to the playoffs this year. The concern there was if their head coach would retain his job if the team didn’t make it this far. That doesn’t sound like a fanbase that was all that confident headed into the season either.
I scroll down a list from USA Today of the Top 130 FBS football programs and only find the aforementioned teams in the top 30. Only four more made it to the top 50. Again, really? It’s okay to say this season sucked, because frankly, it did.
Let me just go ahead and call out the inconsistent teams –
- NC State
- Boston College
- Florida State
- Virginia Tech
Now, lest you think I’m letting a few others off the hook I’m not. Yes, these teams sucked as well but in a completely different way –
- Georgia Tech
- Wake Forest
- North Carolina
This word, flat, aptly applies to the overall performances of every team in the conference. But, but, but what about this game or that game? Sure, one or two games added to our hopes and dreams this season. However, the next week or week thereafter ran yet another two-penny nail deep into our under 45-mph spare which then was replaced with ‘de-spare’. This makes it hard to escape that van (and thing) we see rapidly approaching in our rear view mirror.
So far two coaches haven’t escaped the keen observation of their athletic directors. Bobby Petrino got the boot before the season was even over. Thank you, Louisville for not settling for less.
Larry Fedora has been replaced by Mack Brown at North Carolina. The move tells me that the Tar Heels will no longer settle for a stadium only a quarter full on game day. You fans deserve a, “boo-hiss” for that embarrassment. I’ll admit I was wrong in saying Fedora would hang in for another year on our podcast. Thank you, North Carolina for striving to be better.
I could go down the list pointing out each team’s weaknesses and deficiencies this year. Where they came up short in critical games. But, you already know. I’m not into beating dead horses.
As we look the ACC Football Championship game squarely in the eye can we all beg and plead for a game that doesn’t just absolutely stink? It’s easy to roll with the assumption that Clemson will embarrass Pitt. It would be a pleasant surprise to have a real game. The pressure lands squarely on the shoulders of Pat Narduzzi and his players.
Lest you think I’m anything other than the guy who’s glass is half full I do see some light at the end of the tunnel. More than a handful of conference teams are poised to bring back some exciting playmakers on offense and defense next season. The potential to see a re-emergence of ACC football on the national stage is strong.
That light at the end of the tunnel? We’ll have to wait until next season to determine if it’s success or a train.
Jim Quist is Managing Editor of ACC Nation and host of our podcast. Jim is a member of FWAA and ACSMA with extensive media experience (radio, TV, multi-media) in news and sports. He resides in the Richmond area and is a fan of the Chicago Bears, Bulls and Cubs.