Some early-morning thoughts from the plush Grandover Resort in Greensboro:
1. There is an aura of inevitability around Clemson. The conversation about who will—or should—win the ACC Championship this season is getting to be a boring one. Trying to suggest any team other than the Tigers only gets a response of blank stares or “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” facial expressions.
Clemson came to Greensboro as the absolute favorite to win the ACC this season, which should be reflected when the media picks are announced today. It is a different feeling, but one Tajh Boyd and Spencer Shuey seemed to be comfortable with.
2. The same sense surrounds Tajh Boyd in the Player of the Year race. The same reactions come up when names other than Boyd’s are thrown around as potential candidates. The only one I’ve seen get any traction is Sammy Watkins, but then the comment is inevitably made about Watkins only getting the ball if Boyd throws it to him, and the argument ceases.
Boyd is as comfortable and confident as anyone at events like this. He relishes the opportunity in a unique way, and it is interesting and enjoyable to watch. Make no mistake: If the Clemson quarterback is in a room at the Grandover, it won’t be hard to find which one.
3. Florida State wants a piece of Clemson. I spent some time with DB Lamarcus Joyner and WR Rashad Greene of the Seminoles today, and both of them grinned from ear to ear when presented with the opportunity to face Clemson on the road. According to witnesses, Joyner even went on a rant in the media room about how they are going to beat the Tigers this season.
It is clear the Seminoles aren’t going down quietly this season, and the idea behind #1 on my list has gotten to them. It could be a rallying cry this season, which could spell trouble for opponents who have preyed on FSU’s woeful inconsistency in the recent past.
4. Wake Forest still remembers the chance that slipped away two years ago. One of the most interviews I was a part of on the first day of the ACC Kickoff came when Wake receiver Michael Campanaro sat down and began to talk about the one that got away two seasons ago in Death Valley. It was clear he and his teammates still felt the sting.
He basically said the Demon Deacons were better, knew they were better, and were devastated by their inability to put the Tigers away. He says Death Valley is a hostile place, but the debacle from 2012—coupled with a beatdown at the hands of Clemson last season in Winston-Salem—is definitely a motivator for this team.
5. Pitt and Syracuse seem to be transitioning well. If there was any noticeable difference between Pitt, Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, and Boston College yesterday, I missed it. The welcome mats have been laid down with gladness for the Panthers and the Orange, and the two newcomers have acclimated nicely to the surroundings.
Syracuse has a good sense they are headed in the right direction. This comes due to a strong close to last season and in spite of a poorly-timed coaching transition. Pitt’s players were seen filming mock interviews with some of the Duke contingency yesterday as well. Those are the kinds of things that make this event worth it every year.