Monday, March 26, 2012

How Pitt football matches up in the ACC

This is how I see the football programs as of now in the ACC, with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse.


1.  Florida State-  It's hard to believe but in the last eleven years the Seminoles have won 10 games only two times.  But new coach Jimbo Fisher has won 19 games over the last two years, the talent level is always enormous, and the fan base is passionate.  They get the top spot because while they don't have the highs that Miami has had in the past, they also don't have the lows.

2.  Miami-  Over the last 30 years, no program have won more National Championships or had more legendary players.  But "The U" hasn't been great in awhile now.  In fact, the Hurricanes haven't had a 10 win season in nine years and they are 33-31 in conference play since joining the ACC.  Plus, there's always a chance that another person will come out of the woodwork to say he gave players improper benefits.  On the bright side, Al Golden is an excellent coach and should be able to bring the program around.

3.  Virginia Tech-  Since joining the conference, the Hokies have actually been the best on the field.  In the eight seasons in the ACC, Tech has won their division six times and was second the other two times. They've also won either 10 or 11 games in every ACC season.  So why are they third?  Obviously Florida State and Miami have higher ceilings and if they ever get it together they will once again take their rightful place above Virginia Tech.  However, having said that, Frank Beamer has done an amazing job turning a program from a school in the middle of nowhere into a national power.

4.  Clemson-  One of the more underachieving programs in the country, in my opinion.  The Tigers usually average around 8 wins a year, but they have huge fan support, a great local recruiting area, and some of the deepest pockets in college football.  Dabo Swinney has had three full seasons and had 9 and 10 win seasons in that span, so maybe he's finally starting to turn the program into the power it probably should be.

5.  Georgia Tech-  Since the conference split into divisions seven years ago, the Yellow Jackets have won the Coastal Division three times, including two of the last four under current coach Paul Johnson.  But Johnson won 19 total games in his first two seasons and 14 in his last two, so it will be interesting to see if the rest of the conference caught up to his unique style.  Either way, the program usually does well with 13 of their last 15 teams being winners and 7 of those being ranked in the final top 25.

6.  Pittsburgh-  Since this is written for Pitt fans, there's no need to go over what everybody knows, but what is important is that the Pitt administration has made many mistakes over the past 30 years and the overall program is still one of the top 40 programs in the country. The good news is, the ceiling is higher than they've performed and if they ever get out of their way, they can be even better than this ranking in future years.

7.  North Carolina-  Yet another underachieving ACC program and probably the biggest underachievers at that.  Even though they are a basketball program first, there is still a lot there for the football program to be very good.  But since Mack Brown left after the 1997 season, the Tar Heels have been led by one bad coach after another, and Butch Davis even got the school on probation.  Now it's Larry Fedora's chance to turn things around.

8.  Virginia-  The Cavaliers program is always going to be limited because of their high academic standards, but because of a great local recruiting area and an amazing campus, they have been very competitive over the years.  Al Groh was considered a success for the most part at the school and he still only went 59-53 at the school.  Now Mike London is one of the best young coaches in the country so it will be interesting to see how far he can take them.

9.  Maryland-  Granted, Randy Edsall was an absolute disaster in his lone season, but with Mike Locksley back in the fold to recruit, the Terrapins should have the talent again to compete.  The local recruiting area is great which is a big plus.  That's a good thing because the school is going broke and their recruiting budget is practically nonexistent.

10.  Boston College-  As in the Big East, the Eagles should be applauded for being such overachievers.  They don't have a great local recruiting area yet they still usually have winning seasons.  In fact, in the seven seasons that they've been in the ACC, their conference record is 33-23.  However, the record has been declining every season, perhaps a sign that the worst is yet to come.

11.  North Carolina State-  How mediocre has the Wolfpack program been?  How about the fact that in the modern era of college football, they've had exactly one season where they had double digit wins? And that team finished just 5-3 in the conference.  Tom O'Brien is currently 33-30 which sounds just about right.

12.  Syracuse-  Historically, the Orange is much higher than this, and they have the potential to move further up on the list, but right now things are a bit iffy.  Greg Robinson was a disaster and Doug Marrone is currently 17-20 in his three seasons, though the talent level is improving.  But with little local recruiting area, the ceiling is limited.


13.  Wake Forest-  Thanks to Jim Grobe, the program has been respectable and in 2006 he miraculously led the Demon Deacons to an 11-3 Orange Bowl season.  But there hasn't been a winning record in the last three years and you have to wonder how well they will do without the 60-year old Grobe at the helm.  History shows that it won't be good.

14.  Duke-  What can I say?  It's a basketball school and there doesn't seem to be a big desire to create a competitive football program.  Two bowl games in 50 years says it all.

39 comments:

  1. chris, travon chapman actually visited pitt the other day. do you know if he enjoyed it?

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  2. Right now I cannot see anyone but Va Tech being No. 1. Your comment about Miami and Fl State having higher ceilings has merit but until it starts translating on the field with any kind of regularity, I have to stay with Beamer Ball.

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  3. I agree with the comment above. Virginia Tech should be number one as you use the words "as of now" to open the article. At some future time FSU and Miami may pass the Hokies but that is not where things are today.

    I agree with Pitt's location in the conference.

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  4. Since they've been in the ACC Virginia Tech has had the best teams, but I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody who would say they are a better program than FSU and Miami. To me, the best definition of a great program is one that in pretty much any one year could go all the way, no matter what their record in the past. And FSU and Miami definitely fit that bill. They pretty much always have the potential to win a National Championship. Virginia Tech doesn't. They have lesser talent. The reason they have won more lately is because they have a better coach but now that Golden and Fisher are getting established, I think they are on the verge of catapulting over the Hokies again.

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    1. i agree with your point about talent. miami and and fsu have just as much talent as alabama and lsu, all the power houses, but the coaching has been terrible. i, however, dont know how well jimbo fisher will do. you can say hes getting established, but its not like there wasnt talent there. im not familiar with the systems they used to run before he got there, but theyve had top 10 classes for as long as i can remember. they were a good team last year, very young, so if they dont do better this year its got to be the coaching. im not sure what to think about golden, though. too soon to tell.

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    2. Chris,

      I'd have NO compunction in stating that Va Tech is every bit the football team and program that the Univeristy of Miami is.
      Can we be frank? Miami's greatness was built around circumventing and breakiing the rules of college football. They were an SMU-like program without the SMU repercussions after being caught by the tail in numerous violations after Jimmy Johnson fled the city.
      Chris, I have rarely seen a U team since then that bares a resemblance to those great U teams. Does anyone believe Jacory Harris could lead a team to the National Title game? I'm not so sure Golden will be able to sell the boys of Liberty City on ethics and hard work. Miami is what it is............. a city built on greed and avarice, and to expect more from its football players is nothing more than a pipe dream. Mix in the rise of UCF, USF,& FL Atlantic and the talent pool is even further diluted in Florida.
      _____________________________________________________

      @pk,

      NO Miami and FSU do not have the talent of 'Bama and LSU. Right now it's not even close. Sadly many a northeasterner has no idea just how powerful the SEC really is!
      Jimbo Fisher will do well, as FSU was more or less stagnant for the last 10 years under Bobby Bowden who was head coach in name only. Fisher is more hands on and has got a dynamic program going, but one that still needs to be fine tuned.

      Pittbull

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    3. In terms of recruiting class rankings, they absolutely have comparable talent

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    4. Bama is usually top 5, miami top 10

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  5. Chris,

    Has there ever been a book written documenting the football traditions of the different geographical areas? For instance, I cannot get over how bad the overall football talent is in the Northeast? There are such great population centers in the Northeast, where is the talent? Taking this a step further, do you think there is a coorelation between the end of the Pitt/Penn State game, and a downturn in interest in college football in PA? I assume that if these schools still played, more in state talent would want to stay in PA. I am just interested in your thoughts.

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  6. @ANONYMOUS (ABOVE)

    I don't think the talent pool in the northeast is as bad as you and I often beleive. What I do think is that the northeastern football mentality has failed to adapt to the speed of the game and some new and innovative stuff that is being implemented elsewhere across the country.
    In my old highschool the same schlepp's that led my alma mater to losing records on the field are now the head coaches who lead the boys to non-winning seasons. These are the guys you can find at the VFW and Croatian Club on the weekend sucking down suds with a chew in their mouth. The game has passed these guys by, yet they are still given the opportunity to ruin a new batch of high school football players each fall.

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    1. Sounds like my high school too!!

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    2. It's all about the speed!!!

      As far as wpial... problem is it is less competitive than it was 30 years ago. Why... declining enrollment... more sports choices... more sports going year round.
      That said, the kids making the wpial HS team, wouldn't have a prayer making the team 30 years ago.

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    3. My nephew is a perfect example..
      Plays for AAA parkway conference wpial team.
      May be a starter next season..
      He is slow, weak, lazy (doesn't put the work in)... and he is a starter!!! Ridiculous...

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    4. Pitt has been getting around 8 WPIAL players a year. That's all they need. They just have to be the right ones. If they lose most of the elite prospects and take lesser locals because of it, then they're going to be just another program. But if Pitt got Robert Foster, Patrick Kugler, Dorian Johnson, Tyler Boyd, Scott Orndoff, Chavas Rawlins, and Hodari Christian this year then they would be a top 20 team in the future. That's what the past great Pitt teams did. Pitt's program suffers because they can't even get the top kids in their own backyard. Until they do, they will continue to suffer.

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    5. In 2012 recruiting class (which was the best talent in recent years), WPIAL sent 17 kids to BCS schools.... 6 of them went to Pitt.

      It's not realistic to think Pitt will land ALL the top players however it needs to land at least 50% of the 4star type players. If they can't land 4star players out of wpial, highly unlikely they will land 4star recruits outside of the wpial in the near future.

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    6. More stats...
      of the 5 4star recruits out of the wpial in 2012, Pitt landed 3 of them or 60%.
      I don't think it is reasonable to expect that they 100% of 4star... but at least 50%. Goes to show just not enough talent coming out of the wpial to depend on building a program.

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    7. Joe D.,

      Your analysis is based on a rather large assumption: that the "star system" is an accurate reflection of the talent and/or ability of someone to succeed in college FB.

      I think Dokish (and MANY others) would find that logic flawed.

      RKR

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  7. Chris:

    Generally agree with your list. But has there been a more overrated team than VaTech the last ten years? I don't think so. The last three seasons in the big east they were just one game over .500. And this in a conference that had the two worst teams in the country at the time -Temple and Rutgers. It is a fine program and I hope Pitt can win as many games in the weak ACC as Tech has. But the record shows they lose each year to the best teams they play. Yet they each year often are considered among the best in the country. This never makes sense to me but espn I think needs to play up one or more teams in each conference as equal to national championship caliber.

    One thing I don't agree with you is characterizing the DC area as filled with great talent. While the area has improved a lot the past 20 years it is still not as good as a declining western pa area. Keep in mind that the western pa still typically produces more D-1 players than the DC area even though. dc metro area is 3x as big as the Pgh metro area. And if you consider the aged population then it is likely western PA has even fewer high school students then the metro population would indicate (seniors don't have kids in high school). There is some top talent for sure in DC but it is not overall a great area for high school football. Pitt can't ignore it and I wish they were recruiting harder in DC but to call this area great is not accurate.

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    1. It's not just DC, it's also Maryland, northern Virginia, and even some southern PA. Maryland hits all of those areas. The DC/MD area together has about ten excellent players every year that if Maryland kept, they would be pretty good. Just this year Maryland got 5 star Stefon Diggs and other MD kids went to Penn State, Alabama, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Georgia, and Florida State. That's pretty good, needless to say. And DC had 5 star Eddie Goldman go to FSU and Colorado got a 4 star DB. if Maryland can keep more of those kids at home they can be much better.

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    2. I can tell you for a fact that living in both western PA and Northern VA the HS football in western PA absolutely DESTROYS northern VA.

      And I went to HS and played HS football in Northern VA. I received better coaching in Pop Warner when I was in the 4th grade than anything I got in HS.

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    3. Hurriquake..
      There are only about 20-25 good HS football programs in the wpial. The rest, well, it's a social event.

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  8. At first, I thought Pitt seemed high. And then I read the rest of the list and it made perfect sense to me. I will say that Syracuse's history should at least put them in the top 10. What has NC State ever done in football?

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    1. Like I said, it's not over their entire history. It's where their program stands right now. NC State hasn't done much lately, or ever for that matter, but for the time being, they are in slightly better shape than Syracuse. I think Syracuse can pass them up in the near future, though.

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    2. Chris,

      When I say DC, I mean the whole metro area. Yes there are very good players in the DC metro area. Andd yes if Maryland could keep most of the top players home they would be more competitive in the ACC. But my point was simply the area is overrated given the fact it is 3x larger than Pittsburgh but does not produce more D1 recruits. Another 15 years or so and the DC area might be better than Pgh if the former keeps growing in population while the latter declines. Minneapolis is not a great recruiting area just because Larry Fitzgerald came out of that area. There certainly is some top talent in the area but overall it is still not as fertile as western PA, again given its size compared to west PA. There is also more competitive balance in Pgh area as the DC area private/parochial schools typically are superior to public school competition.

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    3. I never said the area was better than western PA, because it's not. I just said that if Maryland can keep their elite level players from their local area at home then they will be a very good team.

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  9. I live in the DC area and, trust me, the talent is here. The problem is the volume of schools due to the population. Because there are so many schools, the coaching is oversaturated and very poor. I live in NOVA and there are 4 High Schools within 5 miles of me and they all have football programs.

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  10. It seems to me Pitt is focusing a lot on Ohio for recruiting.
    Mistake...
    Albeit Ohio is better football than wpial and produces more BCS type players, it is also the most competive place for Pitt to try to land players from... going up against OSU, MSU, Michigan, PSU not to mention the MAC teams!!!
    Why no focus on central or east PA is beyond me!

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    1. So,

      Pitt should NOT focus on WPIAL players - they stink!!

      Pitt should NOT try to get players from Ohio - they are for the "good" college football programs!

      Should Pitt aviod central PA? That is PSU country, you know...

      I'm not sure where you expect Pitt to get recruits.

      RKR

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    2. Yes... wpial stinks... slow, slow, slow...
      Ohio tough to land prospects...

      not very competitive in east pa, md, va...

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  11. If I were coach Chryst I'd hire a drug rep from Merck or Pfizer to recruit. These guys could sell ice to an eskimo!

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    1. LOL...
      Their pitch is 3minutes or less!!!!
      and they close the sale!!!

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  12. 53 Offers made so far....
    18 to Ohio players...
    15 to PA players...

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  13. Amazing how R.Shell and now Rob Foster telling everyone how much money they are going to make in the NFL... even tweeting about it..
    and they haven't touched the ball in college yet..
    smh..

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    1. Joe D,

      So, Pitt should avoid players that have the dream of making the NFL and signing one of those multi-million dollar contracts we've all heard about...is that your point??

      When you try to claim that Sheel and Fostar are going to fail, remember these wise words...

      "they haven't touched the ball in college yet.."

      RKR

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    2. No...
      point being... they are talking about it now...
      humble...
      R.Shell mom was counting the NFL money since he was in 9th grade and telling everyone in town... similar to dupree!!
      no problem with having the dream..

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    3. btw...
      I'm on record saying Shell will be another Dupree...
      not Foster..
      lets see if he continues to put the work in this year before I saying anything on Foster..
      Right now... I'd say Foster will have an NFL career and Shell will not!!

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    4. Just for fun I looked up Dupree's stats...

      At OU he played 15 games and ran for 1513 yards an 15 TD. That is a TD and 100 yards every game. I'd take that. I don't think that includes the bowl game were he rushed for over 200 and a couple other TD's

      Too bad he was misled by the people around him, his uncle, coach Switzer, and that weasel "reverend" guy...

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    5. I'm a Pitt alumnus who was there for the glory days but Clemson supporter now (all my children have gone to Clemson). You are probably right with Clemson 4 and Pitt at 6, for now. Pitt can only wish it had the electricity of Memorial Stadium on game day. I was hoping that the Panthers would get into the Tigers' side of the ACC, so we could go to either Heinz Field or Death Valley every year, but Clemson got Syracuse instead. So we'll have to do with an every other year matchup, most likely.

      By the way, have you looked at the FSU vs. Clemson record over the last 5 years? Not in the Seminoles' favor.

      EAS

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  14. Actually a bit surprised at your ranking of Pitt in the top half of the ACC, but reading your rationale, it makes sense and appears to be reasonable. Just goes to show how relatively weak the ACC is, as I don't think Pitt is in the top half of the Big 12, Big 10, and definitely NOT the SEC.
    As for recruiting, does Pitt need to recruit better players? . . ABSOLUTELY, is PC the aggressive recruiter he needs to be to get them . . . inital results suggest he is not. Like it or not, Pitt fans will have to wait and pray that PC's recruiting approach works in the long run and that is not defeatist, that is facing reality. PC is what he says he is and he's not going to change. I take solace in hearing about how he is reaching out to develop relationships with local area coaches. Its my experience that WPa HS coaches have a larger influence on their HS players than may be typical in other areas of the country, and WPa coaches will likely take to PC's style as opposed to the used car salesmen, self-promoting jerk that just left.

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