Beyond the ACCtion: 2011 ACC Football Kickoff Roundup

July 26, 2011

Visit the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff Site

Beth Mechum, Website Intern for the Atlantic Coast Conference, takes you Beyond the ACCtion in Pinehurst for the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff. Check daily for more entries.

My first ACC Football Kickoff is in the books. There’s still a lot of work to be done before the official kickoff of college football in about a month, but believe me, there was a big sigh of relief in the office that the “event” was finished, and most importantly, that it was a success. It’s sort of amazing to me how much work goes on behind the scenes at these events, both before and during, and how things just fall into place. Of course there was a lot of work during too, my back and shoulders were in pain after hunching over a computer screen and cell phone for 12 hours straight and I was tempted to sneak off to take in a Pinehurst Resort spa day, but alas, had to have its archived videos more than I needed a massage.

We haven’t had our new employee orientation at the ACC yet, but I think Kickoff is the best thing to do in terms of orientation. There I got to meet and see student-athletes, coaches, sports information directors, media members, etc. whose names and faces were familiar. I didn’t get to meet close to everyone I was hoping to, but as games, championships and seasons begin and end, I’m sure that won’t be a problem. But more than as an employee, as a fan, going to Kickoff is really a treat.

There are a couple of things I took away as big themes from the event. One was nonconference games. Nonconference games were a big topic of conversation, both before the bulk of the ACC schedule starts and after. Predicted strength of early-season nonconference opponents doesn’t change the way the coaches prepare or think about a season, according to the coaches. Appalachian State’s win over Michigan in 2007 and similar upsets loom large in the minds of many.

Plus, teams ranked high or low at the beginning of the season are subject to change by the time bowl season comes around – the most important stat always is and always will be wins and losses.
And it wasn’t just the coaches talking about nonconference wins. Commissioner John Swofford said in his Fourm Sunday that the ACC as a whole needs to perform better in high profile nonconference games.

Not all teams start off with nonconference games though. Miami and Maryland will compete against each other on the national stage on Labor Day for both teams’ first game of the season. On one hand, a Monday night game comes with extra preparation (and never underestimate the allure of national recognition for future recruits), but there is another hand in this equation.

Each of these teams has a new coach and neither one wants to start of his new job with a loss. I understand that, but as a fan of ACC Football and college football in general, I can’t wait. Plus, I won’t have to wait a week for the next game. Let’s just say football fever has firmly encroached itself in my psyche and August just might be the longest month of the year.

Luckily just because Kickoff isn’t over doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of football left to discuss. The preseason All-ACC teams will come out tomorrow and there’s already rampant discussion about preseason rankings and player of the year voting. Looks like the media thought a little differently than the hundreds of tweeters I looked through for an informal poll. Florida State was a runaway favorite to win the ACC Championship game, but Virginia Tech supporters are crying foul. Granted Florida State has received a lot of hype, and perhaps deservedly so, but Virginia Tech has been proving it on the field for years and fans think they deserve a little more respect.

Honestly, I don’t know who will be in that ACC Championship Game, and I definitely have no idea who will win it – but I am excited to see it in primetime on Dec. 3 in Charlotte. Whoever the teams are, I have no doubt the extreme amount of work it will take for them to get there.

Nonconference games, the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game and preseason picks were the main topics I heard just walking around Pinehurst, but they weren’t the only ones – a couple of snippets before I sign off:

  • Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe shot a 71 on Pinehurst No. 2
  • The sun is hot on and around the coast this year, there were many comments on how tan many of the coaches looked, Maryland’s Randy Edsall in particular
  • Most of the student-athlete golfers were novices (and looked it), but more than one person talked about how much fun it looked like they were having
  • Folks walking by ACC Coordinator of Officials, Doug Rhoads’ officiating session might have thought they were passing by a comedy club; roars of laughter were coming from the room – many due to Rhoads and Tommy Bowden’s back and forth about penalty and non-penalties.
  • The meals were all superb at Pinehurst Resort but the most raving reviews were reserved for the crunchy pickle spears provided at lunch, a must try if you’re in the area.
  • Boston College vs. Northwestern play on the first weekend – the best fun fact we found? Clinton Kelly, host of TLC's "What Not to Wear," received his undergrad degree at BC and did graduate work at Northwestern. I wonder who he’ll be rooting for.

There’s still a little while before a literal football is kicked off for the season, but the conversation never stops. Visit and follow @theACC and @theACCfootball to join in.