ACC Notebook: What Just Happened?
By Eric Russell
This is why we — ACC fans — can't have nice things.
The ACC had its chance. The distinction of game of the year, century or whatever hyperbole you prefer had been reserved solely for SEC showdowns. But it seemed like another conference finally would get some shine.
One problem: Clemson didn't get the memo.
My editor at a newspaper in the heart of the palmetto state brought up a good point. This particular letdown stings a bit more for the Tigers. In past years, Florida State was better than Clemson in every way. The Seminoles always seemed to have an overwhelming advantage when it came to intangibles, the key players and momentum. This year that didn't seem to be the case. However, the result was one that some have come to expect from the Tigers in recent years.
Back in September, Swinney went on a rant about how he was tired of hearing about Clemson not getting the job done in big games. He said he was sure there are a lot of people tired of hearing about it. Clemson didn't do what it needed to do in order to put that notion to rest Saturday.
So the conference will have to wait for its next chance when Miami and Florida State do battle. Unless, of course, Virginia Tech ruins that.
The Clemson result wasn't the only happening in college football to leave me scratching my head, though. Forget all the carnage around the NCAA and Steve Spurrier's questionable play calling and usage of timeouts in the fourth quarter; a couple of the ACC results were just as puzzling. For example, the Georgia Tech blowout. Not because I expected Syracuse to win. It just seemed like it would be a better game. The most shocking to me was the Maryland result.
The Maryland Of Yesteryear
Maryland looked pretty good most of the season, minus the Florida State debacle. After barely escaping Virginia, the Terps came into Saturday with a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time under Randy Edsall.
Instead they made things easy for Wake Forest's one-dimensional offense and lost, 34-10. C.J. Brown looked a bit rusty returning from his concussion and his turnovers gave the Demon Deacons good position.
Even bigger than the loss were the injuries. Last season it was the quarterback position. This year it's the wide receivers.
Maryland lost star receiver Stefon Diggs and fellow receiver Deon Long for the season. The sophomore Diggs broke his right fibula and Long broke his tibia and fibula. Both will be out until the spring, making things much more difficult for the team, which had the fifth-best passing offense in the ACC going into last week's game.
Long Miami Saga Ends
That self-imposed bowl ban by Miami last season certainly paid off.
Word came Tuesday that Miami avoided a postseason ban this year and will only lose nine total scholarships during the next three seasons. That's pretty much a win for Miami and the ACC. It's been a train wreck, and thankfully it is being put to rest.
The saga did feature one of my favorite pieces of irony in terms of the NCAA's ridiculousness. A few months after the NCAA admitted to improper conduct and fired the head of enforcement, they said Miami lacked "institutional control."
At least this year there won't be a need to have bogus Coastal Division championship rings made.