Sure, everyone and their brother who watches college football believes the SEC and Big 12 are the two strongest conferences in college football.
Sure, the winner of the ACC will have a few losses this season.
But what does all that mean? To the casual college football fan, it means the ACC is not very good and can not be mentioned in the same breath as power conferences like the SEC and Big 12.
Taking a closer look at the facts, however, indicates that not only is the ACC a strong conference but it deserves to be mentioned up there with any other conference in college football this year.
Lets start with the rankings -- the simplest way to determine who's doing what on the field this season. A look at the current Coaches Poll will show you something interesting -- six of the top 30 teams are from the ACC. That's more than any other BCS conference. The SEC is next with five, followed by the Big 12 (4), Big 10 (4), Pac 10 (3), and Big East (3).
OK, maybe rankings aren't enough to make a legit argument. Lets move on. Lets look at things evenly. Using non conference records (source: ncaa.org) against other BCS conferences, the ACC is at the top -- again. Their 10-7 record against other BCS Conference opponents is better than the SEC (5-4), Big 12 (7-8), Big 10 (6-7), Big East (6-7), and Pac 10 (5-7).
Not enough proof yet? OK, lets go to the computers -- something college football puts a lot of emphasis on every year to determine its bowl selections. According to Jeff Sagarin's conference rankings, the ACC comes in at No. 2 -- again ahead of the mighty SEC and just about every other conference. The Big 12 is at the top, followed by the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big East, and Pac 10.
I understand that some people believe that while the ACC ranks at or near the top of all the areas I just mentioned, it just doesn't have the talent of other leagues. Because of that, I again went to the facts. This time, I went to see what the NFL people think about the players around this conference. According to Mel Kiper's weekly player rankings, the ACC is again near the top. According to Kiper's senior rankings for next April's NFL Draft, six of the nation's top 25 seniors are from the ACC -- including four of the top 10! Only the Big 12 (seven) has more in the top 25, followed by the Pac 10 (5), SEC (4), Big 10 (3), and Big East (zero).
Opinions are great. Everyone has one and everyone, despite what they might say, likes hearing those of others. That explains why millions of people watch the guys on ESPN talk about all the games and it's why thousands of people spend time daily on fan message boards around Scout.com.
Instead of sitting here and trying to tell you why I think the ACC is one of the nation's premier conferences, I brought some facts to the table and based on my research I presented, one can conclude that the ACC is clearly one of the nation's elite conferences.
Again, maybe it doesn't have a national title contender. Maybe it doesn't have a team ranked near the top like the SEC and Big 12 do. Then again, maybe that's because the ACC is so tough that it makes it extra difficult to go through it with the same amount of success as some of the top teams from other major conferences.
As the race to see who gets to play in the ACC Championship game in Tampa in a few weeks continues, just be mindful that whoever makes it there didn't have an easy road.