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Jul
07
2013

What each ACC football program must do to reach their potential.

ACCCGI got this idea for an article from a follower mine on twitter @iLLDuce. What each ACC football program must do to reach their potential. The simple answers are get better players and get better coaching, and you can compete for and win national titles. Sometimes that is the answer, but not always. There are those teams that reached beyond their potential, especially in the fairly recent past which I would say is within the past 25 years. There are results like Georgia Tech winning a national title in 1990, Wake Forest winning the ACC in 2006, and Florida State finishing in the top 5 14 consecutive years (1987-2000). Sure it can happen again, but we’re talking realistic potential.

We won’t bother looking at Maryland, because well what’s the point? We’ll be looking at Louisville instead.

Let’s begin with the Atlantic Division teams…

Atlantic

Clemson Tigers

Potential – Perennial top 20 team, average 9-11 wins a year… once every two or three years should be able to finish in the top 5.

What must be done – Consistency. The Tigers went 20 years without an ACC Title, more than 20 without a top 10 finish. That’s unacceptable for a program with the potential of Clemson. There are positive signs that it can be done. Dabo Swinney has won 21 games the last two years and has recruited well, now the Tigers must prove they can do it consistently.

Florida State

Potential – Perennial top 15 team, average 10-12 wins a year… should appear in the National Title Game at least once every five years.

What must be done – Stop losing to clearly inferior opponents. The 14 year top 5 run is something that may never happen again. Even Nick Saban’s Alabama has finished outside the top 5 2 out of the last 5 years. That said FSU should never lose more than a couple of ACC games a year. The recruiting base of Florida is 2nd to none. Jimbo Fisher has re-built the talent base. Losing to a Clemson is one thing, but losing at home to Virginia, at Wake Forest, at NC State as a double digit favorite the last 2 years?

Louisville

Potential – Perennial top 25 team, average 8-11 wins a year… should finish in the top 10 once every 3 years

What must be done – Keep recruiting well. Louisville’s only problem is that they are in the same division as Florida State and Clemson. Charlie Strong is signed up as head coach, the fanbase is solid. Louisville has shown the ability to beat elite competition, just ask Florida. To keep pace with the Noles and Tigers that have to become a team that consistently produce top 25 classes. This year is a good start with what looks like a top 25 recruiting class in the making.

NC State

Potential – Top 25 team every other year, average 7-10 wins a year… bowl every year.

What must be done – Improve talent base. NC State’s lack of consistent football success is simply puzzling. They have solid fan support but the recruiting was not very good under Tom O’Brien. Dave Doeren is in his first year recruiting and doing a good job, but the Wolfpack could use an elite recruit or two before it’s this class is done. Then the Wolfpack have to keep building on it.

Boston College

Potential – Top 25 team every other year, average 7-10 wins a year… bowl every year.

What must be done – Improve talent base. Boston College will look alot like NC State outside of the fan support which sometimes is scattered at best. Did you know BC reached #2 in the country as recently as 2007? Elite players like Matt Ryan, Luke Kuechly, and Mark Herzlich have played there in the last few years. Right now BC is in a down cycle, but new coach Steve Addazio is building a strong 2014 class.

Wake Forest – bowl every year.

What must be done – Build from within. What Wake Forest did in 2006 winning the ACC was remarkable. There were 28 wins between 2006-2008. You can say things start selling out every game, but Wake Forest is a small school with a small fanbase competing with 4 other ACC schools just in North Carolina. The Deacs will never recruit at a high level. What Jim Grobe did in 06-08 was redshirt players, do a great job of talent evaluation, and build from within. Winning the ACC Title isn’t likely, but the blue print for success is already there.

Sryacuse – Top 25 team every 3 years, 7-9 wins a year… bowl every year.

What must be done – Continuity/Better Coaching. Doug Marrone had won 8 games at Syracuse 2 of the last 3 years, but the Orange couldn’t hold on to him. He had begun to turn things around there. The previous coach Greg Robinson lasted only 4 years, but that was a disaster. Scott Shafer is the new head coach, either he’ll struggle and the stint will be short, or he does well and then the Cuse need to find a way to hold on to him. What the Cuse don’t want to do is look for a new coach so soon.

Coastal

Virginia Tech

Potential – Perennial Top 20 team, ACC Champion once every 3 years, BCS win and or Top 5 at least once every 5 years.

What must be done – Recruit at Elite Level. Since ACC expansion started in the 2000s, the Hokies have been the ACC’s best most consistent program until a 7-6 2012. They have played close to their potential for years, but the Hokies have never quite recruited at an elite level. They haven’t been able to quite match the best teams in the country in terms of talent. They have a rabid fanbase and a football culture, they should at least occasionally be able put together a top 15 type class. I couldn’t find 1 going back to 2002.

Georgia Tech 

Potential – Top 25 team every other year, with occasional appearances in the top 15, bowl every year. 

What must be done – Beat UGA more than once in twelve years. Georgia is going to recruit better than Georgia Tech, and they will simply be better in most years, but an atrocious 1-11 record to your in state rival since 2001 makes it difficult for Georgia Tech to recruit their own talent rich state. In general Georgia Tech must recruit better. Yes the academics are an issue, but shouldn’t Paul Johnson have produced at least 1 top 30 class?

Miami

Potential – Perennial top 20 team, average 9-11 wins a year… once every two or three years should be able to finish in the top 5.

What must be done – Get through the NCAA mess, and Miami fans support your team! No program has underachieved in the ACC more than Miami recent years. With the NCAA investigation still unresolved the Hurricanes have an excuse for the moment, but the potential down in Miami is unreal. They have a fantastic recruiting base in Sotuh Florida and a rich history. I think Al Golden is taking the steps in the right direction for Miami. Now Canes fans show up for games… I know it’s not an on campus stadium, but fan attendance at Miami has become a running ACC joke. Top 20 football programs don’t play in front of half empty stadiums.

Duke 

Potential – Bowl every year

What must be done – Facilities Upgrade. David Cutcliffe has done a great job at Duke making them a respectable program. I said facility upgrades must be made and they are in process in Durham. Once those are done, and provided Cutcliffe stays the Blue Devils have the potential to be consistent bowl team.

North Carolina

Potential – 8-10 wins a year, Should win the ACC Coastal at least once every five years. 

What must be done – Play to talent level. Under Butch Davis UNC recruited well. The Tar Heels churned out quite a bit of NFL talent. They are still recruiting well under Larry Fedora. Football will always be second to basketball in Chapel Hill, but that doesn’t seem to hurt recruiting. Fedora had a solid 8-4 first season. There’s optimism this might the year the Tar Heels can break the 8 win ceiling.

Virginia

Potential – Top 25 team every other year, 7-9 wins a year, bowl every year.

What must be done – Upgrade gameday coaching. Virginia is a tough program to figure out. It really doesn’t make sense they have averaged 5.4 wins a season since 2006. I think this is part of the problem for the Cavaliers. They have no identity. They haven’t beat in-state rival Virginia Tech since 2003. They can’t settle on a quarterback. Mike London is a good recruiter, but I’m often left wondering what Virginia is trying to accomplish on gameday. London will be on the hotseat if the Cavs miss a bowl.

Pittsburgh

Potential – Top 25 team, 8-10 wins a year, bowl every year

What must be done – Build from the ground up. I think there is so much potential at Pittsburgh to be a quality football program. They should own Northeastern football. Penn State is on probation. The Panthers have a storied football history. As recently as the 2008-2010 they won 27 games in those three years. Yes they will be second to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their own town and the stadium is off campus, but with better recruiting the Panthers can win. I like head coach Paul Chryst  and I think you can win at Pittsburgh. 

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2 pings

  1. Reader’s choice ACC article. You pick the topic! » All Sports Discussion says:

    [...] I wrote the piece “What each ACC Football program must do to reach their potential.” at the request of one of my twitter followers as something that would be interesting. The response [...]

  2. Reader’s choice ACC article. You pick the topic! | Sports Blog United says:

    [...] I wrote the piece “What each ACC Football program must do to reach their potential.” at the request of one of my twitter followers as something that would be interesting. The response [...]

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