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July 24, 2011
Beth Mechum, Website Intern for the Atlantic Coast Conference, takes you Beyond the ACCtion in Pinehurst for the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff. Check theACC.com daily for more entries.
A 6:30 a.m. wakeup call on what most hardworking Americans consider a day of rest. Was I upset though? Nowhere close, I barely slept in anticipation of my first ACC Football Kickoff. We were on the road to Pinehurst by 7:45 and coffee and excitement fueled the drive.
I've covered one media day - ACC Operation Basketball - in my time, but now I'm on the other side, working for the ACC. After four years of journalism school and one year of full-time newspaper writing, I have to say, it's kind of nice on the other side. I love rooting for teams in the ACC and not having to hide it, plus I enjoy promoting schools and student-athletes who I think deserve a ton of credit.
First up was checking in and breakfast. I enjoyed the slow pace while I could because I knew it was the last time I'd be there. I saw a couple of players working on a jigsaw puzzle in the Pinehurst Resort lounge - a great way to beat the heat and stay busy. While the players found ways to keep themselves busy, many of the coaches hit the links.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford's forum was the first big event of the day. It was a packed house with most chairs filled and people lining the walls, some even sat cross-legged on the floor. With so much attention on college football and the NCAA this year, everyone was looking forward to Swofford's remarks. It's not really my job to analyze or summarize - but there is a video and a press release so make sure to check it out. I had "microphone-holding" duty. I didn't mind the job, but with trying to figure out who to give the microphone to and where to stand to not be in anyone's way, it was hard to actually listen to the questions and answers.
The forum is where we encountered our first problem. Due to not enough power, our streaming video on theACC.com was too jumpy to watch. We eventually had to take it down. Because one of my jobs is to monitor our Twitter feed - I saw some not so great comments about that situation. And again, with being on the "other" side, I realize how much hard work goes into something like this and it really does make us feel bad that people weren't able to see something we promised they could. For the student-athlete interviews, we did some tweaking, and we got the live stream up and running. Some of those same people crushing us before thanked us for figuring things out (We appreciate that!).
That's the kind of thing social media allows for. We as the ACC can have a conversation on Twitter and Facebook with our fans. We see what our fans want and then we do our best to provide it.
After the Forum, players were ushered outside for photos. There's something about seeing football players in their uniforms sans shoulder pads that just feels wrong. Their considerable upper arms look uncomfortable in the jerseys and khakis instead of football pants doesn't match. We'd rather watch those guys tear it up on the football field and something tells me they'd prefer that too, but they all had great attitudes about it. It was the football players who complained least about the heat they were in - those practices on scorching fields make standing around for 20 minutes on the 95-degree Pinehurst lawn seem mild.
Luckily for our photographer, that was the only time of day that was bright and sunny. Shortly after, the sky opened up and the rain poured down. Lights flickered causing a slight panic for media and ACC staff members alike - files were saved quickly and jokes were thrown around - will the ice cream melt? Will there be pandemonium in the carefully manicured streets of Pinehurst? Looks like the Pinehurst Resort has it under control though, this isn't their first rodeo - or their first ACC Football Kickoff.
I was down in the media workroom and print/website media interviews most of the afternoon. With the curtains closed and the rain pounding on the roof combined with the murmured voices of sportswriters and student-athletes alike, time sort of flew by. It was a bit flashier with the radio and TV guys upstairs. There you saw guys you recognized - Pat Forde and Jesse Palmer, to name a couple, but I kind of like it with the print and web reporters. It's fun watching the writers at work. First come the interviews, trying their hardest to get a word in at a packed round table with two student-athletes - then, it's the mad rush to their computers to tap out their tweets, updates and stories.
Half of the teams were upstairs - the other half downstairs, then they switched. With the switch came the ice cream social. It was well deserved for the media, players and ACC staffers and volunteers. I'm sure the athletes get just as tired answering the questions as the media get typing up their answers. Served up with a smile was vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate and butterscotch sauces, cherries and chocolate shavings. The ice cream was good, but the bowls too small. Isn't that always the way?
After the quick break, it was back downstairs to Carolina Hall. There, it was searching through articles and tweets from the media to see what's being said about us and our players. Because I was unable to go around to all the interviews myself, it was a great way to see/read/hear what the players were saying.
Boston College's Luke Kuechly and Montel Harris received a bunch of compliments on how they gave great interviews and Florida State's EJ Manuel and Brandon Jenkins impressed people as well. Duke's Matt Daniel's also received a nod for best interview.
There was a lot of talk on Twitter about the rivalry between Miami and Florida State - most in good fun. I saw a great quote from North Carolina's Tydreke Powell - in his ideal dinner he would be joined by Beyonce, Oprah and Bill Gates.
Other anecdotes I found interesting were talk of Randy Edsall's discipline and Virginia Tech getting a lot of love as the favorite to be the ACC Championship game winner - at least from the people who like to talk about those types of things on Twitter. (We'll see what the preseason poll says tomorrow.)
After the interviews, workrooms grew quiet, Twitter slowed down and the typing and editing began in earnest. That's where I'll sign off too. Later tonight we have a reception, dinner and the student-athletes get to hang out in the Pinehurst Resort game room. I can only imagine the competitive juices flowing there.
Check back tomorrow mid-morning for a recap of the night, then again tomorrow night for a final signoff from Pinehurst.