The annual ACC Football Kickoff concluded on Tuesday after three days of interviews, press conferences, voting, and previewing of the upcoming season. This year’s kickoff event was held at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
The event is seen as the ceremonial start of the ACC college football season even though we are still 6 weeks away from the official kickoff of the season on Thursday, September 3rd. In fact, Duke, Wake Forest, and North Carolina will all play on the season opening Thursday night. I guess that makes the ACC the official conference of college football, just don’t tell our neighbors to the south or the folks up in Bristol.
Each year every team in the ACC sends two members of the team and their head coaches to the event to take part in interviews and photo opportunities with the media. The event concludes with the announcing of the media’s predicted order of finish for the teams. The preseason all conference selections aren’t revealed until Thursday. For a detailed look at everything that went down over the last three days in Pinehurst, including some video interviews and more, check out TheACC.com.
Here’s the important stuff:
1. Another year of “Coastal Chaos”
Over the past few season its been anyone’s guess how the Coastal Division will shake out. Putting each team’s name in a hat and drawing them out for the order of finish has proven just as scientific as any expert analysis. 2015 looks to be more of the same. Based on ACC media polls every team in the Coastal Division received at least 3 first place votes, except for Virginia, who didn’t receive any. Reigning champion Georgia Tech were picked to finish first again, but have a very tough schedule this season, so close your eyes and pick a team to win, they have as good a chance as anyone else. Here is the official tally for preseason Coastal Division predictions:
(First place votes in parenthesis)
Georgia Tech (96) – 991
Virginia Tech (44) – 841
Miami (7) – 632
Duke (4) – 615
North Carolina (4) – 590
Pitt (3) -535
2. Atlantic Division still a two team race, but who is number 1?
The Atlantic Division hasn’t offered the same amount of parity (or parody?) as the Coastal Division. Florida State and Clemson have been head and shoulders above the rest of the division, especially in recent history, if not forever. The Seminoles have won the division and conference each of the last 3 seasons (technically tied with Clemson in 2012, but went to ACC Title game based on head to head victory), but this season the media has picked Clemson to pass the Noles and take the Atlantic Division and ACC crown, just as they did in 2011. Here’s how the media predictions broke down:
(First place votes in parenthesis)
Clemson (101) – 1,032
Florida State (56) – 992
Louisville (1) – 746
NC State – 673
Boston College – 473
Syracuse – 291
Wake Forest – 217
3. Will Conner repeat?
Pitt’s running back James Conner emerged last year to be crowned the Player of the Year for the ACC. Conner is back this year and looks to continue his bowling ball ways of running over every defender in his path. It would be a huge accomplishment to repeat as ACC POY, and many in the media feel Conner will do just that. There appears to be someone standing in his way to start the season. Deshaun Watson burst onto the scene last year for the Clemson Tigers when they really needed a spark on offense. The freshman quarterback put up some astonishing numbers when he was on the field. His health became an issue down the stretch last year, but 2015 is a new year and the Tigers are hoping to keep Watson on the field this year so they can reach their lofty expectations of an ACC title. Watson edged Conner in preseason POY voting by a margin of 69-46.
4. Freudian slip?
Perhaps the biggest noise maker coming from this year’s ACC Kickoff had very little to do with football. The conference releases its media guide at the event, it features rosters, schedules, stats, and plenty of other team and conference specific information. This year’s edition of the media guide contained an unexpected, perfectly placed line of thought (NSFW, maybe?) that must have accidentaly, although I hope purposefully, slipped past the editor’s eyes. It was simple, but certainly capsulated a thought many fans, adminstrators, coaches, players, and many others have had in regards to many moments in football history. The safe for work version is “Forget this stuff.” We may never find out the particular event or action that spawned this thought. Was it the sheer volume of typing the complete media guide? An opinion on a particular teams outlook for the season? Or maybe an indictment of the conference as a whole? One thing is for sure, this three word line will live forever as a piece of #goacc history.