ACC Football Kickoff 2013: Top 10 Storylines

What Are the Main Storylines We'll See at This Year's ACC Football Kickoff?

What Are the Main Storylines We’ll See Brought Up at This Year’s ACC Football Kickoff?

Can you believe we’re actually within shouting distance of football season once again? North American sports’ longest offseason is nearly over! We know this because media days are popping up all over the place, most notably (for our purposes here), the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., starting this Sunday, July 21 and going on through Monday, July 22. Sadly, I will not be there in-person.

We’ve already see the list of student-athlete attendees, but that’s not the only focus — far from it. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 talking points we’re likely to see addressed at the two-day event. Some topics (see: the top few items) will be the overarching theme for all in attendance, while others will simply be underlying points of conversation everyone wants to try desperately to escape from. Without further ado, your guide to the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff:

1. Say Hi to the New Guys: Syracuse and Pittsburgh (plus non-football member Notre Dame) got a very warm welcome to the ACC on the weekend prior to July 1, hanging around New York City with mascots and such. But the festivities included very little talk of football, so you’ll be hearing plenty about the Orange and Panthers now instead. Expect questions about the adjustments the teams will need to make coming from the Big East, road trips they’re most looking forward to and plenty on whether they expect to compete right away. Also curious about the local media turnout from both areas, plus with no dedicated ACC beat writer (especially for football), will the New York Times be attending?

2. Six-Year Bowl Cycle: I wrote up a pretty extensive breakdown of the bowl agreements the ACC announced yesterday over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, so for full details I’d recommend going there. But with a drastically improved bowl lineup, this will be a hot topic. People will also want to know how some of the alternating bowls will work, specifically the Gator/Music City setup, and I’d love to hear that response myself.

3. Grant of Rights: The amount of “Ninja Swofford” references during the two days may reached the hundreds. And why shouldn’t it? Without commissioner John Swofford’s typical backdoor dealing, the mood around the weekend is very, very different. Instead, it’s a pretty jovial occasion, which also leads to another topic that’s been on everyone’s minds ever since said grant of rights announcement was made…

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Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Football Strength of Schedule Rankings

Pittsburgh (Somehow) Has the ACC's Toughest Schedule in 2013

Pittsburgh (Somehow) Has the ACC’s Toughest Football Schedule in 2013

Once again, Phil Steele has released his preseason strength of schedule rankings. And once again, the ACC hasn’t performed so well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — an elite team should be able to run through an easy schedule without much issue. But it also serves as a black eye on the conference for the relative lack of strength the teams possess in Steele’s eyes.

First, a look at Steele’s rankings. These are determined by looking at his nine sets of power ratings, plus the number of home and away games. The NCAA does a strict opponent W-L record method, which we’ll take a look at below as well.

Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Strength of Schedule Rankings (numbers are national rankings)

24. Pittsburgh Panthers

27. Virginia Cavaliers

36. Boston College Eagles

41. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

42. North Carolina Tar Heels

46. Syracuse Orange

48. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

55. Clemson Tigers

57. NC State Wolfpack

59. Virginia Tech Hokies

60. Miami Hurricanes

62. Maryland Terrapins

64. Florida State Seminoles

77. Duke Blue Devils

98. Louisville Cardinals

Some thoughts:

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ACC Announces Student-Athlete Attendees for 2013 ACC Football Kickoff

Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd is One of 28 Players Attending the ACC Football Kickoff

Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd is One of 28 Players Attending the ACC Football Kickoff

The ACC has announced the list of football student-athlete attendees for the ACC Football Kickoff today. A fancy way of saying “Media Days,” the event will take place on July 21 and 22 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C. Each schools’ coaches will be in attendance, as will two representatives per team.

The list:

Boston College: QB Chase Rettig (Sr.), LB Steele Divitto (Sr.)

Clemson: QB Tajh Boyd (Sr.), LB Spencer Shuey (Sr.)

Duke: QB Anthony Boone (Jr.), CB Ross Cockrell (Sr.)

Florida State: WR Rashad Greene (Jr.), CB Lamarcus Joyner (Sr.)

Georgia Tech: OT Will Jackson (Sr.), DE Jeremiah Attoachu (Sr.)

Maryland: QB C.J. Brown (Sr.), CB Dexter McDougle (Sr.)

Miami: QB Stephen Morris (Sr.), DE Shayon Green (Sr.)

North Carolina: QB Bryn Renner (Sr.), DE Kareem Martin (Sr.)

N.C. State: WR Rashard Smith (Sr.), CB Dantae Johnson (Sr.)

Pittsburgh: WR Devin Street (Sr.), DT Aaron Donald (Sr.)

Syracuse: C Macky MacPherson (Sr.), DT Jay Bromley (Sr.)

Virginia: OT Morgan Moses (Sr.), DE Jake Snyder (Sr.)

Virginia Tech: QB Logan Thomas (Sr.), LB Jack Tyler (Sr.)

Wake Forest: WR Michael Campanaro (Sr.), LB Justin Jackson (Sr.)

Some additional thoughts:

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ACC vs. Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl: Will NYC Ever Matter in College Football?

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-NY Area Teams

For the Pinstripe Bowl to Become More Important, it Needs Non-New York Area Teams Invited

As most are aware by now, the ACC has signed on with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (located at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY) for a six-year term starting in 2014. The game will rotate the league’s third through sixth postseason selections, and will match the ACC up against the Big Ten, the only other major conference with a foothold near the New York area. Obviously, this sets the stage for what should be an interesting battle between the two conferences to gain market share in the nation’s largest television market (and the largest without a major college football team to call its own).

Over its three years of existence thus far, the Pinstripe Bowl has found success in featuring nearby teams Syracuse and Rutgers, and pitting them against Big 12 schools they wouldn’t normally play (or in the case of West Virginia, played regularly for decades). With those two schools off to the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, this move only makes more sense now. It also allows the Pinstripe Bowl to continue moving up in the bowl payout hierarchy, but will that mean a bump up in importance as well? Last year, the Pinstripe Bowl’s $1.8 million payout was 12th among non-BCS games in terms of payout. Now, with a more lucrative setup matching up teams either from nearby campuses or with large alumni bases in New York, I’d bet that number has a chance to increase. The key, however, will be variety.

The biggest knock on the Pinstripe Bowl up to this point is that it hasn’t had to deal with hosting teams outside of the New York/New Jersey corridor, featuring SU twice and Rutgers once — all wins for the “home” team. Northeast football fans don’t exactly have a sterling reputation for traveling, so this arrangement — despite the fact that it’s in the snowy northeast in December — has been advantageous for both sides. I’m doubtful this will continue, however, if the two teams continue to be shuttled off to the Bronx. And that’s where the rest of the teams in their respective conferences come in.

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NCAA Releases APR Rates: How ACC Football Fared

Duke Once Again Topped the ACC's APR Scores; But How Did the Other Schools Fare?

Duke Once Again Topped the ACC’s APR Scores; But How Did the Other Schools Fare?

Today, the NCAA released its annual APR rates, which evaluates just how well institutions encourage actual “student athletes” to progress through school and graduate. As you may have heard, it’s caused some controversy around college sports, specifically because it penalizes schools for transfers, and schools see additional penalties if players don’t complete classes after declaring for the draft (more common in basketball than football, really).

Given the ACC‘s sense of academic stature, ratings like these should not be much of an issue, though. Out of a score of 1000, all you have to do is maintain at least a 930 (very few institutions were unable to do this during the 2011-12 evaluation period). And yet, a couple ACC schools struggled mightily. Two were just above the cut line, while another finished under. Just four were under 950 this year, though (compared to five last year). Overall, however, the league managed a pretty high average, with Duke achieving the third-highest football score in FBS, at 989. Northwestern was tops in FBS at 996, followed surprisingly by Boise State (993). The full ACC team breakdown for you:

Duke: 989

Clemson: 985

Georgia Tech: 983

Boston College: 982

Miami: 977

Wake Forest: 970

Virginia Tech: 970

Pittsburgh: 962

Virginia: 959

Syracuse: 958

Florida State: 954

NC State: 947

Maryland: 937

North Carolina: 934

Louisville: 924

Some additional thoughts:

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Early 2013 ACC Football Betting Lines

"Clean, Old Fashioned Hate" is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

“Clean, Old Fashioned Hate” is One of 48 ACC Matchups With Current Betting Odds in Vegas

While I’m not endorsing gambling (unless you’re in Las Vegas, then go right ahead), it’s always a great sign that college football’s right around the corner when you can start betting on games. To that end, Golden Nugget’s sports books have published lines for almost 250 games this fall — 48 of which are involving ACC squads. The full list of ACC games, which I’ve included below, are gleaned from the list provided by Don Best via SB Nation.

Week One

North Carolina at South Carolina (-12)

Penn State at Syracuse (+6.5) (at East Rutherford, NJ)

BYU at Virginia (+3.5)

Alabama at Virginia Tech (+17) (at Atlanta)

Georgia at Clemson (+3.5)

Florida State at Pittsburgh (+13)

Week Two

Syracuse at Northwestern (-13)

Oregon at Virginia (+21)

Florida at Miami (+2.5)

Week Three

Boston College at USC (-21.5)

Nevada at Florida State (-26)

Louisville at Kentucky (+14)

Week Four

Clemson at NC State (+11)

North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-4.5)

West Virginia at Maryland (+2)

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ACC Releases Rotating Crossover Opponents Schedule Through 2024

Matchups Like Clemson/Virginia Tech Will Be A Lot Less Frequent Going Forward

Cross-Divisional Matchups Like Clemson/Virginia Tech Will Be A Lot Less Frequent Going Forward

I’ve written about this elsewhere, so I’ll keep this post brief; just wanted to make sure I got a post up about it, and provided links to team-centric reactions where applicable.

Yesterday, the ACC announced its scheduling matrix for rotating divisional crossover opponents from the 2014 season through 2024. With two seven-team divisions, it’s nothing too complicated. Each team simply plays the six other schools in its own division, plus one permanent crossover (make it stop!) and a rotating crossover. The result, unfortunately, is only playing schools in the same conference once every six years (and once every 12 at home). So for those keeping track at home, ACC schools will play Notre Dame more often in a 12-year stretch than they’ll play schools in the opposite division. “TOTALLY MAKES SENSE.”

Everyone has some gripes here and there — specifically the North Carolina schools, some of whom fall victim to the situation described above — but on the bright side, it’s nice to have a decade’s-worth of football opponents already set in stone. Sadly, it does kill off any big ideas for divisional realignment, which is another major downside to all of this. Still, check out the graphic the league put together (they’re getting very good at these):

ACC FOotball Opponents 2014-2024 Divisional Crossover Rivals Atlantic Coastal Rotating

(click to enlarge)

Below you can read up on team-by-team reactions over on SB Nation, including the Syracuse perspective which was penned by yours truly yesterday afternoon.

Boston College: BC Interruption

Florida State: Tomahawk Nation

NC State: Backing the Pack

North Carolina: Tar Heel Blog

Pittsburgh: Cardiac Hill

Syracuse: Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician

Any additional thoughts? Share your complaints/suggestions to make things better below!

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