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Apr
02
2016

Is the ACC entering a golden age for it’s major sports?

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Before the Elite 8 of this year’s NCAA Tournament was even complete we knew the ACC was going to have 2 teams in the Final Four and a team in the National Championship game. That’s what happens when you have 4 teams on one side of the Elite 8 bracket. The Sweet 16 had a record setting 6 ACC Teams. After a 17-5 2015 NCAA Tournament that had a then record 5 ACC Teams, it was been incredible NCAA Tournament run for the ACC the last 2 years.

Beyond that though, the last 3 years have brought on unprecedented  success for the ACC across the widely accepted 4 major sports in college athletics – Football, Baseball, men’s and women’s basketball.

In football the ACC has 4 Big Six Bowl wins in the last 3 years including a national title by Florida State in 2013, and a National Title appearance by Clemson in 2015. Clemson has won 2 Orange Bowls, and Georgia Tech also won an Orange Bowl for a 4-3 Big 6 Bowl Record.

In men’s basketball the ACC has had 12 Sweet 16 teams the last 3 years, 3 Final 4 teams (UNC – 2016 , Syracuse – 2016. Duke – 2015), and national title by Duke 2015. That is even after having just 1 Sweet 16 team in 2014. The 2016 season could add another national title.

In women’s basketball, Notre Dame appeared in the last 2 National Title games, and Syracuse made it to the Final 4 this year. It could be 3 years in a row an ACC team is in the Title game of women’s basketball if Syracuse can advance to the championship game.

In men’s baseball Virginia broke through to win the National Title. after appearing in the National Title Series in 2014. The ACC has had 5 College World Series teams the last 3 years. (UNC, NC State – 2013, Virginia – 2014, Miami, Virginia – 2015).

The conference has had 8 national title teams in the last 11 major college sports championships. It could be 9 out of 12 if Syracuse makes the Women’s Title game. The next closet power 5 conference to these numbers is the SEC with 6 teams that have competed in a national title game/series across these 4 major sports. The Big 10 has had 2. The Pac 12 with just 1 and the Big 12 has had ZERO national title contending teams the last 3 years. Oklahoma could give the Big 12 a national title team in basketball should they beat Villanova Saturday.

Yes the ACC has either 14 or 15 schools competing in these sports, but that is only 1 more than the SEC and Big 10. Given their revenue advantages, it is remarkable that the ACC has become arguably the best most balanced athletic conference among the power 5.

Is this the Golden Age of the ACC Sports? I can’t find a more successful time period for ACC Sports in history. The Early 90s did have Football National Titles in 1990 by Georgia Tech and 1993 for Florida State. 1991 Duke, 1992 Duke, 1993 UNC won a national titles in men’s basketball. That 4 year period was probably closest to the current time period.

The question is how does the ACC maintain and continue this positive trend? Certainly revenue generation becomes important, and we continue to wait on an ACC Network or something similar. The ACC doesn’t need to be number one in this category as proven by the recent results, but they need to be in the ball park of the SEC and Big 10.

The conference needs to continue make smart coaching hires ala FSU’s Jimbo Fisher, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney in football, and Virginia’s Tony Bennett in basketball.

It’s a positive time for the ACC, when any ACC school you root for will compete against at least 1 team that is capable reaching the national title game.

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