From the moment you step foot onto Pinehurst’s prestigious property, you get a sense that you’re walking on hallowed ground.
Whether you’re playing on the historic no. 2 course or just chipping balls under Donald Ross’ portrait at the Pinecrest Inn, there’s a distinct tradition oozing from this special place. Match Pinehurst’s living history with the uncompromised tradition of the ACC and it made for quite a wonderful weekend at 2015 ACC Kickoff.
2015 marks the sixth year that ACC Football Kickoff has been held at Pinehurst and the first time since 2011. A total of 454 media members registered for the event, topping the previous high of 451 set last year in Greensboro.
Kickoff opened Sunday on the golf course with close to 150 media members taking part in the annual Skeeter Francis Memorial Tournament. The relaxed southern hospitality of Pinehurst continued into Monday, as the players took part in interviews and other various marketing activities.
Student-athletes attending the Kickoff had an early wake-up call on Monday morning with live interviews beginning in full force at 8 a.m. That didn't prevent players from cruising through interviews all day long. Nothing a little coffee can't fix, right?
Commissioner John Swofford got ACC Kickoff officially underway on Monday morning at 11:30 am, talking to the media for just over 30 minutes. Swofford highlighted the conference’s three pinnacles of success: academics, athletics and integrity.
“Even through the challenging times…our schools remain committed to the cornerstones that have defined this league for decades,” Swofford remarked.
He then went on to dismiss any possibility of an expansion to the CFB playoff in the near future.
“There are two bookends,” Swofford said. “One are the exams. They don’t want a playoff going on during most schools’ exams. The other bookend [is that] they don’t want college football to become a two-semester sport.”
The leader of the conference answered various media questions, particularly concerning the league’s revenue as well as creating a potential ACC TV channel.
“We continue to have quality discussions with ESPN,” Swofford commented on the possibility of developing an ACC television network. “I know you’re very tired of hearing me talk and not say much on that subject,” the Commish joked, drawing a ton of laughter from the room.
As the players embarked on a long day of media frenzy, the ACC Digital Network left a lasting impression.
One of the most popular activities from Kickoff was the “ACCDN Play Call” series, in which players and coaches provided their best play-by-play over their respective teams' highlights. UVa head ball coach, Mike London, did his best Howard Cosell impression over a Canaan Severin one-handed TD grab. Coach London even threw in a Muhammad Ali impression for good measure.
No one else had more fun with this than Miami (FL) head coach, Al Golden. Coach Golden went absolutely nuts over a Phillip Dorsett TD bomb from QB Brad Kaaya. Coach Golden may just have a future career in broadcasting if he ever hangs up the coaching towel.
Throughout both media days, the ACCDN team provided a ton of fun and evergreen content. You could find Jeff Fischel either playing paper football with FSU kicker, Roberto Aguayo, or chipping balls at the Pinecrest Inn with former PGA champion, Steve Elkington.
Courtney Cox could be seen running every which way, trying to complete her round of 18 Kickoff tasks. From taking a selfie with Commissioner Swofford, to learning how to do the Texas 2 Step and the Pretzel with Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer, Courtney truly crushed the ACC Kickoff scavenger hunt.
Pretty safe to say the ACCDN left quite a memorable footprint at ACC Football media days. Thanks for the hospitality, Pinehurst, you were the perfect setting to transition into the football season. Until next time.