Four years in, Va. Tech, Boston College look like expansion winners

Conventional wisdom says you can’t really start judging a college football coach’s performance until after his fourth year. By that point, most of the players are his recruits, and he’s fully implemented his own offensive and defensive schemes. For better or for worse, he owns the program.

The 12-team version of the ACC reached the magical four-year mark at the end of the 2008 season. With that in mind, here’s a look at how each program has fared over that time:

Team Records from 2005 to 2008*

Team

ACC

Overall

Division Titles

Conf Titles

Bowls (Record)

Virginia Tech

25-7

42-12

3

2

4 (2-2)

Boston College

21-11

39-14

2

0

4 (3-1)

Georgia Tech

21-11

32-20

1

0

4 (0-4)

Clemson

18-14

32-19

0

0

4 (1-3)

Wake Forest

18-14

32-19

1

1

3 (2-1)

Florida State

17-15

31-21

1

1

4 (2-2)

Virginia

16-16

26-23

0

0

2 (1-1)

Maryland

15-17

28-22

0

0

3 (2-1)

Miami

15-17

28-22

0

0

3 (1-2)

North Carolina

13-19

20-28

0

0

1 (0-1)

N.C. State

12-20

21-28

0

0

2 (1-1)

Duke

1-31

6-41

0

0

0 (0-0)

* Virginia Tech and Miami joined the conference in 2004, but full expansion didn’t happen until Boston College joined in 2005.

Virginia Tech has been the class of the conference.
And it’s not really close. Since joining the ACC, the Hokies have:

  • Played in three of the first four conference championship games.
  • Won the last two ACC titles. (Throw in the 2004 season, and it’s three out of five.)
  • Won at least 10 games each of the last four years.
  • Snapped the ACC’s 8-year losing streak in BCS bowl games.

The Hokies haven’t dominated in quite the same way Florida State did by winning 11 ACC titles in its first 12 years. But Frank Beamer’s program has clearly distinguished itself from the rest of its new league.

Boston College — not Miami — has been the second-best expansion team so far.
Boston College was the throw-in of expansion compared to football heavyweights Virginia Tech and Miami. But the Eagles went to bowls in each of their final six seasons in the Big East, and the streak has just kept growing since they joined the ACC.

BC has the second-best record in the conference since 2005. They have won two straight Atlantic Division titles. And they have more bowl victories in the last four years than any other ACC team.

Now on their third coach in four years, the Eagles look like they’re in for a down year in 2009. So far, however, only Virginia Tech has been better.

Wake Forest has been the biggest surprise of the 12-team era.
Who could have imagined that in the first four years of full expansion Wake Forest would have as many ACC titles as Florida State and Miami — combined?

After posting a 4-7 mark in 2005, the Demon Deacons have gone 28-12, the third-best record among ACC teams over the last three seasons. If not for Rutgers, Wake’s 2006 conference title run would have been the runaway best story in college football that season.

Jim Grobe has turned what is historically the ACC’s worst program into a winner. Right now, he’s the best coach in the conference.

Florida State and Miami have been the biggest disappointments.
The two Florida teams were supposed to be the powers of the ACC. Instead, they’ve been major letdowns.

Florida State and Miami got off to a decent enough start in the 12-team era. Despite a 5-3 conference record, the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech in the inaugural ACC championship game to claim their 12th title in 14 seasons. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes went 6-2 in conference and 9-3 overall in 2005 and handed the Hokies their only regular-season ACC loss of the season.

Both teams have failed to live up to their own lofty standards since. FSU has lost more ACC games in the last three seasons (12) than it did in the previous 14 (11). Counting its 2004 debut, Miami has been a .500 team in conference play. This wasn’t what John Swofford was hoping for from these two.

The state of Triangle football is not good.
Only three teams had losing overall records in the first four years of full ACC expansion — and they happen to play their home games within roughly 20 miles of each other.

Since the start of the 2005 season, N.C. State, North Carolina and Duke together went 47-97 and 26-70 in conference. To no one’s surprise, Duke has been as creative as ever at losing games. Aside from the Blue Devils, State and Carolina are the only teams that haven’t posted a winning conference record at least once.

(For State and Carolina fans, it’s pretty much a tossup as to who’s been better over the last four years. The Tar Heels have won one more ACC game. The Wolfpack have been to one more bowl game. The recent series is tied 2-2.)

2008 offered signs of hope for all three teams. Carolina had its best season since 2001 and is ranked in most preseason polls this year. State won its last four games to become bowl eligible, swept the other four I-A teams in the state and brings back a quarterback who was first-team All-ACC as a freshman. Even Duke snapped a 25-game conference losing streak and matched its win total for the previous four seasons.

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One Response to Four years in, Va. Tech, Boston College look like expansion winners

  1. […] Va. Tech, BC the biggest winners in the expanded ACC (9/2) […]

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