GREENSBORO, Ga. — ACC commissioner John Swofford cited plenty of impressive stats on Tuesday morning as he celebrated the state of football in his league.
Attendance is on the upswing. The NFL continues to draft ACC talent; Virginia defensive end Chris Long went No. 2 and Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan No. 3.
But one particular stat isn't so positive — once again, the ACC's top team, Virginia Tech, lost its Bowl Championship Series game. That dropped the ACC to 1-9 in BCS games with the win belonging to FSU when it beat Virginia Tech (then in the Big East) in the Sugar Bowl to win the 1999 national title. The SEC is 11-4.
"You want your champion, your best team, to do well in the postseason and we haven't had great success," Swofford said, "but the opportunity is there and the potential will be realized as we move forward."
He's that convinced that the level of play in the ACC is improving markedly and will continue to do so, especially when FSU and Miami, which won a BCS crown in 2001 while in the Big East, rebound from subpar seasons.
"Our conference is not bad," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Our conference is pretty darn good. The football has gotten better, there's no doubt in my mind. We have not fallen as far as people think. It's more of the conference coming up. … Look at Wake Forest. They whip us all now."
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer agrees.
"There's no question we need to do better in the BCS, including ourselves," he said, mentioning an Orange Bowl loss to Kansas in January. "But over a period of time, the ACC's going to be fine. The coaches are too good. The foundations are too good."
BCS update: Swofford, who is the BCS coordinator for two years, said talks will begin soon with Fox on, "in all likelihood," a new four-year deal. The current deal runs out after the 2009 season.
"When the television contract is set for the next cycle, we'll begin negotiations with our current bowl partners," he said.
For all the buzz that maybe the BCS would adopt the so-called Plus-One model, a four-team playoff, the discussion among BCS officials fizzled out quickly in April. That meant that the BCS would "remain fundamentally as it is in the next cycle," Swofford said.
Top athletes: North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, who led his team to the Final Four, was named the ACC's male athlete of the year. He received 28 of the 67 media votes, beating out among others, Virginia tennis star Somdev Devvarman (20 votes) and FSU catcher Buster Posey (12). Virginia Tech softball ace Angela Tincher won female athlete of the year.