The unofficial start of football season begins today as the SEC hosts its annual media days, which will run today-Thursday in Hoover, Ala. The ACC will begin its annual Football Kickoff on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.
What does all this mean? It means it is talking season and that the real season is just around the corner. For the next couple of weeks all the Power Five Conferences will host their annual meetings with the media as coaches and players will answer just about every question you can think of before practices begin next month.
Unfortunately, there are only so many questions that can be asked at this time of the year, especially considering there are usually just one coach and a couple of players from each school. So there will be a lot of questions we will hear over and over again as the media converges on a player or coach.
The good thing about media days is usually the players and coaches are all in a good mood. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re all undefeated at this point, and they are all anxious to get back on the football field and play the game they all love.
There are always a few crazy things that will happen, too. A crazy answer by a head coach, or a player or two will show off their personalities. So these meetings can be interesting.
So what will be the talking points or things to watch for in the SEC and ACC meetings this week? Well, for one, the SEC will make its case that it is still the best conference in college football, while the ACC will prove it was the best conference in 2016 and can challenge the all-mighty SEC again this year for supremacy.
The ACC has a good argument, too. Since 2014, it has the lead against the SEC in head-to-head matchups with a 19-13 edge. Last year, the league went 10-4 against the SEC, including Clemson’s win over Alabama in the national championship game.
Last year the ACC had nine bowl victories and 11 teams participate in a bowl game. In all Clemson won 14 games, while FSU and Virginia Tech had 10 wins. Louisville and Miami each produced 9-win seasons.
Over in the SEC, Alabama was Alabama, but everyone else in the SEC lost at least four games. The Crimson Tide was the only team in the conference to win at least 10 games.
The ACC has also won two of the last four national championships.
The ACC also has the better depth in coaching overall. Four of the top 13 coaches according to Sporting News reside in the ACC, with Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher ranking No. 3 and No. 4 respectively. Miami’s Mark Richt is No. 9 and Louisville’s Bobby Petrino is No. 13.
Hot-seat talk will also be on the table this week, especially over in the SEC where the conversation will be mostly on Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. His athletic director called him out in the spring and said he had to win more than 8 games or else this coming season.
Also, will anyone step up and challenge Alabama in the SEC? Right now, it is Alabama and 13 dwarfs in a conference the Crimson Tide has owned ever since Urban Meyer left Florida. I remember when the ACC had a similar problem with Florida State back in the 1990s. It’s not a good look for a conference to be controlled by one team.
Though the ACC is showing more depth and strength overall, the conversation will be whether someone else can challenge Clemson and Florida State for supremacy. The Tigers and Seminoles have split the last six ACC Championships and one of the two has played in the conference’s title game every year since 2009.
Louisville teased us for a little while last year, but do the Cardinals have enough to challenge Clemson and Florida State programs that continue to get stronger and stronger. Virginia Tech and Miami both seem to be on the rise, but how far behind are they right now?
Also, expect conversation to come up on the new early signing period rule and other new recruiting rules that go into effect this year. There is also a new redshirt proposal that will allow a player to play up to four games before burning a year of eligibility. Under the current rule, if a player takes one snap during his freshman year he can burn a year of eligibility, unless he or she is granted a medical hardship and has not played 25-percent of the season.
Don’t expect the talk about the ACC Network to end this year, either, not with ESPN struggling. The network getting off the ground was a big topic at the league’s spring meeting in Amelia Island, Fla., in May and it will sure come up again this week in Charlotte as well.
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