John Swofford has plenty of reasons to be happy. Since 2015 began, there have been nine champions in college football and college basketball. Five of them have come from the ACC.
But the ACC's commissioner was not smiling at the results of week three. The ACC had a disastrous weekend, losing to FCS schools and scuffling FBS programs alike. There were bizarre coaching choices and an official's decision so bad it warranted a mea culpa from the league office.
And as atrocious as it was, things could have been worse.
On a normal week, having a league member that has gone to bowls in five of the last six seasons lose at home to a program that had not won a road game against a Power 5 opponent in 11 years would be the ultimate embarrassment. But when Boston College fell by 24 points to Kansas on Friday night, it was just part of the ugliness.
The problems actually began in the week's first game in which Wake Forest beat North Carolina in what was officially a non-conference matchup. UNC was down six points when Michael Carter ran for a first down into Deacon territory. Whether he was considered down as a result of stopped forward progress or for going out of bounds, the clock should have been killed with one second left. The biggest issue with this gaffe was that the replay booth never reviewed it, though UNC head coach Mack Brown said that one of the on-field officials was indicating that there should have been a second remaining. The league office agreed, saying that one second should have been added to the clock, though that did not make the people in Chapel Hill feel any better.
But Saturday was a new day and the Boston College loss and the officiating mess were a thing of the past. But the noon window provided no relief. NC State was outscored 23-6 in the second half en route to a 17-point loss to West Virginia. At least that defeat was to a major conference foe on the road, albeit one that struggled with FCS opponent James Madison in week one and got their doors blown off by Missouri in week two.
Georgia Tech fell in even sadder fashion, losing to The Citadel, a team that was 0-2 against FCS competition coming in. Making the defeat even harder to swallow was the fact that an apparent game-winning touchdown was wiped off the board when Yellow Jackets' head coach Geoff Collins called time out moments before the ball was snapped. The Bulldogs would go on to win in overtime.
While Collins' time out was unfortunate, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi's decision to go for a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the one down seven points to Penn State with less than five minutes remaining has to be considered questionable at best. Then Alex Kessman missed the 19-yard field goal and the Panthers were unable to score again in a 17-10 loss to the Nittany Lions.
Swofford did breathe a sigh of relief in a couple of other league games. Virginia Tech rallied to beat FCS foe Furman and Virginia fought back to defeat Florida Stateat Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers' win was especially important, as Virginia remained unbeaten and is now 2-0 in the ACC. A loss to a stumbling Seminoles squad would have given every school in the league other than Clemson and Wake Forest at least one loss and made sure that 24 of the AP Top 25 were schools outside the ACC. But the Cavaliers survived and actually moved up four spots to No. 21 this week.
Most importantly for the conference, the boys in orange rolled again. Use whatever adjective you want to describe the ACC's performance this weekend. Nasty. Hideous. Putrid. They all apply. But the Tigers keep on doing their thing and no matter how everyone else fares, at least the ACC has Clemson to lean on.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
(Top photo by Clyde Click, courtesy of citadelsports.com)