ACC Preseason Media Poll
All-ACC Preseason Team
Virginia Tech defeated Florida State 44-33 in the ACC Championship game last season to claim its 4th ACC title since 2004, and third in the last four years. Both teams have to replace their starting QB's in 2011 as the Hokies' Tyrod Taylor was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and the Seminoles' Christian Ponder was taken by the Minnesota Vikings.
Nonetheless, the computer expects these two teams to meet again in the ACC Championship game at Charlotte on December 3rd. It also believes both teams will be ranked in the top ten when that meeting takes place and that the Hokies will again prevail, albeit by just a 1.25-point margin.
Virginia Tech is 47-9 in regular season ACC games since joining the conference in 2004.
Virginia Tech's schedule ranks 92nd among all 120 FBS teams and only Connecticut's schedule ranks easier among BCS automatic qualifier schools. So despite an expected 13-0 mark headed into the bowl season, the Hokies could still miss out on a BCS Championship slot.
Florida State's only expected loss in the regular season comes at home against Oklahoma when the 'Noles are 7.46-point underdogs. The Sooners clobbered FSU 47-17 in Norman last year.
Jimbo Fisher's second campaign begins with a healthy power rating lead on all of the other Atlantic Division members. Boston College, Clemson, Maryland and N.C. State are within 4.44 points of each other, but trail the Seminoles by 7.09 or more. The computer takes the Wolfpack to emerge from that battle in 2nd place with B.C., Maryland and Clemson all finishing 7-5. Wake Forest is nearly a lock to bring up the rear as the Demon Deacons trail FSU by over 18 power points and the rest of the division by 6.67 or more.
Virginia Tech has a commanding edge in the Coastal Division as it begins the season with a 13.37 power point edge on Miami. No other team in the division is expected to win more than 4 ACC games. North Carolina is actually picked to take 2nd with an 8-4 mark, while Miami, Virginia and Georgia Tech each go 5-7 while vying for 3rd. Duke is picked to win 3 games but would still find itself back in the basement where it has finished 9 of the past 11 seasons.
The balance of power has shifted from the Coastal to the Atlantic. The computer sees four more bowl eligible teams rising from FSU's half of the draw, but only one (North Carolina) from the Hokies' side.
NCAA investigations have taken their toll on Coastal Division teams. North Carolina's troubles began in the summer of 2010 and came to a head when Butch Davis was fired as on July 27th after months of NCAA investigations. The next day, the Tar Heels announced they promoted defensive coordinator Everett Withers to interim head coach and Dick Baddour, Director of Athletics, submitted his resignation. "To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it's time to make a change," said Chancellor Holden Thorp. "What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this University's reputation."
Georgia Tech was cited by the NCAA this summer (July 14) and given four years of probation as a repeat offender. The Jackets were forced to vacate all contests won during the 2009 season after November 24, including its ACC Championship victory over Clemson.
A 3rd Coastal member, Miami, came under the threat of potentially serious sanctions just as Fall practices were getting underway. As a result of the allegations made by convicted Ponzi scheme operator Nevin Shapiro, the Hurricanes suspended QB Jacory Harris and seven other players in hopes of receiving a notice of reinstatement from the NCAA in time for their opener at Maryland on Labor Day Monday.
New head coach Al Golden is now left to clean up the mess after accepting the job as Randy Shannon's replacement last December. Shannon was dismissed after a 23-20 overtime home loss to USF in the 'Canes season finale, a week after seeing his record drop to 1-3 against their main Coastal Division rival Virginia Tech. Shannon was 28-22 in four seasons after replacing Larry Coker. His teams were just 16-16 in ACC conference games and never finished better than 5-3 in league play.
Golden takes a giant step up from Temple where the 41-year-old turned a dreadful program into a winner. He was 27-34 in five seasons at the Philadelphia school, including a 9-4 record and a bowl bid in 2009. Golden's 2010 team was 8-4, but was one of just two bowl eligible teams that was not given a slot in any of the season's 35 bowl games.
Maryland begins the Randy Edsall era after luring the UConn head coach to College Park. That announcement came on January 2, less than 24 hours after Edsall's Huskies lost 48-20 to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall spent 12 years at Storrs and led the school's transition to 1-A (now FBS) in 2000 and its entry into the Big East in 2004. He was 74-70 overall, 70-63 in the FBS ranks, and 50-37 overall since joining the Big East. UConn made five bowl appearances on his watch and won three.
Edsall replaces Ralph Friedgen who completed his 10-year run with a record of 75-50 with a 51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Maryland announced on December 20 that it would buy out the final year of his contract, despite being named ACC Coach of the Year after an 8-4 season and a return to postseason play. Friedgen's teams posted a 42-36 mark in ACC games and a 5-2 record in bowl games. He brought the school an outright ACC title in his first season in 2001 but failed to duplicate that feat.
Maryland offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting, James Franklin, had already been taken away by Vanderbilt when the Commodores named him as their new head coach on December 17.
10 of the 12 ACC teams head coaches have four seasons or less of experience at their current school while Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer returns for a 25th anniversary season. FSU's Fisher, Clemson's Dabo Swinney, Boston College's Frank Spaziani and UNC's Withers have no other collegiate head coaching experience at all, and Virginia's Mike London had just two years in the FCS ranks.