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Defining Expectations

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By BJ Bennett
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page Mid-Atlantic Columnist Aaron Pyre talks of who will exceed expectations, and who won’t, out of the mid-Atlantic teams in the ACC.

By Aaron Pyre
SouthernPigskin Mid-Atlantic Columnist Mid-Atlantic Columnist Aaron Pyre talks of who will exceed expectations, and who won’t, out of the mid-Atlantic teams in the ACC


Expectation as defined by wiki: 
In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise.

Expectations are an interesting thing.  Expect to contend for a championship and the team finishes 8-4, everyone is upset.  Expect to be a bottom feeder and finish 8-4 and everyone is thrilled.  For the University of Virginia, University of Maryland and Virginia Tech of the ACC, the expectations are different for the coming season.  Certainly the team and die hard fans of each believe an ACC Championship Game trip to Tampa is within their reach.  For those that cover football for a living and the average fan, the expectations are tempered a bit.  Even before one ball is snapped, predictions and rankings abound.  Here is what the media foresees:


Atlantic Division

1. Clemson
2. Wake Forest
3. Florida State
4. Maryland
5. Boston College
6. NC State

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech
2. North Carolina
3. Miami
4. Georgia Tech
5. Virginia
6. Duke

ACC Championship Game Winner: Clemson

In the Atlantic Clemson is the heavy favorite and in the Coastal, Virginia Tech received 87% of the vote to win the Division. 

A quick recent history lesson says that list above won’t hold and that annually expectations surprise and disappoint a team or two.

UVA – picked 4th in the Coastal, finished a close 2nd in the Atlantic
FSU – picked 1st in the Atlantic, finished 4th

Wake Forest – picked last in the Atlantic Division, won the ACCCG
Miami – picked 1st in the Coastal, finished 4th

FSU – 4 regular season losses, surprised a Hokie team and won the ACCCG

VT – preseason pick 6th, won the ACC
So what to think of the Mid-Atlantic three and their expectations?

On paper the Coastal is by far the weaker division, how else would one explain how VT returning only 11 starters is the favorite to win?  Most pundits don’t truly think this is a vintage Frank Beamer team with no experience at wideout, little experience at running back and extreme depth issues along most positions on the defense.  I don’t think anyone would be surprised if this team that is 35% true or redshirt freshmen falters and another Coastal team sneaks up and wins the division.  The expectations associated with this Hokie team are considerably less than the 2007 version.  A strong offensive line, a redshirt senior quarterback and a Bud Foster coached defense will buoy expectations of the Hokie faithful but the majority knows this team is green.  VT is expected to win their Division and play for the ACC Championship.  What if that doesn’t happen?  How angry will the fan base be?  Will it get chalked up to the extreme youth of the team and be overlooked or will it be considered a disappointment?  If the team does very well, it can go down with the 1995, 1999 and 2004 seasons as unexpected surprises.  If the team does not do well, the season could be more reminiscent of the 1997 and 2003 seasons that Hokie fans like to forget.  There might not be any middle ground.

The University of Virginia had a surprising and very good 2007 season.  Even after losing two NFL first round picks, the Hoos were very optimistic about the 2008 season.  Then academic and honor code issues hit the football team, ripping away the starting quarterback Jameel Sewell, the next stud defensive lineman Jeffrey Fitzgerald as well as a couple of other players.  The 2008 season quickly went from a continuation of the 2007 campaign to a rebuilding one instead.  There seem to be two consistencies with an Al Groh team: good offensive line play and good linebacker play.  Even with a rebuilt interior OL, I expect this to be a strength along with a deep wideout group and the 2nd best running back duo in the ACC of Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson.  Whoever plays quarterback will have pieces to work with, now can the defense do their part?  There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially at linebacker but all will be moot if the front three cannot hold their gaps.  If the team finishes 3rd or higher in the division, this season will look like a huge success and really cement Groh’s plan in Charlottesville.  If the team finishes at or below expectations will things start to grow a little warm for Al Groh and his staff?

Maryland is still looking to recapture the 2001-2003 run of 10 wins a season and being considered an up and comer in the ACC and nation.  While never awful and with the exception of 2006, the Terps have been a pretty average college football team.  Maryland football is in a rut or so the pundits believe, picking them 5th in the competitive and deep Atlantic Division.  Even returning a very good offensive line, the best wide receiver in the ACC in Darius Heyward-Bey and senior quarter back in Jordan Steffy, they are getting very little respect.  A running back steps up, a defense overachieves and the Terps like the Hoos could easily be looking at 3rd place or higher, staying a growingly anxious fan base.  If the team finishes in 5th place and outside of a bowl game, Ralph Friedgen may be in trouble, even if he is the best coach to walk the sidelines in College Park since Bobby Ross.

Each year there are surprises, a coaching adjustment here, a young man maturing there, an injury giving another a chance and countless other little things that ends up changing everything on a ball club.  Now realize this happens with every team in the nation.  These things are not detailed by those preview magazines that come out in June.  The future is not certain.  At least one team is going to play much better than anyone expected and another couple will play worse.  There is very good chance at least one of UVA, Maryland or Virginia Tech will wind up in one of these groups when the dust settles in December.

At the very least, fans should relax as best they can, and enjoy the next 4 months.  Whether your team does good, bad or in between, realize this is the holiday season known as College Football.  Much to the chagrin of my wife, it’s a four month plus celebration where I partake extensively; I recommend the same to everyone.


Share your thoughts on the Message Boards or email Aaron at [email protected]


Stories written by columnists are done independently.  Views do not always coincide with those of the remainder of the staff or the ownership of

BJ Bennett – B.J. Bennett is’s founder and publisher. He is the co-host of “Three & Out” with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the “Southern Pigskin Radio Network”. Email: [email protected] / Twitter: @BJBennettSports

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