There was a ton of action at the ACC Football Kickoff. Some may see it as the same old stuff year after year, but if you look closely, there are always several storylines creeping into the conversations. Here are five takeaways from the second day of interviews in Greensboro:
1. There is no question which coach was in highest demand. Dabo Swinney was a coveted interview even before his program became a national championship contender. Now the stakes are high, and Swinney is ready to let people know his team is ready and willing to win at the highest level, but he knows they still aren’t there yet.
These environments are perfect for Swinney. He and Tajh Boyd have owned the spotlight for the past two days, and they have both enjoyed every second of it. There’s a reason neither of those gentlemen stopped moving for 48 hours. Personality is part of it, but expectations of greatness factors in as well.
2. The new guys are happy to be here. If I had a nickel for every sweet tea reference thrown at a Pittsburgh or Syracuse representative, I wouldn’t need to work anymore. The reps for both of those schools seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. Pitt coach Paul Chryst even told me he didn’t like those kind of events, but he was excited to be there because of what it represents for his program.
Chryst and new Syracuse coach Scott Shafer were two of the best interviews we had. They were both warm and willing to cut up within a serious conversation about how their respective schools fit into the ACC. You can tell Shafer cares about Syracuse, and Chryst is passionate about his situation as well.
3. Jimbo Fisher is a fast talker. In fact, he is such a fast talker that he’s perfect for this kind of event, when coaches are ushered from station to station mere minutes apart and extended conversation is nearly impossible. I even found myself asking him questions faster than normal just to keep up.
One interesting side note from Fisher’s comments to us was that he feels his staff, in spite of the turnover, is better this year because there is more of a cohesiveness of mindset among the pieces. Also, it was weird how nobody at Florida State would admit Jameis Winston was the starter at quarterback—could it be there’s something we’re missing?
4. Jim Grobe is surprisingly candid. Grobe seems like the kind of coach that might play it close to the vest, revealing very little about the state of his football team. On the contrary, he might have given the best insight of any of the coaches we interviewed.
He mentioned a lack of depth on defense and said it was a legitimate issue he was concerned about heading into preseason camp. He said it would be nice if any of his running backs could stay healthy from game to game. He also said he felt his team could jump up and bite some people this season. Stay tuned to see if he’s right.
5. People in North Carolina drive in an absurd fashion. WARNING: This is entering into personal rant territory. Please proceed with caution.
Seriously, North Carolina? Your roads are significantly better than those of your southern counterparts, yet crossing the border makes me feel bad for going three miles per hour over the speed limit as I whiz past the flow of traffic. It happens every single time—what’s the deal with that?
I thought drivers were supposed to get more reckless as you progressed north, but the Tar Heel State breaks the mold on that front. I cannot explain how frustrating it is to go from comfortably driving just a wee bit over the speed limit to slamming on brakes going 66 in a 65.