Beyond the ACCtion: ACC Welcomes A Legendary Group

Nov. 13, 2012

Steve Phillips, Associate Director of Communications for the Atlantic Coast Conference, takes you Beyond the ACCtion. Today's article looks at the 2012 ACC Football Legends class.

Talk with members of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 2012 Football Legends class for any length of time, and one common theme seems to prevail.

"It just means I've been around a long time," more than one remarked during recent interviews for Q&A sessions that are being featured on throughout this week.

But it means much more. Some of this year's ACC Legends have been around longer than others, but all have two things in common: Each contributed to a storied football history at his alma mater, and each owns individual achievements that have stood this test of time.

This ACC's 2012 "Night of Legends" will be held in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday, Nov. 30 - the evening prior to the ACC Championship Game. This will mark the eighth year that the conference has recognized a Football Legends class, but the genesis of the program can be traced back a few years further.

The ACC first began informally honoring a Men's Basketball Legends Class in 1999. The first Legends event was a luncheon in Atlanta in 2001, hosted by Brad Nessler. The first Legends Brunch was in 2002 in Charlotte at the Radisson Suites Hotel, where Dick Vitale was the Master of Ceremonies.

The honoring of men's basketball paved the way for similar Legends programs in football and women's basketball.   The ACC sets no criteria when it comes to the naming of a "Legend."  Member schools are asked to choose a former player, coach or administrator they feel has made a contribution to the sport. The only requirement is that the honoree be available to attend the ceremony that will honor his or her class.

This 2012 ACC Football Legends Class, like those that preceded it, is a diverse group.

The oldest member is Maryland's Chet Hanulak, who played in the ACC in the first year of its existence and starred on the Terrapins' 1953 National Championship team. The group's younger bloc includes North Carolina's Dre' Bly, NC State's Torry Holt and Virginia Tech's Pierson Prioleau - all of whom played college football as recently as the late 1990s and retired from the NFL within the last two years.

Several, such as Miami's Ted Hendricks and NC State's Holt, were NFL superstars. This year's class includes a former college coach and administrator (Duke's Mike McGee) and a former standout player who also excelled in the broadcast booth and in the real estate market (Virginia's Frank Quayle).

There are those who have found success in business (Boston College's Bob Hyland, Florida State's Sam Cowart and Wake Forest's Ed Stetz), a career counselor (Clemson's Bennie Cunningham) and a minister (Georgia Tech's Ken Swilling). Philanthropic foundations, such as those established by Hendricks, Bly and Holt, reach out to thousands of all ages.

The list of ACC Legends keeps growing, not with those who have simply "been around" for awhile, but with those who have made the most of that time.