|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The ACC isn't ready for prime time. If there were more than 20,000 people at the ACC Championship Game, I'd be surprised. Once again, there were thousands of empty seats, and it came on a day where the SEC Championship Game couldn't have provided any more drama or entertainment. If the ACC wants to reach that level, two things need to happen: First, the conference needs to step up its play and have teams like Florida State and Miami contending for more than just an ACC title. And second, ACC officials need to move this game to Charlotte and keep it there. In an economic time where money is scarce, and families are forced to choose between a bowl game or a title game, the latter needs to be within driving distance. The ACC is fortunate enough to have a centrally-located fan base and should take advantage of it. The scene in Jacksonville last year was an embarrassment to the league, and this year in Tampa wasn't any better.
Don't doubt Frank Beamer. You can give Beamer your best shot, but he won't go down -- just ask Cory Holt, who almost accidentally took his coach out on the sideline Saturday when he was celebrating and whacked Beamer in his jaw. Even with his "bum knee," Beamer is tough, and he and his staff are the reason the Hokies survived this season in the face of criticism. He did it with the youngest roster he has ever had, and during a season in which playmakers were scarce on both sides of the ball. Beamer has given much of the credit to his senior leadership, but that is a reflection of the staff's attitudes. If they start to lose it, so do the players.
Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC. Even when it's not at its best, Virginia Tech can still beat the best. For the third time in five seasons, the Hokies won the title, and for the second straight year, they're going to the Orange Bowl. Since it joined the ACC, Virginia Tech has been the most consistent program in the league, and will continue to be its representative in the BCS until somebody proves otherwise on the field.
Defense wins championships, but so do quarterbacks. One of the main differences in the ACC championship game was quarterbacks. Boston College backup Dominique Davis was not ready for the big stage, but it's unfair to criticize him, considering it was only the second start of his career, and his first road game as starter. (Then again, the Eagles couldn't win the ACC title with Matt Ryan, either). Tyrod Taylor, on the other hand, showed his maturation against one of the toughest defenses in the country. Both of his rushing touchdowns were called pass plays, but when receivers weren't open, he was able to make plays with his feet.
Auburn has not contacted Jimbo Fisher, and Georgia Tech will try and do what it can to keep Paul Johnson in Atlanta. It's a good sign when your coaches are wanted, but it would only cause problems for their respective programs if either of these guys left. I spoke with Fisher Saturday night and he assured me Auburn has not contacted him or his agent, and that he has been out recruiting. With all of the coaching vacancies, Georgia Tech's Johnson SHOULD be a hot commodity. He has certainly proven any doubters of his offense wrong this season. He's expected to meet with AD Dan Radakovich this week.