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Jul
01
2016

Which ACC Football programs besides Florida State and Clemson can become perennial Top 25 Teams?

Louisville v Purdue

Four years ago I wrote the ACC had become Florida State and Clemson and we would see over the 4 or 5 years which ACC program could join them as a perennial top 25 teams.  I wrote that article in 2012, and we’re still waiting on a program to step forward.

The good news is that each year since 2013, the ACC has produced a 3rd 10 win team – Duke (2013), Georgia Tech (2014), North Carolina (2015). All finished the season ranked, and in the case of 2014 and 2015, the ACC had 3 top 15 teams.

Here is the problem no ACC program has stepped up to be consistent top 25 caliber team. Here is the question – which ACC Football programs are the closet to to becoming consistent top 25 fixtures. The ACC needs this solid second tier behind Florida State and Clemson if they wish to continue the football progress made over the last few years.

1) Louisville

The Cardinals are very very close to being that consistent top 25 team. Louisville has won 17 games the last 2 years with wins over Notre Dame and Texas A&M. They produce plenty of NFL talent and Bobby Petrino is one of the most respected offensive minds in college football. They invest in athletics and have solid fan support. I can see Louisville having a 10 win season if not this year then next year.

2) Miami

Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting – that’s how you build programs. There is so much talent in the state of Florida that there is enough to supply FSU, Florida and Miami. If new coach Mark Richt can harness the nearby talent, the Canes could become pretty good again. I don’t think Richt can return Miami to their former glory, but he’s an established coach that is capable of making Miami at the very least solid year in and year out. The fan support is not good, Richt will have to sell Miami’s locale.

3) Virginia Tech

In the not too distant past Virginia Tech had 8 straight seasons of 10 wins or more. That streak came to an in 2011. There’s great fan support in the area, and a solid recruiting base. The Frank Beamer era staled, and now former Memphis coach Justin Fuente is at the helm. Fuente is young and energetic, and the Hokies needed a change.  There isn’t any reason they can’t be a top 25 program again.

4) UNC

North Carolina is coming off a top 15 season, where they made the ACC Championship game. The Tar Heels always seem to get on the verge on consistent success and then fall back. I’m not even sure Larry Fedora is the long-term solution at head coach, but he recruits pretty well. If they can put together a solid 2016 following up the 2015 season, then we may really have something.

5) Duke

Which ACC program has averaged the most wins the last 3 years outside of Clemson and FSU? It would be Duke Blue Devils at 9 wins the season. Can the Blue Devils sustain this level of success and even improve on it? As long David Cutcliffe is head coach there, Duke will be competitive. Duke has invested in facilities, and has done everything right to make the program get better. Here is the problem, the the fan support is a disappointment. They are still home games where they draw in the low 20 thousands. The program deserves better, and eventually the lack of fan support will have a negative effect. I think we are at Duke’s ceiling.

6) Georgia Tech

I have to include Georgia Tech, because despite 2015’s 3-9 year the 2014 11-3 season was the ACC’s best non-Clemson/FSU team since the 2005 Virginia Tech team. That’s says something of what the Yellow Jackets are capable of. I just don’t think Georgia Tech recruits well enough to put those kind seasons together on a consistent basis. If the recruiting ever could elevate to even a top 40 level, Georgia Tech could win 8-10 games a year. Please don’t tell me about how you only recruit to the offense either. You need players. Paul Johnson’s best Georgia Tech teams always had multiple player NFL caliber players.

The Rest

Pitt and NC State are interesting cases. Both have only had one 10+ win season in the last 20 years. Pat Narduzzi had a good first year at Pitt, but we need to see what he does in year two. NC State is a mystery. They have the best fan support of the North Carolina schools, but the Wolfpack have only won 6 ACC games in 3 years under Dave Doeren. They should be better than what they are.

Boston College, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Virginia are in similar boats. All are in deep extended periods of mediocrity, and in complete rebuilding mode.

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