ACC: Maryland Terrapins
- The Big Ten-bound Terps got a recruit straight outta Big Ten country.
- Georgia Tech got a recruit -- from it's own baseball team.
- Is Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins going to have another record-breaking season?
- Syracuse will be looking for a punt return specialist this summer.
- The Scot Loeffler fan club seems to be growing.
- Loeffler will not discuss his recruiting philosophy regarding quarterbacks.
- The ACC has several important games to watch in Week 1.
Just most of it.
Such was the case with the recent “most important game” series, where colleague Andrea Adelson and I picked the make-or-break game on the schedule for each school in the ACC and then narrowed the choices to five for you to cast your vote.
We only disagreed on the key game for four teams -- Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. One of the more interesting debates was over Pitt, as the votes were close between the season opener against Florida State and the game against the Hokies, but the Coastal Division clash won out over the Labor Day game.
Here are the most recent results, in what is still a fluid list:
Our pick: Syracuse
Your vote: 51 percent
Our pick: Florida State
Your vote: 50 percent
Our pick: at Clemson
Your vote: 65 percent
Our pick: Virginia Tech
Your vote: 45 percent
Our pick: at NC State
Your vote: 31 percent
Our pick: Miami
Your vote: 38 percent
Our pick: North Carolina
Your vote: 38 percent
Our pick: Virginia Tech
Your vote: 37 percent
Our pick: Clemson
Your vote: 45 percent
Our pick: Virginia Tech
Your vote: 75 percent
Our pick: at Wake Forest
Your vote: at North Carolina 57 percent
Say what?: It ain't basketball season, guys.
Our pick: at North Carolina (14 percent)
Your vote: Florida State 49 percent
Say what?: You're clinging onto the past, Canes. Win the division first.
Our pick: Georgia Tech (28 percent)
Your vote: at Miami 46 percent
Say what? That Miami game won't mean as much if the Hokies lose in Atlanta first.
Our pick: Duke
Your vote: NC State 41 percent
Say what? Justifiable, but if the Deacs are going to make a comeback, they can't be second-fiddle in-state to Duke.
- Miami has said its peace. Now the waiting game begins.
- Is it time for the NCAA to outsource investigations?
- How will the ACC quarterbacks stack up in 2013?
- Georgia Tech got a commitment from a tight end who says he's willing to lineup just about anywhere.
- UNC coach Larry Fedora says last year was just the beginning for his Heels.
- It's odd reading about Maryland in the Big 33. Sort of like reading about Maryland in the Big Ten.
- Florida State lured in an offensive lineman through its camp.
- Logan Thomas is sold on Scot Loeffler -- and so is the Hokies' newest QB recruit.
- Pitt received a commitment from a three-star safety.
- Two Syracuse linebackers have "scratched and clawed" to get back to a high level of football again.
- Virginia Tech running back Michael Holmes is no longer facing a felony charge and could be reinstated, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Dabo Swinney has added one of his former teammates to his staff.
- A.J. Francis is one of the most personable players in the ACC. His interviews will be missed.
- "Boom Boom" Donna Shalala flashed the U sign when she left the NCAA meetings yesterday.
- Sounds like the Canes have "a pretty strong case."
- Who is the best player on defense for Syracuse?
- Drug charges have been dropped against a former Pitt football player.
- Berry Tramel says the ACC's nonconference schedule isn't nearly as challenging as it was last season.
Here is a glimpse at how talented he thinks this team is headed into 2013: He has Florida State ranked among his Top 15 teams in the nation at: running back , receiver and defensive line . That means Florida State is featured in three of the four position rankings Steele has unveiled on ESPN.com so far.
Of those three groups, he has receiver rated highest of all, which surprises me quite frankly. Florida State has talent, yes, but there is no true national headliner among them. Steele admits as much, writing, "Although there are not a lot of household names in this group, the Noles could have some by the end of the year, including Kelvin Benjamin, who is 6-foot-5, 242 pounds."
No doubt Benjamin is a freak of an athlete, but he has got to be more consistent this season to really strike some fear into the heart of the opposition. Greg Dent is suspended indefinitely following his arrest this week, but Florida State has plenty of talent to make up for his loss. This is pretty high billing for a group that has a bunch of players that still need to prove themselves. We'll see if the Noles receivers can live up to these expectations.
One more ACC team to note in the receiver rankings: Maryland at No. 15, thanks to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.
As for the other rankings, Steele has Florida State ranked No. 12 at running back and No. 8 at defensive line. Interestingly enough, he has the Florida State running back group ranked ahead of Miami, which checks in at No. 13. I understand the reason for that. Florida State returns two very solid backs in Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr., and they add Mario Pender.
Miami counters with ACC Freshman of the Year Duke Johnson and Eduardo Clements, along with spring surprise Dallas Crawford. The Canes get the nod in the headliner category with Johnson; but Florida State has more depth.
There is one ACC team ranked ahead of Florida State on the defensive line -- No. 7 Virginia Tech. No arguments here on that ranking. The Hokies should have a pretty solid front, with seven of their top eight linemen back from a year ago, including end James Gayle. Clemson also made into the rankings at No. 15. Vic Beasley is on course to have a huge season.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in the country, and every conference has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to landing top prospects. This week, we are examining the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame to find each one's strength, the biggest obstacle each faces and the overall view of the conference. The ACC is up today.
Biggest obstacle: Getting out from under the SEC's shadow. This conference shares the same player pool and it needs every matchup versus the SEC to count. Clemson beating LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2012 was big, but over the course of the past few years Clemson, Virginia Tech and FSU haven't always fared as well, and South Carolina has been a thorn in the side of Clemson. This conference needs a resurgence from Miami and North Carolina as well as NC State. The middle- and bottom-tier teams in these two conferences are very comparable. The ACC needs its powers to consistently dominate on and off the field, and for recruiting classes from the likes of FSU, Clemson and Miami to produce double-digit wins.
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- How will Greg Dent's suspension affect the Noles' offense?
- The ACC made more money in TV revenue in 2011-2012 than the Big 12 and Pac-12, reports David Teel.
- The father of Florida State incoming freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas told ESPN's Joe Schad that his son wants to attend USC.
- There is still plenty left to accomplish for Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.
- Former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien won't return to Wisconsin this fall.
- It was a big recruiting weekend in the state of Georgia.
- Congrats to Duke AD Kevin White. Good guy.
- Scheduling in the ACC continues to be a hot topic.
- How much does recruiting correlate to wins in the ACC?
Here is a look at the top eligible transfers in the league with the most potential to turn some heads:
Drew Allen, QB, Syracuse. The Orange actually have three transfers eligible this year -- receiver Quinta Funderburk and defensive tackle John Raymon are the other two. But neither are listed as a starter on the post-spring depth chart. Allen isn't either, but he hasn't yet had an opportunity to show what he can do. Allen will arrive in time for fall practice after deciding to come in from Oklahoma. He has immediate eligibility, and joins the mix to win the starting quarterback job with Terrel Hunt and Charley Loeb his primary competition.
Kellen Jones, LB, Clemson. We all know the Tigers need some help on defense, and they are hoping Jones fits the bill. Jones transferred from Oklahoma and sat out last season because of NCAA rules. During his time at Clemson, Jones has learned all three linebacker spots in order to make himself much more valuable to the team. He is athletic and familiar with coordinator Brent Venables from their time with the Sooners. If he's as good as coaches expect him to be, Clemson's D should be better.
Deon Long, WR, Maryland. The Terps already were expecting an immediate contribution from Long, a junior college transfer who began his career at New Mexico. But you can bet expectations will be even higher now that second-leading receiver Marcus Leak has left the team for personal reasons.
Brandon Mitchell OR Pete Thomas, QBs, NC State. Mitchell is in a similar spot to Allen -- he has immediate eligibility this season for the Wolfpack after transferring in from Arkansas and joins an open quarterback competition. Thomas himself transferred in last year but had to sit out a season because of NCAA rules. In that season, the head coach and offensive style changed, so his pro-style gifts do not necessarily match what Dave Doeren wants to do. Still, Thomas showed some flashes this spring though Doeren is reluctant to give anybody the edge just yet. With Mitchell now joining Thomas and Manny Stocker in the mix, it's anybody's guess who will start the opener.
Pat O'Donnell, P, Miami. Scoff if you must, but O'Donnell is a terrific punter and a workout warrior, and fills a gaping hole on the Hurricanes' roster. Miami may return nearly all its starters on offense and defense, but not on special teams, where the Hurricanes have to replace both punter Dalton Botts and kicker Jake Wieclaw. Getting a punter the caliber of O'Donnell, who transferred from Cincinnati and is immediately eligible, helps ease a big concern.
Matt Patchan, OL, Boston College. The Eagles need major help on the offensive line and could get it in the form of Patchan, who has immediate eligibility after transferring in from Florida. He will be available for fall practice. The only issue to keep in mind is he has been injury prone for his entire career.
Tom Savage, QB, Pitt. It's been a long road back to the football field for Savage, who transferred twice after leaving Rutgers in 2010. Now here he is with one season of eligibility remaining and an opportunity to win the starting job. Though coach Paul Chryst has yet to declare a starter, Savage at least has starting experience. Still, he and Chad Voytik remain in an open competition headed into fall practice. Another Pitt player to watch: Wisconsin transfer tight end Manasseh Garner.
- Florida State receiver Greg Dent was arrested over the weekend and charged with sexual assault.
- Nevin Shapiro reportedly has more ammunition against Miami.
- FOX Sports South ranks the ACC's schedules.
- UNC spent more than $500k to try and tame its public relations nightmare.
- Former Terp Shawne Merriman was rushed to a hospital this past weekend.
- Michael Cohen has some observations for Cuse fans after a weekend at recruiting camps.
- Clemson's strength and conditioning program has gotten a lift.
- Miami has added a linebacker to its recruiting class.
- Some fellow ACC reporters help you get to know Georgia Tech.
Dave in Charlotte, N.C., writes: My solution for the scheduling issue is to place all the teams you want playing every year in the same division. In the current setup, in a dream ACC year, you'd have Miami and FSU playing a rematch in the ACC championship. The Big Ten's dream matchup is even worse -- Ohio St/Michigan playing a rematch one week after their big game. Think about it, what's more appealing? The OSU-Michigan game (most years) having Big Ten Championship implications, or OSU/Michigan playing (every 10-20 years) in the Big Ten championship a week after they just played? Drop permanent crossovers and play two different crossovers every year. Then you'd be playing the other division teams every 3-4 years instead of every six. What do you think?
JC in Miami writes: Hi Andrea, What is the point of being in the same conference if as a fan you can't go to away games more than one a decade against half the schools. Miami won't play in Death Valley until 2022? UNC won't play at Wake until then either! 12 years between visits? If the ACC went with geographic North-South division splits no natural rivals would be separated and you could then have two rotating crossover games. I think this would be much better for everyone involved.
Andrea Adelson: Dave and JC both bring up the frustrations many ACC fans feel over this rotating crossover scheduling AND divisional alignments. I would have no problem with the ACC realigning divisions at this point, considering the additions of Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville. I am not sure it makes much sense to have Louisville in the Atlantic Division and paired up with Virginia as a permanent crossover rival just because it worked for Maryland. Unfortunately, divisional realignment is not even in the discussion stages at this point. One reporter asked commissioner John Swofford at the ACC spring meetings whether there was any talk about shifting divisions around and he had a one-word answer: "No." So for now, ACC fans are stuck with this plan. But for a little fun, let me play commish for a sec. How would these divisions look to you all? Division A: Florida State, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Louisville. Division B: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College, Georgia Tech. The games that need to be played would be played; then you can rotate two cross-divisional games per season. All primary crossover opponents would be in the same division except Louisville-Maryland. But as discussed earlier, that one can be tossed out.
Ben L. in San Diego writes: Outside of the Sun Bowl, why doesn't the ACC line up another PAC-12 team bowl game? They're the only conference the ACC hardly plays in the regular season, and it can be used for great recruiting exposure.
Adelson: Geography, Ben. It makes the most sense for the ACC to stick to games on the East Coast against opponents like the Big Ten and SEC because 1. It helps fans travel to games and 2. That is the primary area where the league recruits. Not sure what ACC teams would gain by a second team further West vs. the Pac-12 when only a handful of schools are recruiting that region. The majority of recruiting battles in the ACC are against the SEC, so it's hard to get much more exposure on that front than matchups between these two leagues in bowl games.
Bill in Vero Beach, Fla., writes: Do you really think anyone but the Maryland fans give a hoot what their Big 10 schedule is going to be? No one else is interested!
Adelson: I feel your pain, Bill, but Maryland remains a member of the ACC blog for this season. Therefore, Terps news remains on this blog.
Justin Thompson in Ocala, Fla., writes: Hey Andrea, Just wanted to comment on your piece about FSU's home schedule. We are having an event almost every single home game this season (Bobby Bowden returning twice, family day, senior day, homecoming) and this clearly screams of exactly what you were talking about. These seem like marketing ploys to try and fill the stadium far more than events to justify ticket prices, a la stadium giveaways. While the schedule aside from at Clemson and at Florida is pretty easy going, my friends and I are already planning our trips for 2014, almost writing off this entire season. It seems to provide little to be excited about, and if Miami doesn't find a line for both sides of the ball, that game is of little interest as well. Boo on the athletic department at FSU for following up last year's laughable schedule with this year's forgettable one.
Adelson: Look, I understand the schedule is not the greatest, and I understand Florida State is in a unique situation asking alums to drive long distances to come to games. Virginia Tech was supposed to come to town this year, but expansion forced that game off the schedule. West Virginia was supposed to be there last year. So there have been attempts at providing a quality home slate. As you mentioned, the 2014 home schedule is going to be terrific. But I thought fans went to all games no matter what, just to support the home team.
Scott in Atlanta writes: As a GT student and an Atlanta native, I'm looking forward to playing Georgia Southern a year earlier than we anticipated. Regional matchups are a great part of college football that we don't get all that much in Georgia.We will now, however, be playing them in the middle of their transition from the FCS to the Sun Belt. Since we will already be playing an FCS team (Wofford) that year, would a win against Georgia Southern count towards bowl eligibility for Tech?
Adelson: I asked Jackets sports information extraordinaire Dean Buchan and he says, "In 2014, Georgia Southern will be an FBS opponent for Georgia Tech. The Eagles, in 2014, will be eligible for the Sun Belt Conference championship, although they will not be eligible for a bowl game."
- Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
- Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State
- Tommy Hibbard, P, North Carolina
- Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
- Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
- James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
- Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
- Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
- Ross Martin, PK, Duke
- Spiffy Evans, PR, Boston College
- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
- Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State
- Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
- Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
- Chandler Catanzaro, PK, Clemson
- Jamal Golden, KR, Georgia Tech
- Rashad Greene, PR, Florida State
Notice anyone missing?
That would be Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. I can pretty much guarantee Boyd will be using the slight as even more motivation, considering it is his goal to be recognized as the best quarterback in America this season.
Here are the four quarterbacks that Steele selected instead: Johnny Manziel, first team; Braxton Miller, second team; AJ McCarron, third team; Teddy Bridgewater, fourth team. Hard to argue with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Manziel, or Miller, who led his team to an undefeated season a year ago.
Bridgewater is a good choice, too, considering many believe he will be one of the first players taken in the 2014 draft if he turns pro at the end of the season. But, in my opinion, Boyd is a better overall quarterback than McCarron. Yes, I know McCarron has led the Tide to two straight national championships. Alabama will be a preseason top 5 team once again. But Boyd is a much more dynamic player with more upside. I view McCarron as much more of a game manager.
In any case, there certainly appears to be a tremendous amount of talent across the country at quarterback. All five go into the season as preseason Heisman candidates. You can throw Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray into the mix as well, along with Marcus Mariota at Oregon. Should be a fun season to watch.
A few other observations:
- It is now clear that folks around the country expect Watkins to have a bounce-back season. Seeing him listed on the first team is testament to all the talent he has, and the belief he will be even better than he was his freshman season.
- Once again, Florida State is well represented, with a league-leading five players recognized. That supplies even more proof that the Noles remain the most talented team in the ACC, despite losing 11 players to the NFL draft.
- When Exum tore his ACL during a pickup basketball game earlier this year, many feared his senior season would be in jeopardy. But Exum has made a remarkable recovery and could play in the season opener against Alabama. Steele clearly has confidence that Exum can remain an elite corner despite his injury setback.
- Ross Martin was a true freshman last season, replacing Will Snyderwine, who ranks No. 3 in school history in points scored. Now, Martin is a third-team preseason All-American. What a rise.
- Commissioner John Swofford addressed a wide variety of topics on the David Glenn radio show, including some discussion about having the league title game played on campus.
- Clemson's academic track record is a centerpiece of Dabo Swinney's recruiting pitch.
- Why did Jumichael Ramos flip from Georgia Tech to NC State?
- Maryland coach Randy Edsall appears on another hot seat list. Joining him on this one -- UVa coach Mike London.
- Outgoing North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp once again says presidents should stay out of athletics matters.
- The timing of Randy Spetman's reassignment is odd, but the decision is not.
- North Carolina, Duke and NC State have moved up in the Directors' Cup standings.
- How did Syracuse land Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen?
- Virginia Tech picked up a commitment from Hampton Roads area receiver Jaylen Bradshaw.
- Orlando is the natural choice to replace Atlanta as the ACC's top bowl destination after the Orange Bowl and playoff.
- Don't expect an ACC Network any time soon.
- Boston College defensive tackle Max Ricci has left the program.
- Former football standouts Brenston Buckner and Terrence Flagler are the newest members of the Clemson Hall of Fame.
- The first session of Dabo Swinney's summer camp features several top 2015 prospects.
- Duke picked up a commitment from quarterback Jonathan Lloyd, who plans on playing baseball for the Blue Devils, too.
- Duke-NC State football matchups are going the way of the dodo.
- Georgia Tech, meanwhile, won't play in Tallahassee until 2022.
- Speaking of Tallahassee, Florida State beat writer Coley Harvey takes a closer look at the future Noles schedules in the Orlando Sentinel.
- Some of the scheduling quirks are just the price of expansion.
- Is Maryland coach Randy Edsall on the hot seat?
- Incoming Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of an accident in his hometown in New Jersey.
- Can Cameron Lynch be the next Shamarko Thomas for Syracuse?
- Former UVa running back Clifton Richardson has transferred to Liberty.
- Virginia Tech continues discussion about where to put its proposed indoor practice facility.
- ESPN Recruiting Nation folks predict where some of the best prospects in the class of 2014 will sign.
Crossover scheduling has become a hot-button issue in the SEC (ask LSU's Les Miles), and now the newly expanded ACC has followed suit.
Would you expect anything else but a crossover from a traditional basketball conference?
The ACC on Tuesday announced each school's conference schedule from 2014 through the 2024 season. Under the new format, each ACC team will play all six divisional opponents annually, one permanent crossover team from the opposite division, and one rotating team from the opposite division.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse are joining the ACC for football this coming season, and Louisville joins the league in 2014.
I get it: When you're trying to create equitable and exciting conference schedules for 14 teams, it's never easy and everyone isn't going to be happy.
For the most part, the ACC got it right with the permanent crossover opponents from the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions. Florida State and Miami might never meet in the ACC championship game, but at least they'll play each other every year in the regular season. Clemson and Georgia Tech will continue their thrilling rivalry every season, and so will instate rivals North Carolina and NC State, and Wake Forest and Duke. Former Big East rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play every season, and Boston College and Virginia Tech were paired together. Louisville was matched up with Virginia as a permanent crossover opponent when it joins the league.
For the most part, the ACC kept its longtime rivalries intact and created some new ones.
But here's the worst part of crossover scheduling: ACC teams will play one crossover opponent only once in the regular season over 11 seasons, and each of those meetings occurs in the 2020 season.
Clemson fans better enjoy their trip to Virginia's Scott Stadium on Nov. 2, because the Tigers aren't going back to Charlottesville anytime soon. The Tigers play the Cavs at Death Valley in 2020.
Likewise, FSU opens the coming season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 2 -- the Panthers' first ACC game -- but the Seminoles aren't scheduled to return a second time until 2025 or later. FSU hosts the Panthers at Doak-Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee in 2020.
While Louisville fans might be chomping at the bit to join the ACC in two seasons, they won't get to experience one of the league's most exciting venues -- Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium -- before 2025. The Hokies are scheduled to play at Louisville in 2020, the schools' only meeting in the 11-year window.
What was the ACC's most egregious scheduling flaw? NC State and Duke might be separated by only 24 miles on Tobacco Road, but their football teams might feel like they're located on opposite coasts. The Wolfpack and Blue Devils are scheduled to play only once between 2014 and 2024.
Let's see the ACC try that in basketball.