CHARLOTTE — No, really, the ACC Football Kickoff is more than a bunch of Dabo/Jimbo mumbo jumbo.
For instance, the future financial stability of the entire conference hangs in the balance with creation of the ACC Network, reportedly due for a 2019 debut.
Amid all the focus on Clemson vs. Florida State as a College Football Playoff qualifier, sources confirm the Coastal Division still plans to send a representative to the ACC Championship Game.
But before The Tussle in Tallahassee on Oct. 29, the ACC has its best trio of marquee openers in years: Florida State-Ole Miss in Orlando, North Carolina-Georgia in Atlanta and Clemson at Auburn, plus a lot of congestion among the great unranked.
Previewing the preview Thursday and Friday at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte with an ACC Football Kickoff top 10 topics list:
1. Can Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney manage pressure including a preseason ranking that might be as high as No. 2, repeat College Football Playoff expectations, Heisman hype for Deshaun Watson and a loaded Florida State team cast as the angry chaser?
2. What will the ACC Network look like compared to the SEC Network? More basketball? Enough football? Will Coach K and Roy Williams still be around in 2019? Considering the declining fortunes of the cable industry in general and ESPN specifically, is a full-fledged ACC Network a lock?
3. Which program is most likely to challenge the Clemson/Florida State stranglehold on the ACC championship that started five seasons ago? Louisville? North Carolina? Bueller?
4. Who is in the next wave of stars Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables blends into his flexible attack schemes? Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, Kendall Joseph and Jadar Johnson? At least?
5. Which program made the best head coach hire: Miami (former Georgia head coach and Miami quarterback Mark Richt), Syracuse (former Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers), Virginia (former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall) or Virginia Tech (former Memphis head coach Justin Fuente)?
6. How long will Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and Seminoles co-offensive coordinator Randy Sanders stick with safe but limited senior Sean Maguire at quarterback? And who takes over, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois or true freshman Malik Henry, both of whom flashed some great potential in spring practice while Maguire was injured?
7. Is Paul Johnson on the hot seat less than 19 months after winning the Orange Bowl because of Georgia Tech’s strangely devastating 3-9 season (that included a fluky upset of Florida State)? Is a date with Boston College in Ireland as close to a “must win” as season openers go?
8. Can Richt, a noted quarterback tutor, mesh with junior Brad Kaaya in time to lead Miami through a relatively soft schedule (Florida State at home and no Clemson or Louisville) and into the ACC Championship Game?
9. Are Pittsburgh (due at Clemson on Nov. 12) and second-year head coach Pat Narduzzi quietly assembling a team good enough to contend in the Coastal Division for the next few years? Or is a schedule that includes non-conference games at Penn State and at Oklahoma State a little too ambitious — with or without cancer-surviving running back James Conner at full strength — for an ACC grind that starts with a Sept. 24 game in Chapel Hill?
10. Will Watson’s primary Heisman Trophy competition come from a player within the same division of his own conference, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook?
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff