<
>

Can we fast-forward to September?

7/27/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- I'm up. I'm awake. I'm ready to talk to the coaches. But they're golfing, eating and getting their pictures taken until 3 p.m. And that's the reason we're all here. This event -- the ACC Football Kickoff -- is like watching a trailer for a blockbuster hit that doesn't come out for another month. There's an exciting story here waiting to unfold, and it's going page by painfully slow page.

On Sunday, we interviewed the players from 2:30-6:30 p.m. and everyone I talked to thinks his team has a legitimate shot at winning the ACC title or at least playing in a bowl game. If there's no hype around a team (Wake Forest) its players relish flying under the radar. The players were all humble, well-spoken and genuine in their thoughts about the upcoming season. That session is easily my favorite part about this trip, and because it's my second full season as the conference blogger, I now have a rapport with most of them. (Riley Skinner forgave me for his admittedly-too-low ranking in the top 30 and obliged me by answering a question, while Christian Ponder wondered, "Who let you in here?")

There's a buzz around the ACC right now that has been missing. The players are getting asked questions about how competitive the conference is, and how the talent at quarterback seems to be improving. But there's more hoopla and hospitality than there is football talk around here.

It kicked off Sunday with a luncheon and commissioner John Swofford's forum. The players had a luncheon, too. They also had a video game tournament. (At last check last night, Miami and Georgia Tech were going at it, with the winner playing Virginia Tech. Superstitious, anyone?) There was a fancy reception on a perfectly manicured lawn outside with an open bar, followed by a dinner that didn't end until around 9:30 p.m. There is a non-golfer's clinic being held this morning on the driving range, which is where I belong, but even that would be a disaster. So I'll stick to the blogosphere and ACC football updates knowing that eventually today we'll all be on the same page.

If only we could have flipped the calendar to September yesterday.