Dabo Swinney defends ACC football

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- The topic of what the ACC has to do to improve its football image has been rehashed over and over, particularly after its BCS bowl losses.

But that did not stop Clemson coach Dabo Swinney from weighing in on the topic during the ACC spring meetings. Swinney came to his league's defense after a reporter wondered how he dealt with the perception that the ACC was not a football conference. Then he gave his own twist on what the future looks like in this league, predicting that a national champion would eventually emerge.

Pretty bold statement. You guys know the BCS record. You guys know what happened to Clemson in the Orange Bowl last season. You guys know Florida State and Miami have been down, and Virginia Tech hasn't quite gotten over the top. So does Swinney, which must give him confidence that teams in this league are ready to turn a corner.

These are his comments, in their entirety:

"The ACC is a tremendous football conference. It’s a tremendous conference as a whole," Swinney said. "We’ve got to do a better job as far as developing a dominant team from within our conference. We’ve had some good teams, but we haven’t produced that 13-0 team yet, that 12-1 team that’s going to get on the national scene. You look at us this year, we got to fifth. We're on our way and we just didn’t quite finish like we need to finish. That’s coming.

"I think we’ve got a lot of good programs. In five years from now, we’ll look back and say this is where it changed. You look at the SEC and some of the traditionally really good teams that maybe haven’t been as good of late. They’ll get back. It’s the same thing in our conference. Heck, it’s been 20 years since we won the ACC. Twenty years. I was still playing 20 years ago. We’re heading in the right direction as a conference. This is a tremendous conference. At some point we’ll produce a national champion again, there’s no doubt in my mind about that."

The ACC could have as many as four teams ranked in the preseason top 25 come August. Expectations are high at Florida State once again, while Clemson and Virginia Tech are near-certainties to be ranked. NC State could very well make the list, too. There no doubt have been opportunities.

We'll see if a different script is written in 2012.