The folks at ESPN Stats & Info put together a list of 100 numbers you must know, and the ACC -- for better or for worse -- had its moments, including No. 1.
Here's a sampling ...
1. (Preseason No. 1): Who will be this year's AP Preseason No. 1? Whoever it is must overcome recent history. Only two teams in the BCS era have won the national title after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, 1999 Florida State and 2004 USC.
5. (Donovan McNabb's number being retired): On Nov. 2, the best quarterback in Syracuse history will have his jersey retired in a ceremony in the Carrier Dome. He was named to the Big East first-team all four years on campus (95-98).
27. (Frank Beamer's tenure): This will be Frank Beamer's 27th season roaming the sidelines at Virginia Tech. He's the longest active tenured coach in FBS.
34. (Miami win streak): Bookended by a 2000 road loss to Washington and a 2003 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State, Miami reeled off 34 straight wins, including the 2002 Rose Bowl over Nebraska that won the 2001 national championship.
Check out the full list for more interesting notes.
- Russell Bodine, North Carolina
- Jay Finch, Georgia Tech
- Macky MacPherson, Syracuse
- Shane McDermott, Miami
- Bryan Stork, Florida State
Two of the five players include a pair of repeaters from the 2012 Watch List in Finch and MacPherson.
From the ACC's release:
Finch led a Georgia Tech offense which finished 4th nationally in rushing yardage in 2012 and has rushed for more yards in the past three years than any other school in the nation. MacPherson, is the hub of a Syracuse offensive line that set school records in 2012 for total offense, passing yards and touchdown passes. He is the grandson of Syracuse Hall of Fame head coach Dick MacPherson.
Stork keyed a 10th-ranked Florida State team which finished ranked 10th nationally in scoring offense and 19th nationally in total offense. McDermott blocked for a Miami team which averaged 31.4 points per game and 440 yards of total offense per game. Bodine helped lead a UNC offense which set school records in total points (487) and points per game (40.8), as the Tar Heels finished 8th nationally in scoring offense.
The ACC was one of three conferences with five nominees, including the Pac-12 Conference and the Mountain West Conference. Only the Southeastern Conference (9) had more selected to the 2013 Spring Watch List.
The winner of the Rimington Trophy will be selected by determining the consensus All-American center pick from four existing All-America Teams: American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Foundation (WCF), Sporting News (SN), and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
McMurphy reports the Lions would keep the Big Ten as an anchor in the bowl, but an ACC team would likely replace the MAC as the Big Ten's opponent in the game. Unfortunately for the ACC, the game would be in Detroit, which is in Big Ten country, but playing against the Big Ten would definitely enhance the ACC's bowl lineup, especially if it also included a game against the Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Courtesy of Pittsburgh athleticsJoe Rudolph, in his second year as the Panthers' offensive coordinator, has a young group of players in key roles for 2013.
Joe Rudolph: For the position in general I think there’s excitement. Tino [Sunseri] had held that down for the last couple of years, and somebody new being in that spot, I think everyone is excited to see. Tom, it’s a unique group with Tom being a fifth-year senior and having some experience and some success early in his career and then really some young guys and Chad [Voytik] being the one who is pushing … and Tra’Von [Chapman] coming in as a high school senior and starting his career early. And Trey [Anderson] is doing a good job. He’s wearing a coach’s hat. Todd’s been fun to watch this spring. I think you truly can see the urgency in his approach to it and I think he takes that very seriously. I think he’s going to be a player who truly wants to play fast and play with a full knowledge base. As he gains that, you can see him having more fun and playing faster and being more in the moment, so I’m excited to see how hits fall camp. Once you actually go through it, you gotta get it out of your mouth. You gotta get the signal from the sideline, you gotta get the guys up, you gotta shift, motion, see the defense. As that becomes more second-nature to him, I think you’ll continue to see him play faster and faster. He’s got really a great length of time in summer where he can study what we’ve done, study some things from the past, put it together. I think he’ll take a great approach to it. When you see a fifth-year senior taking that type of approach, it’s great for those guys. It’s a unique group in the room with the age difference, but pretty complimentary in a lot of ways.
Is it hard for him to take an assertive leadership role because he hasn’t played a snap for you guys?
JR: By the nature of the position you’re going to have to. You’re in charge of the huddle, you’re getting them up, you kind of have to be that, but as he gains that confidence in the details of his position, I think you’ll see that emerge and his comfort level will continue to emerge.
Did he read the defense well this spring?
JR: Yeah, and I think that’s it, it starts with where are my guys going to be? How will my read roll into it? You go up there, you get it out of your mouth easy from calling the play, you know where your guys are going to be, and then it’s supposed to be easy enough to say let me look at this picture and go through my read. I think there’s some progression to all of it. I think that’s really what we saw the last week of spring from him, where he was starting to really put it together. It’s a good place to be, now hopefully we keep taking advantage of the summer, and I think he will. I think he’ll work his tail off.
From the outside looking in, the perception is there is a question at quarterback, nobody on the offensive line who has really played the same position, Rushel Shell transferring, a lot of questions. Where is your comfort level at right now with all of those things?
JR: A huge comfort level is in the coaching staff. Those guys do an outstanding job. Their relationships with their players in the room is outstanding, and so I have great comfort in that. I also have great comfort in the approach of the guys to work and learn. You’re right, we have two tackles who are moving to guard, but their approach to that, how does the experience last year help them be good players this year? It doesn’t the first day of spring, but I think as they get comfortable with their assignments and their job at guard, the experience of them being a tackle will really come into play for them, and their experience of being out of the field will add to that communication. It’s going to be a young group. You say that and you’ve got a wide receiver in Devin Street we’re obviously excited about who has a lot of ability and will be a senior. Quarterback might be exactly the same, a fifth-year senior, but other than that, looking around, there are a lot of young faces. There could be two freshmen starting in the O-line. J.P. Holtz at tight end, he’s still in a freshman year even though he started 10 games, so, you’ll have some young players out there. I think the approach of our guys and how they take advantage of the summer will be big for them. Rushel is a loss, and you wish him the best. You hope everyone finds the best thing for them to be successful, but I’m excited about the guys in the room. I think they sense the opportunity and they have taken advantage of things this spring to bring that out. There will be a nice influx and we’ll see who can help from the guys who walk in the door here in a few months.
Check back tomorrow for Part II of this interview.
- The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Virginia Tech-Maryland game scheduled for 2014 in M&T Bank Stadium is off because the Terps are heading to the Big Ten.
- Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden is preparing for a return trip to Tally.
- The quarterback situation at NC State just got more interesting with the addition of Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell.
- Paul Johnson disputes the criticism that playing against his offense in practice hurts his defense.
- A rivalry between Clemson and Pittsburgh is unlikely.
- Memo to North Carolina -- these are the rings you want.
- Virginia Tech's video board is coming down to be replaced.
- Clemson got a commitment from a running back, according to a few reports.
From Corey Dowlar : After landing a wide receiver commit over the weekend, FSU still has other big-name targets on the WR board.
From David M. Hale: The Pressure Player series looks at Lamarcus Joyner, as the Noles' success on defense in 2013 could hinge on Joyner's move to cornerback.
Join us at 1 p.m. ET as we go conference-by-conference taking your questions until 3 p.m. See you there.
You bet we’re counting.
If you’re Scot Loeffler, Virginia Tech's new offensive coordinator, 100 days must feel like a nanosecond. The Hokies aren’t the only ones, though, with plenty of work to do before the season begins. Here’s a checklist of five things the ACC and its teams must accomplish before the opening kickoff:
1. Name starting quarterbacks. Syracuse can’t even talk about Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen yet because he’s not on campus and won’t enroll until next month, but the Orange are just one of several teams in the ACC that still have an ongoing quarterback competition. Virginia’s quarterback controversy has seemingly gone on for years, and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has yet to officially anoint Jameis Winston as EJ Manuel’s successor. Pitt is also still searching for a dependable leader, along with NC State.
2. Find an offense in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has become one of the ACC’s brand-name programs, a consistent winner and a representative in the Top 25 and BCS standings. That changed last season when the Hokies bumbled their way through their most disappointing season in 20 years. Coach Frank Beamer made sweeping changes to his offensive staff, but little improvement was seen in the spring game. Loeffler said it wasn’t a true indication of the progress that was made in the other 13 practices, but also conceded there is still a lot of work to be done. With Alabama looming in the season opener, all eyes will be on the ACC in Week 1. When the Hokies are good, the ACC is better.
3. Improve defensively. With the exception of Florida State, which finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country in scoring defense, 2012 wasn’t a banner year for ACC defenses. The conference usually has some of the nation’s best defenses -- including Boston College -- but there was no Luke Kuechly and no identity for the Eagles last fall. Miami beat Duke 52-45. Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50. Clemson beat NC State 62-48. Clemson took a major step forward defensively with its bowl win against LSU, but the defense must become elite in its second season under coordinator Brent Venables if Clemson is going to be a national-title contender.
4. Minimize the turnovers. Virginia Tech was No. 86 in turnover margin last year, and quarterback Logan Thomas threw three picks in the spring game. Boston College was No. 88 in the country in turnover margin, FSU No. 93, NC State No. 99, Maryland No. 104, Virginia No. 110. That’s almost half the league ranked among the worst in the country in turnover margin. The Hokies play Alabama. Virginia plays Oregon. BC plays at USC. FSU is at Florida, and the Seminoles turned it over five times versus the Gators in FSU's 37-26 loss last year. The Gators scored 10 points off turnovers in that game. If the ACC is going to stand a chance, it can’t give away freebies.
5. Stay out of the trainer’s room. Virginia Tech standout corner Antone Exum is still rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in a pickup basketball game. The bulk of Wake Forest’s offensive line was walking wounded all spring, and that group will make or break the Deacons' season. Clemson backup quarterback Chad Kelly and starting tight end Sam Cooper both tore their ACLs this spring. If the ACC is going to beat the best this fall, it needs its best players on the field. For some programs, like Boston College, the depth isn’t there to afford injuries.
The good news in the ACC is that six teams -- Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia and Virginia Tech already have rivalries in place should the ACC decide to reserve the final week of the regular season for rivalry games. North Carolina and NC State would also make sense, but there are still six teams in need of somebody to hate.
Let the rivalries emerge and develop on their own as the conference race plays out over the next few years with Syracuse and Pitt in the mix, and preserve the rivalries that are already in place. Syracuse fans probably couldn’t even tell you who their biggest rival is. Some would argue West Virginia. Others will tell you Penn State. Boston College? Meh.
Syracuse will close its first ACC season at home against former Big East teams Pittsburgh and Boston College, respectively. Those are the two most logical options for the Orange’s top rivals, and Pittsburgh has the second-longest series in Syracuse history with 67 games against the Orange. Boston College makes sense because it’s in the Northeast, fans of both schools can travel to the games, and the two programs played almost every season from 1961-2004. There’s just nothing about BC-Cuse football right now, though, that makes this series any more than two programs trying to step over each other in the Atlantic Division.
Syracuse fans should be thrilled Penn State is on the schedule this year as the opener at MetLife Stadium in The Meadowlands, but can it be a rivalry renewed? Might Syracuse have to look outside the ACC for its next true rival, or will a reunion with former Big East foes rekindle the hate?
Syracuse needs help. Cast your votes now.
Joyner writes that, "while their national championship chances aren't as strong as the rest of the teams we'll be profiling in the next two weeks, a zero- or one-loss season would absolutely put them in the title discussion."
Don't look now, but based on the ink they've already gotten this preseason, the Tigers are already in the conversation.
There’s only one problem: Pitt-West Virginia doesn’t exist anymore.
For half the ACC, this is a no-brainer. It’s already become an expected date on the schedule for many schools, like Virginia Tech-Virginia, Wake Forest-Vanderbilt, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida and Georgia Tech-Georgia. NC State-North Carolina is another logical option. With the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to league this July, though, the idea of a rivalry week becomes a little more complicated.
Virginia Tech fans will gladly tell you the Hokies have owned UVa for nine straight seasons and 13 of the past 14. It is a rivalry in proximity and between the fan bases, but it has lost much of its luster on the field because of the lopsided results in the series. That doesn’t diminish the importance of the game. Last year, bowl eligibility was on the line for Virginia Tech. In 2011, the Hokies clinched the Coastal Division title against a surging Virginia team that had won four straight and finally appeared ready to make a serious run at the Commonwealth Cup. It was a similar situation to 2007, and again the Hokies came out on top.
In order for a rivalry to truly exist, there must be geographical and recruiting relevance, familiarity, meaningful games and history between the programs. Pitt and Virginia Tech have all of the above as former members of the Big East. In 2000, Virginia Tech beat Pitt on a last-second field goal. In 2002, Larry Fitzgerald had his breakout season, and Pitt rallied from a 21-7 deficit to beat Virginia Tech 28-21. In 2003, Pitt scored a touchdown with 47 seconds remaining to beat No. 5-ranked Virginia Tech in what would become one of the best games played at Heinz Field, college or pro. And last year? Ugh. If Virginia Tech isn't ready to pounce on Oct. 12 in Blacksburg and redeem itself, somebody should make sure the Lunch Pail hasn't been painted pink.
Virginia Tech-Pitt is a rivalry that can continue to grow, even if it’s not played on the final week of the regular season.
Two other top rivalry options for Pitt would be Boston College and Miami -- because of their obvious history in the Big East -- but with BC in the Atlantic Division, those games could have less relevance to the division standings and their meetings would be less frequent. BC and Pitt haven’t played since 2004, but their history dates back to 1959. If you’re looking for the regular-season finale, though, Miami seems like the most logical option. The two have history in the Big East, the Canes aren’t tied up with an SEC game and the game will have meaning to the Coastal Division standings. This year’s scheduling might be the first step toward building that rivalry, as Miami ends the season at Pitt on Friday after Thanksgiving in a nationally televised game. Pitt hasn’t had much success against the Canes in recent years, though, as Miami leads the series 22-9-1 and Pitt hasn’t won since 1997. How the series with Georgia Tech evolves will also be intriguing, but the two city schools have little recent history.
The good news for Pitt is that there are plenty of options in the ACC for a rivalry to be either renewed or created -- regardless of whether or not it's played on the final week of the regular season. Which one gets your vote?
They prefer the committee to resemble the model used in basketball to select the NCAA tournament field, and also prefer that people currently affiliated with the sport serve on the committee.
Could that work in football? There really is no better person to ask than Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski, who has served as chairman of the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee the past two years.
"Without fleshing out a little more fully the criteria we want to use as a sport to select those teams for the playoff -- I think you need to do a little bit more of that before you figure out what the right makeup of those people are," Bobinski told ESPN.com. "But having served on the basketball committee, I like the model. I think it’s really evolved over time so if the football model borrowed from that, it would be borrowing from an evolved model and not something that we’re still figuring out.
"I think there can be a lot of transferability. It’s a different challenge for sure. There’s a different focus and a different sort of level of intensity over what the football group will be doing, but I do think there’s a lot of commonality and approach in the process. A lot of it will make some sense, so I think there is a good starting point to transition into the football model."
What does he think about the idea of having only people currently in the game serve on the committee?
"Having that current expertise and knowledge is really important. I also think having folks that have been in and around the sport and spent a lifetime in it can add value, maybe in an advisory capacity, maybe structure it in a way that if they’re not full voting members they provide perspective and background that might be helpful to the committee’s work," Bobinski said. "I know from the basketball committee’s perspective, many of us in the room did that on our own. We would reach out to people who had been long-time coaches or folks who had been in and around the sport and got their opinions, got their thoughts and that just added to our own deliberations and our own perspective and knowledge. I wouldn’t want to discount folks that have spent a lifetime in and around the game. It would be foolish to do that."
The question is whether or not he will continue to be.
And so continues the recruiting ritual, where a commitment means about as much as a second date. The SEC will continue to recruit Watson, who lives in Georgia, and Mitch Sherman of ESPN RecruitingNation went to Gainesville, Ga., to document just how firm this pledge of loyalty is right now.
So far, so good.
"I'm committed to the whole university," Watson told Sherman. "It's where I want to be."
It's also a long way until signing day.
- Sammy Watkins is flying under the radar after a quiet season, but his stats tell a different story.
- Pitt is entering the ACC without a natural football rival.
- The ACC is considering a permanent rivalry week on the last weekend of the regular season, beginning in 2014, according to Jeremy Fowler.
- The legend of FSU quarterback Jameis Winston continues to grow.
- Former Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale has been hurting in the NFL.
- Does ACC football really stink? LSU might disagree.
- FSU coach Jimbo Fisher talked about some of the biggest storylines for his program this season.
- Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich gives his take on the program.