As the media, coaches and a select group of players descend upon the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C., today for the annual Atlantic Coast Conference football kickoff, the conference hopes the focus can be back to on-the-field matters after an offseason where expansion rumors, television dollars and NCAA sanctions were often the media’s focus.
With Clemson’s kickoff against Auburn 40 days away, here’s a look at five ACC buzzwords entering 2012:
The ACC might have the most impressive collection of second-year starting quarterbacks in the history of college football. Really. North Carolina’s Bryn Renner (10th), Florida State’s E.J. Manuel (18th), Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (34th), N.C. State’s Mike Glennon (47th) and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas (49th) finished in the top 50 of passer efficiency last season.
If the ACC is to change its perception as a football-challenged league, there is no better way than to build upon an impressive collection of young QB talent.
For the first time, Notre Dame might be compelled to explore conference membership as expansion, shrinking non-league schedules and increasing conference TV contracts are making life more difficult as an independent.
The ACC figures to be interested and well-positioned with its geography and identity to court Notre Dame.
To lure Notre Dame, to add more TV dollars, never has there been a more important time for the ACC to improve its football product.
And ACC presidents reportedly met with Notre Dame officials this month.
The conversation should be interesting around Miami coach Al Golden’s table at the Grandover Resort.
Golden’s staff reportedly broke recruiting rules in his first year at Miami, a program already under NCAA scrutiny from former coach Randy Shannon’s tenure.
Golden said the allegations his staff had recruiting help from a former employee linked to one-time booster Nevin Shapiro are untrue.
Pundits have prematurely declared the Seminoles’ return to relevance in recent years, but this could be the year FSU returns to single-digits in the polls.
On paper, the defensive line looks like the best in the country — analyst Phil Steele thinks the line is so deep the second-team line would be a top 10 line nationally — and linebacker-sized QB Manuel, who improved as the year went on, will be surrounded by improved and talented skill players. There are questions, namely along the offensive line, but the Seminoles could soon be enjoying the rewards from recent elite recruiting classes.
Miami is not the only program to embarrass the ACC with off-the-field transgressions. North Carolina also finds itself facing a postseason ban this year for NCAA violations. The Tar Heels are one of the most talented teams in the ACC, but will they embrace a spoiler role?