ACC Media Days 2012: Top 10 Storylines

We Give a Rundown of the Top 10 Topics You’ll Be Hearing About at ACC Media Days, Which Start This Sunday

It’s nearly football season. Or at least I keep telling myself as much. But it’s getting even closer with ACC Media Days starting this Sunday, July 22. While I’ll be down in North Carolina myself next week, it sadly won’t be for the event. Nonetheless, I’ll be paying a visit to Chapel Hill and hopefully engaging in some lively banter with locals about BBQ and the upcoming football season.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 talking points we’re likely to see addressed at media days. Some topics (like the top item), commissioner John Swofford and the coaches will have plenty to say about. While others, like the ongoing institutional issues at two universities in particular, will be pushed aside in a valiant attempt to forget about them for two days. Without further ado, your guide to ACC Media Days 2012:

1. Syracuse & Pittsburgh Joining in 2013: After both schools announced separate $7.5M settlements for early exits from the Big East, there’s finally a date attached to their arrival. And while there won’t be any representatives from either institution at the event, there’s bound to be a ton of questions. With the 14-team model now ready to go for next season, we’ll hear all about the new scheduling conventions, permanent rivals, and overall feelings about traveling up to New York and Pittsburgh (odds are no one beyond Boston College is that thrilled). All of this will be framed within the “new era of the ACC” narrative, and everyone will be told how much bigger, better and different things will be.

2. Where are Discussions With Notre Dame at?: This will be a hot topic amongst media attendees, even if Swofford will likely try and pretend there’s nothing going on whatsoever. The league offices have admitted to conversations about the Orange Bowl (we’ll get to that). But what about expansion? If those conversations have started at all, no one’s saying, and rightfully so. As we’ve seen during the last two rounds of expansion, Swofford pulls off deals like this in the dead of night. If something happens, everyone but his secretary will be surprised when it’s announced. Continue reading

More Miami Troubles?: Ray Ray Armstrong and Twitter Violations

Is Ray Ray Armstrong Guilty of Anything Serious, or Just Another Case of a Twitter Mishap?

In the past, we’d discussed the type of job Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden was doing to clean up the program’s image, but also acknowledged that there’s plenty more work to be done. The news back on June 29 about Ray Ray Armstrong and Seantrel Henderson doesn’t necessarily help matters then, despite the seemingly minor infractions for both.

Initial reaction to the news was all about a lack of institutional control and additional flying off the handle using tired, cliched tropes about “The U’s” thug image (which arrest records haven’t really supported for a decade now). Both players appeared to be suspended indefinitely, which meant more headaches for Golden and more heat from the NCAA. But now, it appears that that’s not the case.

Armstrong’s father is on the record claiming that his son will be playing at Miami this season, and has not been suspended for his supposed interaction with a booster on Twitter. Henderson has also disputed reports that he’s out as well, after arriving to camp one day late.

Removing these two players from the status and symbolism associated with Miami, especially with its current NCAA issues, would this even be a blip on the radar were they playing elsewhere? No, neither is necessarily a saint — specifically Henderson, who’s had a rocky collegiate career for the most part — but arriving late for practice and briefly interacting with boosters via Twitter aren’t the type of offenses that get star defenders or any lineman suspended for good. While watching ESPN’s College Football Live on Monday, I saw commentators were quick to call for more sanctions and declare a doomsday scenario for Miami’s recruiting class of 2011 (missing two or more postseasons due to NCAA violations). I’d say let’s hold off judgment for the time being. Continue reading

ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Miami Hurricanes

Will Miami Be Stopped at the Goal Line in a Rematch with Kansas State, or Can the Hurricanes Be Able to Upset the Favored Wildcats?

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Miami Hurricanes

Opponent: Kansas State

Last Year: Loss, 28-24 vs. Kansas State

This Year: September 8, @ Kansas State

In a season full of close calls (their six losses were by a combined 33 points), the ‘Canes early defeat versus Kansas State should’ve told us all we needed to know. With just 49 seconds left on the clock, and the ball on the goal line, QB Jacory Harris just had to punch it in. And yet, he couldn’t do it and Miami would go on to suffer their second of six grueling defeats. State, on the other hand, would pull off another close call amidst a series of them all season. The Wildcats ended up surprising everyone at 10-3 overall; the exact opposite of Miami’s campaign of misfortune. Continue reading

How Does the Miami Hurricanes Football Program Fix Itself?

Amidst a Bevy of Possible NCAA Violations, Miami Football Appears to Be in a Very Dismal State Right Now

From the year 2000 through 2003, the Miami Hurricanes were the toast of college football. Four straight Big East championships. Four straight top-five finishes, tallying a 46-4 mark overall. Four straight appearances in BCS bowl games. One national championship (I’d argue two, and I’m not even a ‘Canes fan), and two more bowl victories over archrivals Florida and Florida State, respectively. And probably, most importantly, an invite to join the ACC. The Hurricanes were once again everything college football wanted: a dominant, marketable team in a major market , that could equally play the parts of hero and villain. Almost as expertly as they had back in the 1980s, Miami once again performed with near-flawless execution. Once they joined the ACC, nothing would stop them, nor the conference, from dominating the game.

Except that’s not what happened at all. Since joining the ACC, the Hurricanes have never won a conference nor a division title. They’ve never won 10 games, never won a prestigious bowl game, nor have they been invited to a BCS bowl or attained a top-10 ranking to end the season. There were no Heisman contenders, they had four different head coaches and to top it all off, a scandal that we’re still waiting to hear the verdict on. People have been talking “death penalty” for the football program for well over a year now.

How the hell did this happen? Continue reading

ACC Football Standout Senior 2012: Miami (FL)

Mike James Will Be Called Upon to Lead the Miami Rushing Game (and Possibly Offense) in 2012

While we won’t be naive (and/or like Rick Reilly/Peter King/insert-your-own-cliched-columnist) and claim there’s some sort of pristine or pure honor in playing out your four years that other players just don’t get to experience, we’d still like to point out the senior players that are likely to stand out in 2012. These players have put in the time during their college careers, and now serve as the cornerstones of their respective teams’ potential success this season.

We’ll be going team-by-team in the ACC to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his team, and why. Have a different thought on the matter? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

Many of the Miami Hurricanes‘ upperclassmen pulled a vanishing act this spring and reappeared at the NFL Draft. That said, you can still find senior contributors on a team likely to deal with just as many obstacles off the field as they will encounter on it. Of those, however, the arrow points to senior halfback Mike James today. Most expect the defense to be fine, and it appears there may be a bit of a quarterback controversy brewing too, in other news. That leaves the running game to guide the ship, something James appears capable of as the primary back now in his fourth season. Continue reading

ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: Miami Hurricanes

Veterans Like Jimmy Gaines Will Be the Key to This Miami team Having a Productive Spring

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: Miami Hurricanes

After a respectable 6-6 season amidst off-the-field distractions, there was a predictable mass exodus for the Hurricanes on both sides of the ball. While senior quarterback Jacory Harris was an expected departure, underclassmen like RB Lamar Miller and WR Tommy Streeter declared early to avoid the repercussions of an NCAA investigation, sprinting from Coral Gables as fast as their 40-yard dash times (each recorded a 4.4) would imply. To replace them, head coach Al Golden will rely on a cast of young, unproven players. Just four offensive starters returned for the ‘Canes in 2012, none of whom beyond senior receiver Allen Hurns play at the big-three skill positions. The leadership role in this young, retooled group then falls to junior QB Stephen Morris — or rather, it would if he wasn’t missing spring practice due to back surgery. Without Morris for the time being, Miami stands little chance at developing the type or rhythm and comfort with the system necessary to succeed at this level. Adding in the fact that you’re dealing with an inexperienced team at nearly every position and it’s a recipe for disaster. The only senior starter is predicted to be running back Mike James, who put up seven touchdowns in limited relief of Miller last year. For the spring at least, he’ll be the glue that helps these players mesh while they wait for their quarterback to heal up.

Continue reading

ACC 2012 Scheduling Outlook: Miami Hurricanes

Miami Head Coach Al Golden Once Again Has His Hands Full in 2012

With all of the insanity going on over in the Big East and elsewhere, we wanted to give a breakdown of each of the ACC‘s schedules — how the teams stack up, and some thoughts on overall difficulty. If these change at all, we’ll also be sure to update them on a rolling basis. All information is up-to-date as of publishing, based on the latest from

Today’s breakdown: Miami Hurricanes

Miami’s 2012 non-conference slate promises to be as challenging as ever — as if the Hurricanes needed anything else to prevent them from finding success this coming season. With the NCAA’s decisions on their off-the-field transgressions still looming, and more accusations possibly on the way, things are fluid down in Coral Gables. What we do know, however, is the uphill battle they’ll face on the field. Like last year, they’ll meet up with a highly-regarded Kansas State program (this time in Kansas), and will also see the hard-to-read USF Bulls at Sun Life Stadium (along with FCS foe Bethune-Cookman). Possibly the biggest test of all will be a visit to Chicago to take on old rivals, Notre Dame. The Irish figure to enter the season ranked, and the October 6 matchup at historic Solider Field should be one of the season’s most anticipated non-league games. Continue reading