- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s been a busy offseason in the ACC, with the hires of several new coordinators, a new coach at North Carolina, and ongoing off-field news at both North Carolina and Miami. With the opening kickoff just weeks away, here’s an overview of the state of the conference for those of you in need of a quick primer:
Best offseason news: College football is going to a four-team playoff starting in the 2014-2015 season, and the ACC won’t lose its seat at the table, as many had predicted. Instead, the ACC has put itself in strong position for the future with the announcement that Pitt and Syracuse will join the league in July 2013 (without any messy legal trouble), and the ACC will have a 12-year partnership with the Orange Bowl that will feature the ACC champ at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day, beginning after the 2014 season.
Worst offseason news: Another Yahoo! Sports story has further implicated Miami in possible NCAA violations, but this time, the integrity of coach Al Golden has been brought into question. The story alleged that recruiting violations took place under Golden’s watch in his first season. Golden has maintained his record of compliance, but declined much further comment, as the NCAA investigation is ongoing.
Worst offseason injury: Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown tore his right ACL at practice on Tuesday and is out for the rest of the season, leaving the Terps’ offense in the hands of true freshman Perry Hills. Barring something catastrophic, this is the worst news that possibly could have hit the Terps this summer. No other quarterback on Maryland’s roster has taken a collegiate snap.
Looking forward to: A legitimate national contender. Florida State is receiving the hype once again, but before you roll your eyes, use them to actually look at the guys who will be playing, not just their names on paper. They’re all freaks of nature, studs, the real deal. The defensive line might be the best in the country. There are no excuses for Florida State not to win its first ACC title since 2005 and play for something bigger.
Would rather not see: Another losing bowl record. Five straight losing postseasons for the ACC. The conference won two bowl games last season. Two. And it struck out twice in two BCS bowls -- the first time the league ever had two bids. Please, I beg you, no more ...
Teams on the rise: Virginia is coming off an impressive second season under coach Mike London, who was named the ACC’s 2011 Coach of the Year. NC State also has momentum from a strong finish last season, and could be a surprise team in the conference race.
Coaches on the hot seat: Boston College coach Frank Spaziani has the hottest seat in the ACC after a steady decline of wins during his tenure, but Maryland coach Randy Edsall is also feeling the heat after a 2-10 finish in his first season. Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh is also facing much higher expectations in Year 3.