Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The ACC, The NFL Draft and Lack of BCS Success

The ACC had another great NFL Draft with 35 players selected, second highest number among conferences.

Yet the conferences members continue to struggle in BCS bowls and games against other top BCS teams.

Clemson had three defensive players chosen in the first 51 picks yet the Tigers went just 6-7.

UNC tied with USC to lead all schools with nine players selected. Yet in their careers the Tar Heels have not even won a division title under Butch Davis.

Miami finished third with seven players taken in the NFL Draft. Those players talent got the coach who recruited them, Randy Shannon, fired after this past season.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com had an interesting article a few months back trying to explain why all this talent in the ACC was going to waste.

"From 2006-2009, the SEC beat the ACC by exactly one draft pick, 149-148. In that same span, the ACC led the country with 30 first-round choices. Among them: Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan (Atlanta, third overall, 2008); Virginia defensive lineman Chris Long (St. Louis, second overall, 2008); Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson (Detroit, second overall, 2007) and North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams (Houston, first overall, 2006).There is that disconnect, though, that should make the ACC also stand for Anomaly and Conundrum Conference. It has been the least successful power conference in BCS bowls (2-11). The ACC won the second BCS title (Florida State over Virginia Tech, 1999), none since. At roughly the same time the league expanded in 2004-05, Miami began slumping. Florida State was already sliding compared to its lofty accomplishments of the past. Those two programs remain the ACC flagships in name only. Virginia Tech has been the most consistent performer of the expansion era, winning three of the last four conference titles. "

The quick answer would be coaching, but I don't think it is that simple.

I think the answer lies in the depth of the league's talent base.

The ACC has elite talent on par with any conference in the country, including the SEC, but they lack the overall depth of the SEC especially along the line of scrimmage.

The 10th best defensive lineman in a conference is not likely to get drafted but that player is at a much higher level in the SEC than any other conference. Those are the kinda players that add the missing pieces to a national title team.

As Dodd goes on to mention, players like Calvin Johnson were surrounded by a much lower talent than most other schools with a top five pick.

Until the ACC gets more depth and raises the overall talent level they will continue to struggle against high level BCS competition.

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