The Tradition of Excellence
Consistency. It is the mark of true excellence in any endeavor.
However, in today’s intercollegiate athletics, competition has become so balanced and so competitive that it is virtually impossible to maintain a high level of consistency.
Yet the Atlantic Coast Conference has defied the odds. Now in its 65th year of competition, the ACC has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. And that is not mere conjecture, the numbers support it.
Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 150 national championships, including 75 in men’s competition, 74 in women’s and one in men’s and women’s fencing. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 169 times in men’s competition and 134 times in women’s action.
The ACC is the only conference to have won two football national championships over the past four years. Florida State captured the final BCS National Championship in 2013, while Clemson claimed the College Football Playoff national championship last year.
With its dramatic 35-31 win over top-ranked Alabama on January 9 in Tampa, Florida, Clemson claimed its second football National Championship and first since 1981.
With Clemson reaching the College Football Playoff Championship Game for a second straight year, the ACC has now had a team in the championship game in three of the last four years, a feat matched only by the SEC.
The ACC is the only conference to claim two national titles in the last four years.
Clemson’s championship game victory also marked the seventh national title by an ACC school since the league’s inception in 1953, and the 14th by a current league school.
Miami leads the way with five national titles, followed by Florida State (3), Clemson (2), Pittsburgh (2), Georgia Tech (1) and Syracuse (1).
A year ago, the ACC posted an impressive 9-3 record in bowl competition, the most postseason wins in league history and the best record by any conference in 2016.
The nine wins also tied the existing NCAA record set in 2005 by the SEC. Prior to last year, the ACC record for bowl wins in a season was five. In addition, over the past four years the ACC is second among all conferences with 42 bowl appearances.
ACC teams posted an NCAA-best 51-17 record (.750) against nonconference opponents in 2016, including a 17-9 mark (.654) against teams from the Power Five conferences. The 51 wins were the most in league history and surpassed the previous high of 46 attained in 2013 and 2014.
A league-record 11 ACC teams finished 2016 with winning records, including eight teams with eight or more wins - both the most of any FBS league.
2016 marked the first time in league history that the ACC had four teams - Clemson (1), Florida State (8), Virginia Tech (16), Miami (20) - ranked in the Top 20 of the final AP poll. With No. 21 Louisville, the ACC also had five teams in the final AP poll for only the second time in league history (2015).
The ACC leads all conferences with seven coaches ranked in the Top 25 career winning percentage among active coaches with a minimum of five seasons.
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher is second (.821), followed by Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (sixth, .761), Miami’s Mark Richt (seventh, .737), Louisville’s Bobby Petrino (10th, .717), Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson (17th, .670) and Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall (19th, .656).
Florida State’s Fisher leads all active head coaches nationally, averaging 11.14 wins per season after seven years in Tallahassee. Clemson’s Swinney is fifth (9.89), Miami’s Mark Richt is seventh (9.63), Louisville’s Petrino is eighth (9.08) and Georgia Tech’s Johnson is ninth (8.85).
Following Florida State’s 33-32 win over Michigan last December, ACC teams have now won the last five Orange Bowl games, the longest Orange Bowl win streak by a conference in 72 years.
The ACC continues to make its mark in the annual NFL Draft as the league had 43 players selected in this year’s draft - the second-highest total by any conference, and the third-highest total in league history. The ACC has had at least 42 players selected in three of the past four drafts, 2015 (47) and 2014 (42).
Last September 10, Virginia Tech and Tennessee set an all-time single-game NCAA college football attendance record when the two teams met at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The game drew 158,990 fans eclipsing the previous mark of 115,109, set in the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 2013.
In 2017, no ACC team will face fewer than seven opponents that went to bowls in 2016, while eight teams will face eight or more opponents that played in the postseason with Syracuse (11), Duke (10), Clemson (9), Georgia Tech (9), NC State (9) and Virginia (9) leading the way.
In all, ACC teams will play 26 games against nonconference opponents that went to bowl games in 2016.
With Louisville quarterback and ACC Player of the Year Lamar Jackson back to lead the Cardinals in 2017, the ACC will have had the reigning Heisman Trophy winner returning to the field for the second time in the last four years as Florida State’s Jameis Winston did so in 2014 after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013.
The conference will conduct championship competition in 27 sports during the 2017-18 academic year - 14 for women and 13 for men. The first ACC championship was held in swimming on February 25, 1954.
The 13 sports for men include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, fencing, swimming & diving, indoor and outdoor track & field, wrestling, baseball, tennis, golf and lacrosse.
Women’s sports were initiated in 1977 with the first championship meet held in tennis at Wake Forest University.
Championships for women are currently conducted in cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, fencing, swimming & diving, indoor and outdoor track & field, tennis, golf, lacrosse, softball and rowing, with volleyball deciding its champion by regular-season play.
Year in Review
The 2016-17 academic year saw four ACC teams capture NCAA national team titles. In all, the ACC has won 81 national team titles over the last 20 years and has won two or more NCAA titles in 34 of the past 36 years.
Academically, the member institutions of the Atlantic Coast Conference again led the way among Power Five conferences in the “Best Colleges” rankings released by US News & World Report.
2016-17 National Championships
Football - Clemson
Men’s Basketball - North Carolina
Fencing - Notre Dame
Men’s Tennis - Virginia
The Atlantic Coast Conference was founded on May 8, 1953, at the Sedgefield Inn near Greensboro, N.C., with seven charter members - Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest - drawing up the conference by-laws.
The withdrawal of seven schools from the Southern Conference came early on the morning of May 8, 1953, during the Southern Conference’s annual spring meeting. On June 14, 1953, the seven members met in Raleigh, N.C., where a set of bylaws was adopted and the name became officially the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Suggestions from fans for the name of the new conference appeared in the region’s newspapers prior to the meeting in Raleigh. Some of the names suggested were: Dixie, Mid South, Mid Atlantic, East Coast, Seaboard, Colonial, Tobacco, Blue-Gray, Piedmont, Southern Seven and the Shoreline.
Duke’s Eddie Cameron recommended that the name of the conference be the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the motion was passed unanimously. The meeting concluded with each member institution assessed $200.00 to pay for conference expenses.