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Friday, June 14, 2013
ACC a Southeast recruiting power too

By Tom Luginbill

Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in the country, and every conference has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to landing top prospects. This week, we are examining the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame to find each one's strength, the biggest obstacle each faces and the overall view of the conference. The ACC is up today.

Biggest obstacle: Getting out from under the SEC's shadow. This conference shares the same player pool and it needs every matchup versus the SEC to count. Clemson beating LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2012 was big, but over the course of the past few years Clemson, Virginia Tech and FSU haven't always fared as well, and South Carolina has been a thorn in the side of Clemson. This conference needs a resurgence from Miami and North Carolina as well as NC State. The middle- and bottom-tier teams in these two conferences are very comparable. The ACC needs its powers to consistently dominate on and off the field, and for recruiting classes from the likes of FSU, Clemson and Miami to produce double-digit wins.

Fisher/Swinney
FSU's Jimbo Fisher, left, and Clemson's Dabo Swinney have gone toe-to-toe with SEC teams on the recruiting trail and walked away winners.
Biggest strength: Primarily the player pool. Conference expansion, resources, facilities and fan bases are also a strength. Oh, and a little program called Notre Dame adds something too. Right now the ACC's strength revolves around three programs -- FSU, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Clemson and FSU have routinely beat SEC powers in recruiting, but have not shown the same consistency on the gridiron. Notre Dame brings a national presence and exposes the ACC to other markets in the Midwest, which could enhance the recruiting landscape for those who choose to branch out. The reality is the ACC has programs in major talent hotbeds, including the eastern seaboard.

Overall view of the conference: Probably as good as it has been in recent years. FSU won 12 games, including a BCS bowl, Clemson won 11 and beat LSU in its bowl. Miami surprised despite serious off-the-field complications, and there is excitement in Chapel Hill as Larry Fedora's North Carolina Tar Heels will be coming off probation. The facility resources are in place at NC State for new coach Dave Doren. Clemson and FSU are hot items right now among prospects in the Southeast, including the state of Georgia. What hurts this conference perhaps the most is when a quality team loses to someone it shouldn't on a national stage or can't beat the out-of-conference team it needs to in order to get over a hump.