Beyond the ACCtion: 2008 ACC Football Kickoff
July 20, 2008
Monday, July 21
The ACC Pre-Season Poll was released today, with Clemson predicted to win the Atlantic Division and Virginia Tech to top the Coastal Division. In the three years of divisional play and the ACC Championship Game, the media has only picked three of the six championship game participants. They have found more success predicting the ACC champion, however, getting it right two of the three years. I’m sure Tommy Bowden hopes that holds true this year as his Tigers were picked to win it all.
At dinner tonight, the winners of the 5th Annual Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Championship were announced. Over 130 golfers had gathered at the crack of dawn to tee off at The Oconee for a Captain’s Choice tournament. Eighteen holes decided a winner, but a three-way logjam at second place forced a tiebreaker.
Paul Hazelwood (Golf Pro, Oconee Golf), Bob Griese (ABC/ESPN), Jeff Jagodzinski (Head Coach, Boston College) and Chris Knight (FedEx Orange Bowl) shot a 59 and claimed victory by one stroke. (There were jeers from the crowd when this stacked team was announced as the winner. Doug Flutie quickly jumped up to accept the $100 gift card on behalf of the absent Eagle head coach.)
Buck Belue (WCNN 860), Joe Giglio (Raleigh News & Observer), Mark Schlabaugh (ESPN.com) and Ray Goodrich (FSN South/SportSouth) were second after the tiebreaker with a 60.
Fred Seely (Jacksonville Daily Record), AJ Henderson (ACC Office) and Carl Danbury (Sports Unlimited) posted a third-place finish despite playing as a trio.
The long drive competition was won by Ray Goodrich on the first hole and Betsy Gafaell (Meineke Car Care Bowl) on the tenth hole. Harris Prevost (Grandfather Mountain) and Gary Petit (Wake Forest Media Relations) knocked it closest to the pin on the eighth and 15th holes, respectively.
Sunday, July 20
The 2008 ACC Football Kickoff continued on Sunday with player interviews. In the words of Duke defensive lineman Vince Oghobaase "I'm not tired, you guys look tired."
The players were interviewed by print media, radio, and television. The session lasted close to four hours with interviews by over 200 members of the media. Oghobaase visited the Director's Room last. It was hard to tell who had a longer day - the players who had to answer the questions or the media members that peppered the players all afternoon.
The players started their day with a (second) meal. Most of student-athletes showed up for breakfast this morning before joining Commissioner John Swofford and representatives of the bowls with ACC tie-ins and the BCS bowls for the Commissioner's Brunch. This year's group of student-athletes was one of the most engaging, according to several bowl representatives. So much so, the brunch ran long and had to be cut short to allow the athletes to get to a photo opportunity.
The players joined Commissioner Swofford in front of Lake Oconee for a photo opportunity. After a group shot, the players paired off with their teammates for several shots, with a fair share of controversy. Each duo would agree on serious or smiles for their pictures in two poses - standing side-by-side and then standing back-to-back. Virginia's duo could not agree as John Phillips scolded teammate Clint Sintim for "flexing his muscles" to out-do Phillips in their photo.
The players caught the first flight out of Atlanta after their interviews were over, while the bowl representatives, media, school officials and several head coaches enjoyed a reception followed by a barbeque supper on the Events Lawn.
Saturday was the first day of the 2008 ACC Football Kickoff. To most of you, that fact is relatively insignificant. But for those who attend this event - ACC and school staffs, coaches and players, members of the media and bowl representatives - this event truly signifies the beginning of another college football season. Freshmen report dates are just around the corner with games beginning in less than six weeks.
So, since most of you are at home taking in a great summer weekend, I am bringing you an inside look at what is happening here at the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation. (If you did not know, we are located midway between Atlanta and Augusta outside of Greensboro, Ga.)
Saturday, July 19
Most of today's activities involved representatives from the college bowl games - those with ACC tie-ins and the BCS Bowls - and the two players per school who are in attendance. I will tell you a little about what the players experienced.
The players arrived at varying times during the day. Their first "obligation" was an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. While there was really nothing interesting that happened - basically just introductions of ACC staff members and a review of the event schedule - it's worth mentioning because it reminded me of the video you see of all of the NFL rookies attending life-skills sessions.
From there, it was on to the driving range where the players got in some practice and received pointers from various pros from the Reynolds Planation courses. The talent level of the players covered the spectrum of seasoned veteran to true beginner. Yes, true to the theory the quarterbacks were among the best, most experienced golfers. Virginia Tech's Orion Martin was one who truly appreciated the instruction as he was on a driving range for "maybe the second time."
After working up an appetite, it was time for dinner on the terrace - a dinner fit for the biggest lineman's appetite. It opened with a huge wedge salad and followed with an entree of both chicken and steak, twice baked potato and green beans. Delicious! And what an atmosphere, a view of the sun setting on the golf course throughout the meal... Spectacular!
Once the sun was down (and we were all stuffed), the scene was set for an evening's competition. It was Atlantic vs. Coastal in a game of putt putt with a twist. The course was laid out with glow sticks on the practice green of the course... in the dark mind you. The players had a great time and saw scores on nine holes range from 14 to 34. With every player's score counting, the Coastal Division won by 41 strokes. Since it's not MLB, the Coastal Division will have to settle for bragging rights (although, the home team in this year's Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game is the Coastal Division team).
After the competition, the players' lounge opened. The room was filled with games... ping pong, foosball and the fan-favorite, Wii. What a great way to finish off the night and unwind.