There’s plenty of work to be done this offseason in the ACC. Here are a few priorities:
1. Introductions. Al Golden, meet Jedd Fisch. With two new head coaches and four new offensive coordinators, some introductions will be in order. Maryland coach Randy Edsall and Miami’s Golden have already hit the road recruiting, but they’ve got to get to know every high school coach in their respective areas, every academic counselor in the football building, boosters, trustees, players’ parents – anyone and everyone who can help make the program a success. The new coordinators have to meet with their quarterbacks and groups to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Homework. Not just for the players, but for the coordinators as well. The assistants have to know and learn their personnel, and the players have to learn the new terminology and philosophies. For those coordinators unfamiliar with the ACC competition, a crash course could be in order. A lot of studying will be in order at Clemson, for example, where a first-year starting quarterback will have to learn the up-tempo offense of first-year coordinator Chad Morris.
3. Name that quarterback. Miami has to choose between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. At Virginia, the competition is wide open. NC State’s situation is dependent upon the decision of starter Russell Wilson, who is spending the spring training with the Colorado Rockies. Tevin Washington enters the spring as the starter at Georgia Tech, but nothing is a given. There will be a lot of new faces at the position throughout the conference, so it will be a key offseason for development.
4. Watch Oklahoma film. Lots of it. No, you don’t want the players overlooking Charleston Southern and skipping ahead to the Sept. 17 date with the Sooners, but the staff can. Jimbo Fisher & Co. will get a second chance at Oklahoma after losing 47-17 on the road last year. The Sooners are a definite national title contender, and Florida State could jump into the conversation with an upset in Week 2. The Noles are the ACC’s best hope for a big splash on the national stage in 2011, but it starts with Oklahoma, and the preparation starts now.
5. Get some closure in Chapel Hill. This month, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp wrote a letter to the faculty stating that he didn’t know “when or how the NCAA will ultimately rule,” but you would think the lengthy NCAA investigation has to end at some point between now and the opening kickoff. Not only does this program need to close the door on that investigation, it needs to do everything in its power this offseason to make sure it doesn’t happen again.