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Steve DeShazo on the ACC basketball coaches gathering
By STEVE DeSHAZO
Unless the topic is the NCAA tournament, where the ACC didn't get its usual love last season. Despite expanding to an unwieldy dozen teams for football purposes, the league got just four bids--its lowest total since 1999--and failed to send a team to the Final Four for only the third time since 1990.
Florida State became just the third ACC team ever to win nine conference games and get snubbed on Selection Sunday. The mid-major Missouri Valley Conference (gasp!) sent as many teams dancing as the legendary ACC.
Said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who has been snubbed for two straight years: "We have to be proactive. Other conferences do it. This is not the old days, when everybody bows down to the ACC."
The campaign began yesterday at the ACC's annual Operation Basketball preseason media day. Armed with a list of talking points that would make Karl Rove proud, the league's coaches began lobbying for justice--weeks before the first game is played.
"It's ridiculous," Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt said. "For us to get four in this league it's an incorrect conclusion."
Coincidentally, the league's coaches meeting directly preceded their chats with reporters. One can only imagine the sight of a dozen men who devote countless hours and gallons of sweat to beating each other on the court coming together in a show of solidarity.
But there was Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg, talking about how the ACC is 7-0 in its challenge series with the Big Ten, which got six bids, and how his team (along with fellow newcomer Miami) was viewed as a poor sister when it entered the league.
"This is a seven- or eight-bid conference," Greenberg said. "We sent a bad message by accident, and people bought it. It was a PR faux pas."