ACC football: Gloom, despair and agony

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If hunting for survival could be linked in some way to collegiate football, then the Atlantic Coast Conference would starve its way into oblivion.

The 2012 regular season ended this past Saturday. Congrats to the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack for successfully playing the role of buzzards and picking the dead carcasses of league cellar-dwellers Maryland (2-6 in the ACC) and Boston College (1-7).

‘Carolina actually had a decent year….finishing 8-4 overall and tied with Miami and Georgia Tech for first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division (all at 5-3). The ‘Heels would have won that tiebreaker and represented the Coastal in this coming weekend’s ACC Championship game had it not been for the NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Butch Davis era in Chapel Hill.

For the ‘Pack, it was another year of should’a, could’a, would’a. Our vaunted defensive secondary was toasted by Tennessee in the season opener; gave up a zillion or so yards vs. Miami and Clemson…..the list goes on and on. We have no running game; luckily we have Mike Glennon who passed for 3,648 yards and 30 TD’s this year. Without him we’re bumping elbows with Maryland, BC and Virginia in the league basement.

After posting yet another in a series of “ho-hum” seasons, NCSU head coach Tom O’Brien was shown the door on Sunday. While coach O’Brien brought a touch of class back to the program – in the wake of tough guy Chuck Amato, whose players were undisciplined – his six seasons in Raleigh produced 40 wins in 75 starts, but the ‘Pack was sub par (22-26) against ACC foes.

And, in a total shocker, even Duke turned in what could be considered, for them, as a banner football year (6-6 overall; 3-5 in the ACC, including a win over the hated ‘Heels). With the six wins, the ‘Devils have qualified for a post-season bowl game….a first for the program since the invention of the face mask. And if Duke skipper David Cutcliffe figures out that it’s okay to punt on 4th-and-1 from near midfield, then his club might have a chance to win a bowl game. Cutcliffe opted not to do that vs. Miami on Saturday….the Hurricanes used the short field to score a third quarter TD and later wound-up winning by seven.

But let’s get back to the real subject of this column….the ACC’s lack of success when it comes to butting heads on the gridiron with the “big boys” – namely those from the Southeastern Conference.

Other than Clemson’s 26-19 win over Auburn (who went on to experience one of their worst seasons in history) during the Sept. 1 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta, the ACC was once again woeful vs. the SEC in 2012.

Tennessee (who wound-up with a losing season and fired their head coach a few weeks ago) torched the NC State defense for long scoring plays and beat the ‘Pack, 35-21 in the season opener for both clubs.

This past Saturday, the SEC went 4-0 vs. the ACC.

Georgia scored early and often and crushed Georgia Tech, 42-10. By the way, Georgia Tech will be the Coastal Division representative in the ACC title game on Dec. 1.

Vanderbilt routed Wake Forest 55-21; Florida went on the road to rival Florida State where the Gators rallied for a 37-26 win; and South Carolina put on a defensive clinic in the second half to whip in-state rival Clemson, 27-17.

It would seem to me that if the ACC wanted to boost its football image on the national scene, the league’s brain trust would have attempted to raid the SEC. But no, we wined the dined the likes of Syracuse and Pitt and they will soon join our fold. And with Maryland’s announcement last week they were bolting the ACC to join the Big Ten Conference, where do look for a replacement? Is this our chance to pluck an SEC team? Nope….it appears that UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida are among the frontrunners.

Yippee…. Rejects from another league to increase the ACC’s chance to land a berth in the Southwestern Taco Bluebonnet Bowl and a whopping $250,000 payday while the SEC rakes in millions from BCS bowls.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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