Tuesday, July 19, 2011
ACC media days preview
By Heather Dinich
This week is when summer officially ends and the season begins -- at least for me, anyway.
Coach Jimbo Fisher and FSU landed another gem for the 2012 class, No. 1 QB Jameis Winston.
I love the ACC's football kickoff. It's the first true sign that summer camp is about to begin and the season is right around the corner. I'll be leaving Saturday evening for Pinehurst, N.C., for the two-day event. On Sunday and Monday, I'll be running around like a crazy woman trying to get as many interviews and videos with players and coaches as I possibly can while blogging and giving you a constant feed of news and notes. This is where you'll get the preseason all-conference and player of the year nominations, and much more. Here are the highlights from the schedule:
Commissioner's 2011 football forum, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (This is basically a state-of-the-state address by John Swofford that's usually followed by a Q&A session with the media.)
ACC football rules/officiating media clinic, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: This is hosted by Doug Rhoads, the ACC's supervisor of officials. He's very knowledgeable and will school us on any new rules and clarify the rules that already exist. I went to this last year and will attend again if time permits.
BCS/ACC bowl partners forum with BCS executive director Bill Hancock and ACC bowl partners, 1:30-2 p.m.
Head coaches' interviews, 2-6 p.m.: This is the main event. The coaches are split up by divisions and rotated in. Each coach sits at a table, and reporters come and go as they please. It's a good time to talk about everything from the upcoming season to issues in the game like pay-for-play.
Here are three topics that should create some buzz this year:
Quarterbacks. I guarantee it won't be three seconds at Tom O'Brien's table before Russell Wilson's name comes up. Wilson could be starting for Wisconsin this year, while Mike Glennon is taking over as a first-year starter. It's one of the most interesting plotlines of the quarterbacks, but more than half the league will introduce rookies. There's also an interesting Commonwealth connection with many of these quarterbacks hailing from the state of Virginia. It's going to be fun to watch these guys compete this year.
Off-the-field issues. I might have to arm wrestle somebody for a seat at Butch Davis' table this year, as the NCAA investigation has been the main storyline in Chapel Hill since the week leading up to last year's opener against LSU. It's not over 'til it's over. And Georgia Tech? The Jackets were just hit with NCAA sanctions that included four years' probation, a $100,000 fine and vacation of the 2009 ACC title. Odds are there will be a question or two about how and why the decision was made to play an athlete whose eligibility was in question.
Florida State. I've said it, written about it and heard about it all offseason -- expectations are soaring for the Seminoles in only Year 2 under Jimbo Fisher. How good is this team? Are the Seminoles the national title contender the ACC has been waiting for?
There are also two new head coaches in the league in Maryland's Randy Edsall and Miami's Al Golden, and plenty of other storylines to follow. Follow me on Twitter @ESPN_ACC and on the blog for complete coverage.