Beyond the ACCtion: Pregame Activities

Dec. 3, 2011

Charlie Sallwasser, Special Correspondent for, takes you Beyond the ACCtion in Charlotte as he gets ready for today's big game. Check back for updates throughout the day.

4:30 PM I know Dierks Bentley without even being a fan of mainstream country, so tonight's main event is a big deal. All five of Bentley's major label releases have peaked in the top five of the US country charts and his last four have made appearances in the overall sales charts. People are stoked.

4:00 PM Andre Wadsworth's Bobby Bownden stories from last night's Night of Legends were worth the price of admission. One detailed Bowden driving down a country road while "jamming to some '50s music" and narrowly missing a slow moving vehicle ahead of them without missing a beat. I'm sure his event today will be moving, hilarious and well worth attending if you're at FanFest.

3:15 PM Former Clemson tight end Bubba Diggs was part of the Clemson team that won the 1981 ACC championship and 1982 NCAA title. 30 years later, he won tickets to see his Tigers play in the 2011 ACC Championship Game through the ACC Road Trip Pigskin & Paradise Big Ticket Sweepstakes. Diggs attended last night's Legends dinner with former teammate Perry Tuttle, possibly making this trip more of a win than the Grand Prize trip to Maui would have been for the former Tiger stalwart.

Diggs caught 19 passes for 207 yards in his Clemson career and was renowned as one of the premier blocking tight ends in the ACC. He resides in Augusta, SC and has served as the head coach of the Augusta Colts of the American Indoor Football Association.

2:30 PM David Nail is not your average roughneck country artist – find another country artist whose biography references Michael Buble, Elton John and Frank Sinatra in the first two paragraphs, and I’ll give you my tickets to tonight’s game. Nail has already garnered a Grammy nomination (for the song “Turning Home”) and an Academy of Country Music Award nomination (for the song “Red Light”) only two albums deep into his career, and has developed a following that has already propelled three of his singles into the top 20 of the US Country charts. He hits the Dr. Pepper stage at FanFest at 3:30. Check him out here.

1:45 PM At 3 over at FanFest, a student will have a chance to win a year's tuition by throwing a football into giant Dr. Pepper cans. I've seen someone make a three quarter bank shot at a basketball game for a year's tuition, so this is doable -- and it's a gift their parents will love.

12:00 PM ACC FanFest Presented by AT&T is underway. Click here for the full schedule of events. Me? I'm looking forward to the mascot game, though I bet the reality is slightly different from the NCAA Football '12 version.

11:30 AM Early Ray kicks off the AT&T ACC Fanfest today at noon. Influenced by legends of old school country like Hank Williams, The Statler Brothers and Dolly Parton, Early Ray has built a devoted following of Red Cup Renegades in his short time on the scene. You may have heard his songs in highlight montages on ESPN or the show “Greek,” or seen him sharing stages with artists ranging from David Allan Coe to the Black-Eyed Peas -- two artists I never thought I would be including in the same sentence.

11:00 AM The hardcore devotees from each fan base are already firing up the grills in parking lots around Bank of America Stadium. The best chili I've ever had comes from my Hokie wife's Virginia Tech tailgating cookbook (which is hard to admit as a Virginia fan, so you know it must actually be good). You can see some other examples of what Hokies are munching on here, for a look at Tiger tailgates, click here.

10:30 AM The weather tonight is supposed to be crisp and clear: the temperature at kickoff is supposed to be 42 degrees. For those who were here last year, this is balmy by comparison.

9:31 AM Clemson and Virginia Tech fans may not agree on much today, but the marquee fan blogs from each school have something in common: they both think the Hokies will leave Charlotte as ACC champs. Read Tigernet's preview here and Tech Sideline's preview here.

9:13 AM Curious about what the head coaches are thinking about? ESPN's Heather Dinich took some time yesterday with Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (here) and Dabo Swinney (here).

8:46 AM What you read from this depends on how superstitious you are, but we've got confirmation that a Clemson fan won the Inaugural ACC Championship Chase 5k. More details forthcoming.

8:35 AM It’s Championship Game morning, Christmas music is blasting through our headquarters, and downtown Charlotte is beginning to populate with orange, maroon and purple in preparation for the main event. Stay tuned to this page throughout the day for a running commentary on all of the pregame festivities.