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ACC Looking for R-E-S-P-E-C-T on the Gridiron

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Last year, NCSU surprised Syracuse in overtime.
LAKE LANIER ISLANDS, GA — The Atlantic Coast Conference is still known as a basketball league, and the conference is thinking, "We're a heck of a football league, and we need to get more recognition for it."

Florida State means football to American sports fans. As for the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, not one team has seen a major bowl since 1990. The polls are only slightly more disposed to ACC football than the bowls. And yet, the league does boast good credentials.

It has had the most number one NFL draft picks two years running. It has a non-conference, one-loss record of 71 percent. It had two teams ranked in the top five in 1997, and yet consensus at the recently wrapped up ACC kickoff at Lake Lanier is that the league still gets no respect.

"We finished 11-1 this past year," recalled UNC's Dre Bly. "A couple years ago we were 10-2. I feel like we can compete with anyone in the country."

"I still don't think nationally that people are perceiving this league the way that they should," explained Clemson coach Tommy West.

Players say they can sense it on the field. Auburn, for instance, looking down its SEC nose at Virginia last September. Respect?

"I don't think so," said Virginia cornerback Anthony Poindexter. "I think after the game they respected us. Even though we had a young team. They knew that we came to play football."

"I don't think they realize the competition in the ACC," Chris Weinke of Florida State speculated. "They don't realize how good some of these teams are."

The league split its game against ranked teams a year ago. More respect will require more out of conference victories. The ACC's reputation wouldn't suffer if someone were to beat Florida State.

"You don't receive any respect," Bly said. "There aren't too many teams out there that can beat Florida State."


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