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ACC mailbag: Darkhorses, division trading and more

Here's hoping everyone enjoys Memorial Day Weekend. And a hearty thanks to all who serve and have served.

As for questions ...



Matt Fortuna: Matt, these hypotheticals are always fun. Colleague Andrea Adelson ran some numbers a few weeks ago with Syracuse and Pitt to see how much of their early ACC fortunes were due to simple luck of the divisional draw. While it is tempting to separate Clemson and Florida State for the sake of divisional balance, I think a majority of folks, myself included, would hate the idea of losing that annual game. (A potential ACC title game notwithstanding.) Still, things remain one-sided in favor of the Atlantic thanks to its upper echelon. So with balance in mind, I'd place Louisville in the Coastal. The Cardinals of recent years are capable of competing for the Coastal title annually, but they seem virtually pigeonholed in the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic so long as Clemson and FSU continue their dominance. As for the Cards' replacement? How about Pitt? The Panthers are another relative newcomer to the league, so you're not tarring much of the history that you would with moving a Virginia Tech or a Georgia Tech from the Coastal. Pitt is also an annual bowl team that is on the rise under Pat Narduzzi, giving the program separation from the Atlantic's bottom three teams and a lofty standard to aim for in Clemson and Florida State.

Have any other suggestions? Share them with us on Twitter.


Matt Fortuna: Funny, and probably deserved, in light of NC State's 7-6 campaign last year. Perhaps the lack of attention will work in the Wolfpack's favor this year. After all, Florida State fatigue seemed to be a real thing after a highly-touted Seminoles team was eliminated from the national title chase early in 2012. All the Seminoles did the next year was win it all, in mostly dominant fashion (and without much preseason fanfare). More recently, many, myself included, seemed to give up on the sleeping giant that North Carolina could be after the Tar Heels' poor showing to close 2014. Sure enough, with most of the nation through with overhyping UNC, the Heels posted an impressive 11-3 mark last season. Just food for thought for NC State fans.


Matt Fortuna: There are plenty of reasons to expect Georgia Tech to turn things back around this season, as we have discussed throughout the spring. Then again, Paul Johnson was pretty candid after the spring game about the offense's shortcomings, and he spoke earlier this spring about the challenges of replacing an entire starting secondary. As for any hot-seat talk, Johnson signed an extension in 2014 that will keep him locked up through the 2020 campaign, so I don't think he's going anywhere, barring something truly catastrophic.


Matt Fortuna: Tom, if one guy pulls away in fall camp and earns the starting job convincingly, then gets off to a hot start, one would have to believe that the locker room would be just fine with the situation at quarterback, be it DeShone Kizer or Malik Zaire. The most plausible way for the situation to become controversial is if the starter eventually struggles, since everyone knows Notre Dame has two capable QBs and both are highly respected in the locker room.