Syracuse beat ACC champion and College Football Playoff participant Clemson last year and still finished 4-8. That might have something to do with Syracuse coach Dino Babers’ assessment of the ACC.
“This conference is no joke,” Babers said Thursday at the ACC Kickoff. “People talk about other conferences. I’ve been in the Big Ten. I’ve been in the Pac-12. I’ve been in the Pac-12 when it was the Pac-10. You know, coaches come up here and they read their lines and they try to reinforce their conference, and everybody does that, OK. This is no baloney cheese for me. This conference is a real football conference.”
Often in the shadow of the SEC, ACC coaches will defend their league at the drop of a hat. At his remarks to open the media event, commissioner John Swofford made sure to note that the ACC’s 21 bowl appearances in the past two years were the most in the country and that the conference’s champion has been in the College Football Playoff all four years of its existence. (Also, the ACC is the only conference in the country to win national championships in football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball in the past four years, Swofford pointed out.)
Babers did his part Thursday. Among other things, he said that the diversity of coaching tactics is unlike anything he has seen.
“Where we get our athletes from varies, but I think the type of athletes that we put on the football field are outstanding,” he said. “And when you look at our records versus other conferences in bowl games, we always talk about a fact is a fact. We'll look at the numbers. I mean, this conference is as good a football conference as the top conferences in the country, and then when you throw the basketball side in there, it might be the conference in the country.”
The fact about the bowl games, at least for the 2017 season, might be one Babers might keep to himself. The ACC was 4-6 in bowl games last season, although the conference was 9-3 in the 2016-17 bowl games, best of any conference.