Johnson On The Orange - Where's The ACC?
Posted Jan 5, 2012

Terry Johnson on the state of the ACC after the Orange Bowl

With the next round of realignment scheduled to take place in the next year or two, there has been plenty of speculation about which conferences deserve an automatic bid to the BCS.

After watching the past two Orange Bowls, do not be surprised if BCS officials discuss whether or not the ACC should retain its AQ status.

No, the ACC will not lose its automatic berth in the BCS. The level of play in the ACC is clearly superior to any of the non-AQ conferences, and should be noticeably better than the Big East in future seasons with the defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia.

However, tonight's blowout loss in the Orange Bowl shows that the ACC still has a considerable amount of work to do in order to catch up with the other major conferences. The loss dropped the ACC's record to 2-15 in BCS bowl games, which is by far the worst record among AQ conferences.

It looked like things might take a turn for the better this year. Virginia Tech garnered the conference's first ever at-large bid, and nearly upset a heavily favored Michigan team in the Sugar Bowl.

Then Clemson faced West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

The Mountaineers handed Clemson one of the most embarrassing losses in bowl history. They simply lined up and whipped the ACC's best team in every facet of the game, establishing a number of BCS bowl records along the way. By losing in such a convincing manner to a lightly regarded opponent, the ACC lost any type of respect that it earned during the non-conference season.

So what is next for the ACC?

If the conference ever wants to shed the label of the "All Cupcake Conference", it needs to start winning more bowl games. Finishing 2-6 during the postseason will not earn anyone's respect.

In addition, ACC teams need to place a greater emphasis on winning the Orange Bowl, as they have lost 10 of the last 11. With the BCS rumored to focus solely on the national championship game, each of the major bowls will be free to negotiate with anyone for the right to play in that game. Will the Orange Bowl want to sign a long-term deal with a conference that always loses?