The Rest of ACC Football: 2012 Preview

When it comes to predicting what ACC football teams will do, it’s best to keep it simple. There are best-case and worst-case scenarios, but I’ve done my best to put together a record for each team. And I threw in some fun facts about mascots, because, why not?

Boston College

BC’s first live eagle mascot was actually a hawk, and it escaped Chestnut Hills just two weeks after its arrival.

Season Prediction: 3-9 (1-7). The Eagles should be better offensively this year, but two of their three Coastal Division opponents are Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The Atlantic is already stacked. And the non-conference schedule isn’t easy: besides Maine, BC travels to both Northwestern and Army before a late-season home game against Notre Dame.

Random mascot fact: Boston College adopted the Eagle mascot in 1920. Live eagle mascots were donated to Boston College, but one escaped and the other literally broke its beak trying to escape. As the BC official website points out, the eagles must not have found Chestnut Hill to their liking.

Clemson

Clemson’s tiger mascot used to be joined by a “Country Gentleman” (bottom left).

Season Prediction: 10-2 (6-2). The schedule sets up nicely for Clemson, but that does not account for, you know, Clemsoning. (Yes, it’s a verb.) Still, the Tigers’ toughest games are at home (save an early matchup with Florida State in Tallahassee). If they get through FSU, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech with a 2-1 record, the Tigers should be in good shape. They have the talent offensively to have a fantastic season. If the defense can at least be average, the Tigers could still be the best team in the league.

Random mascot fact: Clemson used to have an additional mascot roam their sidelines in the football season. He was called the “Country Gentleman”, and he was active from 1939 until 1972. What else did Clemson stop around 1972? Playing “Dixie” and displaying the Confederate Navy Jack at games.

Florida State

Florida State’s new mascot Cimarron is a big hit with the kids. I guess. He loves snack food, anyway.

Season Prediction: 10-2 (6-2). This is the year for Florida State to finally live up to all the preseason hype. And 10-2 would sort of do that, if FSU’s losses were close ones to Clemson and Virginia Tech. There really aren’t many other excusable losses on their schedule, particularly considering the elite talent they have returning on both sides of the ball. But if the Seminoles get past their recent nemesis Wake Forest unscathed, they should be just fine. Right?

Random mascot fact: Yes, Chief Osceola might scare the children. But a goofy-looking horse named Cimarron?  Florida State added the kid-friendly mascot in May of this year. And…just…..no.

Georgia Tech

Season Prediction: 9-3 (6-2). Georgia Tech’s ACC schedule is almost ideal: besides a midseason trip to Clemson, the Yellow Jackets drew Boston College and Maryland out of the Atlantic Division. The Yellow Jackets open with Virginia Tech on Labor Day, and that game has decided the Coastal Division champion every year since the ACC started holding a championship game. It’s worth noting that both North Carolina and Duke will face Georgia Tech coming off of a bye week. The Jackets are 5-10 under head coach Paul Johnson against opponents with more than a week to prepare.

Random mascot fact: Georgia Tech students wore yellow jackets, hence the Yellow Jacket mascot. It first appeared as a costumed mascot 1972. But this is pretty cool:

Maryland

Season Prediction: 1-11, 0-8. Could have just used this picture. Considering the Terps were bad to begin with and are now racked with injuries, their only likely win will be William & Mary this Saturday. And that’s not a given.

Random mascot fact: In 1933, the Testudo bronze statue was unveiled outside of the football stadium (then Ritchie Coliseum). Unfortunately, it was not secured and so it was either stolen, defaced or painted quite a bit until 1951, when Maryland stored it in a shed. They ultimately filled it with 700 pounds of cement and secured it with rods and hooks. Johns Hopkins students still wanted to paint it, so when Maryland students caught them in the act, they shaved their heads.

Miami

Miami’s first mascot was a dog named Hurricane.

Season Prediction: 5-7 (4-4). This young Miami team may not be ready for the brutal non-conference schedule that features Kansas State, Notre Dame and USF. Their ACC schedule isn’t much better as the Hurricanes will face Atlantic Division foes NC State and Florida State. Miami will be a much better team soon, but probably not this year.

Random mascot fact: Sebastian the ibis was not Miami’s first mascot: It was a dog (a boxer named “Hurricane”), who once lived with Yale’s mascot, the Bulldog “Handsome Dan”. The idea for the dog mascot was likely inspired by then-Miami president Bowman F. Ashe’s roots in New Haven, Connecticut.

Virginia

Virginia had a dog as a mascot, but in true UVA fashion, they called it “The State Seal of Virginia”, or “Seal” for short.

Season Prediction: 6-6 (3-5). Richmond, TCU, Penn State and Louisiana Tech is a sneaky-difficult non-conference schedule. It’s hard to know what to expect from Virginia this year. The Cavaliers outperformed their talent level last year, and their schedule is tougher. They do get Maryland and Wake Forest out of the Atlantic Division at home, but have to travel to NC State. Virginia might upset an ACC team or two along the way, and this is a program that will keep improving, but it’s hard to imagine a huge leap this year.

Random mascot fact: Virginia’s first mascot was a dog named Beta. After his death, he was replaced by Seal (or The Great Seal of Virginia”), who is best known for – well, let’s let The Sabre tell it:

Seal’s claim to fame came in 1949 during halftime of the Pennsylvania football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Wearing a blue blanket embossed with a large orange ‘V,’ Seal walked from the 50-yard line to the Pennsylvania sideline where the Penn cheerleaders had placed their megaphones. The rest of the event was recounted as follows in the Cavalier Daily. ‘Slowly he walked from midfield to the Quaker side. Indifferently he inspected their cheerleading appurtenances. Eighty thousand people watched with bated breath. Coolly, insolently, Seal lifted a leg–the rest is history.’

Virginia Tech

(Image courtesy of The Michigan Zone blog.)

Season Prediction: 10-2 (6-2). Virginia Tech has a lot of question marks (particularly on offense), but the Hokies always seem to be there at the end of the year. The Hokies have Florida State and Clemson as their Atlantic Division foes, but they always seem to win the Coastal or come in second place. If the rest of the division lets the Hokies hang around, they’ll probably find a way to win it.

Random mascot fact: Virginia Tech was only known as the “Gobblers” for awhile. In 1913, a local resident was chosen by the students to serve as the mascot and he had a turkey pull him in a cart at a football game. That lasted just one game, unfortunately, because the school president thought it was cruel to the turkey. The man continued to walk the turkey up and down the sidelines after that, and by the early ’60′s, it was just a costumed “Gobbler”. Virginia Tech then arbitrarily changed “Gobbler” to “Hokie” in the late 1970′s. But it’s basically a turkey.

Wake Forest

Season Prediction: 6-6 (4-4). As usual, Wake Forest is going to be a tough out for any ACC opponent this year. Avoiding Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech as a Coastal Division foe is a small victory for the Deacons. But they will (oddly enough) close the season with two straight non-conference games at Notre Dame and at home against Vanderbilt. Those games will likely determine Wake’s bowl eligibility. But you never know with Jim Grobe and company: they keep beating Florida State, so anything can happen.

Random mascot fact:  The first appearance of a Demon Deacon in mascot form came when Jack Baldwin literally rode a ram into the football stadium before a matchup with North Carolina in 1941. His fraternity brothers dared him to dress up like what they thought a Demon Deacon was, and when he accepted, they outfitted him in a top hat, tails and an umbrella.

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