To refresh, the ACC went 15-13 with their OOC games against BCS opponents. (This is actually the second best win/loss percentage of the 7 conferences examined - second only to the MWC.)
So what is up with that? We all KNOW that the ACC isn't an elite conference, so lets get into the explanation:
With the ACC, we need to look at three levels of teams. First we have the bottom feeders: Virginia and Duke last year. Between those two teams, they went 1-3. Duke actually mustered a quality win against Vanderbuilt. But they also lost against USC, Northwestern & Connecticut. Obviously the USC loss was expected. The other two losses were a little more painful because NW & Conn are not exactly power houses, they aren't the bottom feeders, but they are not competitive with the top of their respective conferences either.
OK so far, so good, no surprises yet.
Now for the 6 teams that all had 8 wins last season . . . They went 8-8. A very solid record for the middle of the pack. They had quality wins (and losses) against Cal & Rutgers. They had three losses to the top of other conferences such as Alabama, Florida and I'll even throw in West Virginia. So a few predictable losses, and a couple decent wins, and then the rest of the record gets split. Again, a solid performance from the middle of the league.
And finally, the top 4 teams went 6-2. A very solid record. A little bad news here however is that of the 8 games played by the top 4 teams, only 2 and maybe 3 of those games could be considered games against the top of the other conferences. The other 6 or 5 games were against mediocre teams. None that were true bottom feeders, but most were on the lower half of their respective conference. The two solid wins were against Cincinnati and Georgia, and if you want, you could throw in Nebraska, a nine win team, but I wouldn't. The losses came against Vanderbuilt - a very surprising season last year, and LSU, a surprisingly mediocre season last year.
So overall, the ACC had a great overall season. Their top teams beat other top teams, and punished the middle teams from other conferences. I think a record 10 teams from the ACC went to bowl games - congratulations. I guess the disrespect shown the ACC of late, (not including after this first week's nightmare performance) comes from the fact that the ACC used to supply a NC contender, and hasn't done that for nearly a decade. But still, the conference was competitive last year and should be given more respect - they have earned it.
Now the Big East which went 9-9. A seemingly solid performance. But upon further consideration, not as solid as we thought.
Consider first the bottom 4 teams last year . . . which went 5-4. Actually a pretty good record, especially considering that one of those four losses came against the top of the Big 10 - Penn State. So if we throw out the expected loss, a very respectable 5-3 for the bottom of a conference. Even if all they played were bottom feeders from other conferences, these 4 teams shouldn't expect to do much better than bat .500, but they actually pulled off a winning record against mostly middle of the pack teams from other conferences. They should be commended.
But the top of the conference just can't hang with the top of other conferences, at least not last year. They lost all 3 contests against teams at or near the top of their leagues - including Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Oregon State. All of these losses were by the top two teams in this league. So it isn't like the sorta upper middle class lost to the absolute best teams, rather it was the top team loosing twice to other top teams, and the second place team loosing to another 2nd place team. The rest of the record of 4-5 was 4 middle class wins and a couple more losses to middle class teams.
The problem with the Big East is that their 'Elite' teams haven't been able to compete well with the tops of the other leagues. Trully, the Big East has played themselves into a position of ridicule and disrespect. But overall, their conference has shown an ability to be more solid all the way to the bottom, rather than top heavy. So in reality, since there isn't the disparity found in other conferences, a more gruelling in-conference schedule would be found in the Big East rather than the SEC which is who we will evaluate in the next post. If the top of the conference is mediocre, and the bottom of the league is also pretty solid, that results in far more parity, and a far more competitive conference. What seems harder, Florida or Alabama walking through Arkansas, Miss State and Kentucky, or Cincinnati trying to beat South Florida, Louisville and Syracuse?
Anyhow, we'll talk SEC next.