Do you remember the 1990s in the ACC? Florida State was an elite football program that started playing football the ACC in 1992. Georgia Tech had just won the national title in 1990. ACC football was going to be set for the next 20 years. Florida State did their part. The Seminoles won 2 National Titles (1993, 1999), finished in the top 5 from 1987-2000 and went an incredible 70-2 in the ACC from 1992-2000. The rest of the ACC, well never really elevated their football programs.
Do you know how many other top 15 teams the ACC had from 1992-2000? Just 4… They were #15 Virginia in 1994, #10 UNC in 1996, #6 UNC in 1997, #9 Georgia Tech in 1999. That’s it.
When the Florida State Seminoles program slipped for most of the next decade, Virginia Tech became the ACC’s best program. The Hokies were good, but they couldn’t compete at an elite national level. Now the Seminoles are back, and they aren’t going anywhere. They are 15-1 in the ACC the last 2 years in the ACC and own a National Title. The Clemson Tigers seem set they’ve finished in the top 15 the last 2 years with a slew of nationally relevant wins.
Back in the 1990s there was at least half the time a second top 15 team with Florida State. We’ve mentioned Clemson already, and then what? Is this going to be a repeat of 1990s? Florida State, one solid team a year, and the rest of conference never consistently getting better? That’s been where the SEC has separated itself from the rest of the country prior to last year. They’ve had multiple teams winning national titles, and multiple teams finishing in the top 15. Alabama has a down year, and Auburn steps right in. Florida falls back, and there’s Alabama.
It’s difficult to say where ACC football will be in the next 5-10 years. There’s a lot of potential in Louisville, but I can’t bring myself to fully trust Bobby Petrino. Great coach with a questionable reputation.
The Cardinals are already struggling recruiting this year and people are noticing. Virginia Tech has clearly slipped, and what happens after Frank Beamer retires?UNC has recruited well for years, but has to get over the hump. Duke has certainly elevated their football program, but is there a ceiling? Miami can get players in, but they are still at least a couple of years away. Could another ACC team breakout?
It’s a good question… Will 2010-2020 look like the 1990s in the ACC or will this time around can other ACC programs step forward? I think the signs are that it can happen.
In the last 5 years, FSU, Clemson and Duke have all make significant improvements in their programs. If other ACC programs can’t improve, they have no one to blame but themselves.