2014 ACC Football Kickoff: A Look Back At The ACC Media Poll

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

Who's been chronic overachievers and who's been chronic underachievers?

The start of college football's actual season might be a month away, but with the SEC kicking off its media festival this week, the countdown can begin in earnest towards the first first down of the 2014 season.  With that comes the annual prognostication of who we can expect to be better (and worse) than early returns.

Over the past five seasons, there's been a clear choice amongst the media faithful on who they think will rule the ACC.  Bear in mind that Maryland is no longer a factor, and both Syracuse and Pittsburgh obviously weren't ACC programs before this season.

Atlantic Division 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 5 Year Avg.
Boston College 6 3 4 5 7 5.0
Clemson 2 2 2 2 1 1.8
Florida State 1 1 1 1 2 1.2
Maryland 5 6 5 6 5 5.4
North Carolina State 3 4 3 3 3 3.2
Wake Forest 4 5 6 4 4 4.6
(Syracuse) -- -- -- -- 6 6.0 (1 season)
Coastal Division 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 5 Year Avg.
Duke 6 5 6 6 7 6.0
Georgia Tech 2 3 4 2 4 3.0
Miami 4 2 2 5 1 2.8
North Carolina 3 4 3 3 3 3.2
Virginia 5 6 5 4 6 5.2
Virginia Tech 1 1 1 1 2 1.2
(Pittsburgh) -- -- -- -- 5 5.0

Now compare to the actual finish of the teams during their seasons, paired with how much higher or lower they finished than their predicted slot:

Atlantic Division 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 5 Year Avg.
Boston College 2 (+4) 4 (-1) 5 (-1) 6 (-1) 4 (+3) 4.2 (+0.8)
Clemson 1 (+1) 5 (-3) 1 (+1) 2 (0) 2 (-1) 2.2 (-0.4)
Florida State 3 (-2) 1 (0) 2 (-1) 1 (0) 1 (+1) 2.7 (-0.4)
Maryland 6 (-1) 2 (+4) 6 (-1) 5 (+1) 5 (0) 4.8 (+0.8)
North Carolina State 5 (-2) 3 (+1) 4 (-1) 3 (0) 7 (-4) 4.4 (-1.4)
Wake Forest 4 (0) 6 (-1) 3 (+3) 4 (0) 6 (-2) 4.2 (0.0)
Syracuse -- -- -- -- 3 (+3) 3.0 (+3.0); 1 season
Coastal Division
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
5 Year Avg.
Duke
5 (+1)
6 (-1)
6 (0)
5 (+1)
1 (+6)
4.6 (+1.4)
Georgia Tech
1 (+1)
4 (-1)
3 (+1)
1 (+1)
4 (0)
2.6 (+0.4)
Miami
3 (+1)
2 (0)
5 (-3)
3 (-2)
2 (-1)
3.0 (-1.0)
North Carolina
4 (-1)
3 (+1)
4 (-1)
2 (+1)
2 (+1)
3.0 (+0.2)
Virginia
6 (-1)
5 (+1)
2 (+3)
6 (-2)
7 (-1)
5.2 (0.0)
Virginia Tech
2 (-1)
1 (0)
1 (0)
4 (-3)
3 (-1)
2.0 (-1.0)
Pittsburgh
--
--
--
--
6 (-1)
6.0 (-1.0); 1 season

The first thing that jumps off the page is the media's clear love for Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.  Even if Florida State didn't return the Heisman Trophy winner from a team that won the national title last year, we can rightly assume the Seminoles would be either first or second in this year's poll.  Ironically, the one time they were voted to finish second - they won the national title.

As for Virginia Tech, the Hokies are exhibit A as to when the media is either a genius or absolutely off its gord.  The last couple of years, the Hokies faced heightened expectations and fell flat, but before that, they were a solid team.  That's why their standard deviation off their projected finish was so off-balanced (a full one deviation average from prediction to finish) but still with a high average finish.

All of this translates to a hyper competitive Atlantic Division race.  We can assume that Clemson and FSU will probably be at the top of the division, but after that, the race is on.  Nearly everyone averages around the same slot, and it'll be interesting to see what happens with the Syracuse over a larger sample size.  It'll also be interesting to see what happens to Louisville joining the division, along with the subtraction of Maryland.

Certain teams each year are able to play the "no respect" card better than others.  The only team that can really play that card more frequently and with better consistency than the others, though, is BC.  The Eagles are a team that average nearly a full slot higher than their predicted finish over a five year average, twice finishing three or more slots higher than predicted.  This past year, their fourth place finish was actually a tie for second that lost out on head-to-head thanks to the Syracuse loss.  So in actuality, the number given should probably be higher.

If you threw out the biggest deviation on either side as an outlier, BC would still be at 0.0, one of the better rankings in the league.  Other teams, like Duke, would see an average finish and average +/- finish drop considerably considering the Blue Devils won the Coastal Division last year after being predicted to finish dead last.

Since the Spaz era was a steady decline into the lower part of the league, we can assume that the Eagles can contend to the top of the division based on their previous performances.  Before the slide, they were a team that belied expectations and succeeded.  Last year, it was more of the same.  If we throw out that Spaziani was the head coach, it's not off of our expectations to think BC can contend, will contend, and be a force in the division as the years play out.

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