2011 ACC Football Wrap Up and Final Grades.

Mercifully the ACC football season has come to end, and what a terrible end it was. The ACC finished the bowl season 2-6, and fell to 2-13 in BCS games after Virginia Tech was defeated by Michigan in the Sugar Bowl and Clemson was humiliated by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl .

There are some folks that feel these results are fairly meaningless outside the context of their individual team. @Younglefhander wrote a well thought out piece titled “Put that conference banner away” that describes just that. We chatted on twitter about this, and I’m one the other side of the fence about rooting for your conference. Yes I have my personal favorite teams, just look at my profile. I agree you root for your team first, but I believe the national perception of a conference can affect at least in part the performance and status of the individual teams.

Do you think the huge television contracts the Pac 12 and SEC get happen by magic? Why is the SEC given the benefit of the doubt when Alabama loses and they still get two teams in the national title game? There are a small percentage of recruits that will decide to play at a given school because they want to face the perceived best competition in the country or they want to be in a conference that’s considered higher profile than the ACC. Flawed thinking, I agree, but it does happen.

Now I would say you can’t make snap judgments based on a handful of non-conference games, but the ACC’s struggles have been going on for years. Sadly sometimes perception is reality. I know this better than most because as a Georgia Tech fan myself, Georgia very much has a mental edge in that rivalry due to dominating the series over the last decade. I feel confident in saying when a non-conference opponent plays an ACC team, they aren’t intimidated.

Do they always win no, but with each passing year of non-conference struggles the hill gets a little harder to climb. Oh last thought after the 0-2 BCS performance you can bet if there’s another 11-2 or even 11-1 ACC team out there that doesn’t win the ACC, they aren’t getting a BCS At-large bid and it might just be the team you root for. There you go root for your conference or not? You have two different thoughts on the topic…

Ok Final Grades. Same classes as before when we handed out grades before Final Exams. Only an A will move you up a class, and only F will move you down. Hey I’m giving out the grades!

Advanced Class – Pre-season ACC Championship contender, 10+ wins

Intermediate Class- Pre-season Bowl Team, 6-9 wins

Beginner Class – Just looking for improvement, no bowl was predicted

Advanced Class

Virginia Tech, Florida State

Virginia Tech (11-3) Final Grade – B+

When you win 11 games like the Hokies did, it’s still a pretty good season. The year did end with another BCS loss. This time it was Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Not sure if the Hokies will ever get over the hump.

Florida State (9-4) Final Grade – B-

The Noles are one of the few ACC teams that ended the season on a positive note with a Bowl win over Notre Dame and victory over arch rival Florida. Good finish to year that didn’t quite meet expectations. Go find a running game Noles.

Intermediate Class

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, Boston College, North Carolina, Miami

Clemson Tigers (10-4) Final Grade – A-

ACC Champions deserve an A in the intermediate class, but the Orange bowl performance was absolutely disgraceful and embarrassing. Next year they move up to the advanced class.

Georgia Tech (8-5) Final Grade – B-

Georgia tech slightly exceeded expectations, but letting a 14 point 4th quarter lead against Utah slip away put a damper on the season, and there was yet another loss to a Georgia Bulldog squad that didn’t beat one quality team other than the Jackets themselves.

Maryland (2-10) Final Grade – F

Wait I think someone else just transferred from Maryland. Terps going back to the training wheels class.

NC State (8-5) Final Grade – B

No team earned more final grade points than NC State. In fact given how most of the rest of the ACC did in bowl season, I’m giving them a solid B after their Belk Bowl win over Louisville. They could be a darkhorse Atlantic team next year.

Boston College (4-8) Final Grade – D+

BC is the kid struggled and fought so hard, but you just can’t give a passing grade too. They did beat Miami the final week of the season, but there were just too many flunked quizzes during the course of the season.

North Carolina (7-6) Final Grade – C-

If BC was the kid you wanted to pass but couldn’t, then UNC was the kid you wanted to fail but had to pass. That 41-24 bowl game loss to Missouri was about as passionless as a team could play.

Miami (6-6) Final Grade – D+

I debated whether Miami deserved at least a C but if you can’t get by BC at home you don’t. This team would show so much potential at times and so much disinterest at others.

Beginner Class

Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest

Virginia (8-5) Final Grade – A

A couple late season losses to Virginia Tech and Auburn doesn’t keep Virginia from getting an A in a season that included wins over Florida State, Miami, and Georgia Tech.

Wake Forest (6-7) Final Grade – B

If Wake Forest had been able to beat Vanderbilt or Mississippi St. in their bowl, I may have been able to give them an A. I just couldn’t, but still very few people thought the Deacs could win more than 3 or 4 games.

Duke (3-9) Final Grade – C-

Just sit the corner Duke and try not to disturb the other students.

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