As muddled a league as it was, the actual results in the ACC weren't as upside-down from the summer guesses as might be expected - from the preseason consensus of 18 publications at Stassen.com, from most underrated to most overrated:
|Virginia||4th Coast.||2nd Coast. (6-2)||+ 2||P.Steele, Surefire (T-3rd)||SportsForm (5th)|
|Wake Forest||4th Atl.||T-2nd Atl. (5-3)||+ 2||SI, S&S (2nd)||Surefire, SportsForm (6th)|
|Boston Coll.||2nd Atl.||1st Atl. (6-3)||+ 1||Four 1st Place Picks||P. Steele (6th)|
|Clemson||3rd Atl.||T-2nd Atl. (5-3)||+ 1||Surefire (T-2nd)||Four 5th Place Picks|
|NC State||6th Atl.||T-5th Atl. (3-5)||+ 1||Four 5th Place Picks||P. Steele (T-3rd)|
|N. Carolina||5th Coast.||4th Coast. (3-5)||+ 1||SportsForm (4th)||Everybody (5th)|
|Duke||6th Coast.||6th Coast. (0-8)||-||Everybody (6th)||None|
|Maryland||5th Atl.||T-5th Atl. (3-5)||-||Five 5th Place Picks||CFN (1st)|
|Va. Tech||1st Coast.||1st Coast. (8-1)||-||Everybody (1st)||ATS Consulting (2nd)|
|Geo. Tech||2nd Coast.||3rd Coast. (4-4)||-1||Seven 3rd Place Picks||Eleven 2nd Place Picks|
|Miami||3rd Coast.||5th Coast. (2-6)||-2||Ten 3rd Place Picks||Eight 2nd Place Picks|
|Fla. State||1st Atl.||3rd Atl. (4-4)||-3||CFN, S&S (3rd)||Ten 1st Place Picks|
Virginia is the biggest overachiever: no one picked UVA higher than a tie for third in the Coastal, and the Cavs were playing Virginia Tech (which all but poor ATS Consulting got right at the top of the Coastal) for the division title on the last week of the season; outside of the division format, UVA tied Boston College for the second-best conference record in the regular season, was probably a full six-seven spots better than the consensus would have guessed if it ranked the teams 1-12. That's what winning six games by five points or less will do for you. For Wake Forest, too, again - more on the Deacons later.
New management did not pay the expected dividends for the Florida schools, which were the most overrated, again. Almost no one thought Florida State would finish worse than second in the Atlantic and no one had Miami worse than third in the Coastal, when the Canes would actually lose to North Carolina and NC State, get blown away in the Orange Bowl farewell against Virginia and finish with the worst conference record outside of Duke (although they did beat Florida State).
Not that I have any room to critique preseason Sunshine love, as no pundit anywhere swallowed the notion of coaches rejuvenating superior talent at the old standbys as wholly as yours truly. On Miami:
- - -
- - -
Yeah, man, it was pretty ugly.
- - -
- - -
Re: Wake Forest, I was fairly adamant about the Deacons' return to the pack:
- - -
I was with the pack that put Clemson, Georgia Tech and (obviously) Duke in the right place at the beginning of the year, but was wrong in some way about almost every one else. The proudest non-obvious moment of my ACC forecasting might have been a throwaway explanation for North Carolina's ongoing pain:
Justify Thyself: [Butch] Davis has to assume the position for a year or two and let his little Tar Heels learn the hard way how to compete. Expect a lot of admirable efforts, a couple scares against the certifiably terrible offenses of the ACC, but very few wins. Still better than Duke.
- - -