The air outside is finally cool enough for sweaters, sometimes even too cold to go without one.
The trees have at least started their change to fall colors, the sun starts to set much earlier than you’d think, and overcasted drizzles greet you most days.
You come home at the same time, but now you do so in darkness. Just two months before you enjoyed golden hours at home.
The sun no longer fills you with energy like it did before. Instead, the wind slaps you across the cheeks with a chill to slow you down. Every day you must squeeze in to long pants, and every day that squeeze gets tougher as the winter weather keeps you inactive.
You feel pretty down, fatigued, and lonely.
You have seasonal depression.
But at least you’re not alone, millions of people feel the same way every year when the weather starts to cool off. Maybe that’s why so many holidays and sports are in the fall/winter. People needed distraction from the misery of being stuck inside all day so they figured they’d compete for something instead of moping around the house.
“But John,” you ask, “what does any of this have to do with Clemson?”
I’m glad you asked.
The ACC has seasonal depression
This isn’t just a take, it’s a full-on diagnosis. Let’s take a look at the symptoms.
Well for starters, FSU has been complaining about their conditioning, and that was in September — it’s only gotten worse. Injuries are starting to pile up for most teams, and every team who said “we’ll be fine so long as there isn’t an injury at [position]” has had an injury at that position. Teams want to spend more time alone, looking forward to bye weeks with glee instead of looking at them with disgust as they did in August. Before you know it, some teams will be so tired that they’ll start resting starters for next year.
You see it everywhere, people are openly wondering if the ACC is becoming a group of five league. Or saying if Clemson loses a fluke game (as it often does) there won’t be a miraculous recovery — one L and they’re done. Even if Clemson goes undefeated, they’re often being compared to 2014 FSU. (And, as we all know, that comparison is a death sentence)
Lots of the teams seem like they’re just going through the motions. Syracuse doesn’t hate NC State any more than Pitt hates Georgia Tech. There’s one elite team in the conference that every other team loves to hate but outside of that, a lot of teams seem as though they’re shoulder shrugging their way through the year, taking the L to Clemson and moving on to next season.
That attitude trickles down to fans (lowering ticket sales), to recruits (lowering class ranks), and to boosters (lowering the ACC’s long term ability to compete). And it comes from that separation from Big East-era rivalries.
Further, teams like Clemson, Wake Forest, and Virginia are doing fine in the W-L column, but they’re irritable and can’t concentrate – making one dumb mistake after another and playing down to teams they shouldn’t.
The ACC’s scheduling in recent years has left a lot to be desired. Big games are few and far between, nearly all of them involving Clemson. Every once and a while someone will head down to Atlanta for the privilege of being stomped by Bama, but not nearly enough teams fight someone in their weight class.
Within the conference, many of these teams just don’t have a history of hating each other like teams in the Big 10 or SEC do. Half the conference are former Big East schools, but absent is the one they all love to hate most: West Virginia.
And to top it all off, I guarantee you that some of these teams are already inside waiting for everyone else to give up on football and shoot hoops instead.
So what should you do, ACC?
Well, first make a decision on Notre Dame, it’s getting unhealthy. And I’ve heard those fancy SAD lights do wonders, maybe get one of those.
Put yourself out there! Get outside and remind those other conferences who you are. You’re a power conference like all the rest, you even have the reigning national champions in football AND basketball. What’s not to love?
Oh and steal West Virginia from the Big 12, you have to do that.
Send me hot, cold, or like icky mushy/warm takes to @STSouthland, @JuanFabulous, in the comments below, or to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and try to keep them Clemson, or ACC, or CFB related.