Bob Holliday

Best quotes of the ACC preseason

Posted August 6

ACC Commissioner John Swofford addresses the media during the 2017 ACC Football Kickoff media event in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, July 13, 2017. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, the

I admit it. I’m a sucker for a good quote. Sound bites and comments that fly through the air at supersonic speed engaging your inner journalist. Pieces of pithy prose that move you out of neutral gear to where you may actually root for the coach or player making the comment, sending that person a message via ESP - "You’re on a roll here - don’t mess this up!"

The preseason in Atlantic Coast Conference football now begins in mid-July. Yet games don’t commence for six long weeks after that. Occasionally some news may emerge from the August practice period - training camp, if you will. But often as not comments made before the hitting begins remain timely until those opening kickoffs on Labor Day weekend. Some quotes may have a shelf life that extends well beyond that.

I have collected a few of my favorites - comments that have enough punch perhaps to help count the days until the real games begin. With 2017 coming on the heels of the single greatest football season in ACC history, many of the best quotes trumpet the sudden supremacy of the league.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
"We're coming off a year that included Clemson's College Football Playoff National Championship; 11 bowl teams, all that finished with winning records, which led all conferences; Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy, and Deshaun Watson finishing second in that voting; nine postseason wins, including another Orange Bowl trophy, setting a league record and tying the national record ever for any conference, and the nation's best record against both non-conference and other Power Five conference opponents."

Boston College Coach Steve Addazio:
"We are in the ACC, the best conference in college football. That's not even debatable anymore. That's backed up by every stat you can look at, by how many of our teams, from our top to our bottom, competing and beating all the teams from the other leagues. Who we play in the Power Five, who we play in non-conference, how many players are drafted in the NFL. I've been in every major conference. Right now this is the best conference in college football."

Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher:
"I coached in the SEC for 13 (years) - I think it's a tremendous conference. I think the Big Ten is a tremendous conference. I think they all are. But I think right now what we've accomplished in the last five years and you're talking about major wins, big wins, national championships, Heisman Trophy winners, coaches, everything that goes involved, I think the ACC is as good a league as there is in football, I really do."

Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson:
"You know, we are in the best division, in the best conference, in all of college football."

Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino:
(Petrino, whose Cardinal team plays in Dave Clawson’s best division in the best conference in all of college football, along with Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, and of course Wake Forest, was asked about plans for Lamar Jackson, hoping to become the first player since Archie Griffin to win the Heisman Trophy in back to back seasons)
"We do have a philosophy at the University of Louisville that we call FTS, which means Feed The Studs. Obviously Lamar is one of our studs."

While July and August provide the ACC a forum for some old-fashioned chest thumping, attention will ultimately shift from competition outside the league to competition within the ACC. Consensus is that battle will be compelling.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
"The conference schedule is not only rigorous -- and in my opinion I think it's the most rigorous it has ever been in this league's history. I think we're deeper than we've ever been. I think we've got more good teams than we've ever had. I think it's tougher to win the Atlantic Coast Conference in football than it has ever been."

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson:
"It's drastically better, and I think it's kind of forced the other programs to come along. I was joking with somebody earlier, I said, when I first came into the league, I'd go into the spring meetings or I'd go to one of these things and you'd look around the room to the coaches, and I'd think, okay, that's one we can win and that's one we can win, and now they're probably looking at me."

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney:
"Well, it ain't real far from the penthouse to the outhouse. We all know that. It's a few plays here and there, and that's really where this league is. But, in particular, if you're going to speak about our division, I have great respect for the coaches and the teams in our division. It is incredibly difficult."

ACC media have predicted Florida State will dethrone Clemson as champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson lost 78% of the offensive production that fueled the Tigers’ run to the national championship. Reporters, of course, asked Swinney about that. He responded in a couple of different ways:

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney:
"It's a very fair question because it's a lot of production, and I think that's the natural thing to do is you just look at a piece of paper and you say, wow, and you don't know these guys. But come mid-season, you're going to know a lot of these guys, and by the end of the season, we're not going to be talking about all those guys that aren't here anymore."

"You recruit. You go recruiting. That's what you do. You don't sit around and pout about it. That's just the nature of college football. I think that's what makes college football so exciting and so much fun. It's different. Guys, there's change every year. It's a new team. You know, when (former Clemson quarterback) Tajh Boyd was gone, it was, how are you going to replace Tajh Boyd. Well, we went and got a guy named Deshaun Watson. He did okay. When Vic Beasley left, oh my God, how are you going to replace Vic Beasley. Well, we got a guy named Clelin Ferrell, he did all right last year. Nobody knew about him this time last year. How are you going to replace Grady Jarrett. Well, we went and got Christian Wilkins. You go recruit, and then you develop your players. And I think that's probably one of the things that we do best is we develop our players, so when guys get their opportunity, they're prepared."

While most expect NC State and Wake Forest to finish somewhere in the middle of the brutally competitive Atlantic Division, both programs believe they are gaining on the front runners.

NC State Coach Dave Doeren:
"Last year I stood here and there was a lot of unanswered questions for me going into fall camp. It's probably the opposite. We've got more depth on both line of scrimmages. We've got more depth at different positions."

Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson:
"When you say, geez, do you get upset that Florida State and Clemson get all the attention, they've earned that attention. They deserve that attention. They've won National Championships, they've won the ACC. Do I envision a day that we can be there? Absolutely."

Dave Clawson’s star player agrees with him.

Wake Forest Tight End Cam Serigne:
"We're more experienced than we've ever been. We have more playmakers than we've ever had, and there's way more excitement around the guys, and I really truly have high expectations and high hopes for our offense this year."

While the Atlantic Division has produced most of the ACC’s national headlines, the Coastal Division has arguably better balance. Certainly one of the deans of the division thinks so.

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson:
"There are no easy games. The other thing that's kind of transitioned, I think the divisions -- when I first came into the league 10 years ago, it was kind of flipped a little bit on the national level. The Coastal had the higher-ranked teams and they were the teams that -- and now for the last couple years it's been the Atlantic. But I think there's good balance in the league if you look at the two divisions head to head. I think it's probably pretty close, the won-lost. In fact, the Coastal may have a little bit of an advantage, and I think there's good teams all up and down through the league."

Duke’s David Cutcliffe joined the ACC in 2008, same as Paul Johnson. Has he ever sounded more pumped and ready to start a season?

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe:
"I don't think anyone is more excited that it's the 2017 season than we are at Duke. We have a squad that has the most depth that we've had."

Duke upset arch-rival North Carolina last fall, effectively ending the Tar Heels’ bid to win the Coastal. UNC has lost most of the offense that drove the Tar Heels to the Sun Bowl. And yet, the Tar Heels see a glass half-full rather than half-empty.

UNC Coach Larry Fedora:
"No matter what the expectations are on the outside, we still expect to compete for a Coastal Division championship."

UNC Defensive Back M.J. Stewart:
"I constantly remind the guys that we are a team that needs to be reckoned with in the ACC, and the guys really take that on, and they work hard and we work hard all summer. And we're going to continue."

Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division in 2016. The Hokies made their mark by coming from behind. Repeatedly.

Virginia Tech Coach Justin Fuente:
"There's some teams out there that are so talented they can not play their best and still win, and sometimes win comfortably. For us, that wasn't the case. We had a very thin margin for error. They were never down, never out. The ACC Championship game, everybody talks about the comeback victories. We were down 17 twice to Notre Dame; we were down 24 at half to Arkansas. But Clemson was poised to blow our doors off, too, about halfway through, whatever that was, the first quarter or whatever, and our guys buckled down and battled and scrapped, and ultimately we had a chance at the end."

Still, the choice to win the Coastal in 2017 is not Virginia Tech, but Miami. The Hurricanes’ rebuilding effort appears to be on, perhaps ahead of schedule.

Miami Coach Mark Richt:
"Yeah, I think year two is certainly a different type of season. Year one, it's not just football. You've got to look at your strength program. You've got to look at your nutrition program. You've got to look at your academics. You've got to look at your recruiting. You've got to look at everything that you do and how you do it and teach everybody how you want things done. The very first practice, you practice the practice without the players. You get the managers and trainers and coaches and you get the clocks running and you get everybody to understand where they've got to be and when they've got to be there. You're ground zero in so many areas year one. Year two, we understand how to do the little things right, and we understand how we want to go about our business, and the players, like I said, 80, 90 percent of them know exactly what we want to do and how we want to do it, so now it's a matter of them perfecting their trade. And so it's a different feel for sure."

To me, one of the most memorable things said during this pre-season, came not from a coach or player, but from the league’s supervisor of officials.

ACC Coordinator of Football Officiating Dennis Hennigan:
"What I tell our officials is when you throw a flag, would you be comfortable calling back the game-winning score in the Conference Championship game with that flag? And if you are, then throw the flag. But if you're not, you'd better keep that flag in your pocket."

But it’s still some weeks before the flags begin to fly. Or per Dennis Hennigan, maybe not fly. For Triangle football fans, here are a few final coach quote tidbits to tide you over until the games begin!

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe:
"I believe in my heart of hearts, this team is the deepest, most talented team we've had at Duke yet. We are young in certain spots. We have concerns in certain little areas. But I think this team will display what we're capable of being at Duke, and we believe we can compete for championships every year."

UNC Coach Larry Fedora:
"We've lost quite a bit of production on the offensive side of the ball, so our defense this year is going to -- especially early on in the year, with having the most experience is going to have to carry us while these young guys on offense grow up a little bit."

NC State Coach Dave Doeren:
"Our focus is on the daily grind, the daily competition, the daily opportunity to get better, and if you realize that opportunity, then your roster is getting better on a daily basis, which makes you a better team when you get to the game. People ask me about our program, the identity of our program is hard, tough, together. That's us. We want to play hard, and we're going to be tough, and we're going to have great love for each other in the room."

We close with a final word from the man in charge.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
"You can't live in the past in college athletics. You move on to the next year."
And for most of us, the start of the next year can’t come soon enough!


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AP Top 25
Sat, Aug 26
4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET11:30 GMT7:30 北京时间4:30 MST6:30 EST
7:00 PT8:00 MT9:00 CT10:00 ET2:00 GMT10:00 北京时间7:00 MST9:00 EST
NFL Preseason
Thursday, Aug. 24
Miami 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:�
Carolina 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:�
Friday, Aug. 25
New England 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:�
Kansas City 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:�
Saturday, Aug. 26
Arizona 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:�
Buffalo 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:�
NY Jets 4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 MST6:00 EST6:00 CT3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:�
NY Giants 
Indianapolis 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:�
Cleveland 4:30 PT5:30 MT6:30 CT7:30 ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 MST6:30 EST6:30 CT3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:�
Tampa Bay 
Oakland 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:�
LA Chargers 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:�
LA Rams 
Houston 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:�
New Orleans 
Green Bay 6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 MST8:00 EST8:00 CT5:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ETNaN:�
Sunday, Aug. 27
Chicago 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Cincinnati 1:30 PT2:30 MT3:30 CT4:30 ET20:30 GMT4:30 1:30 MST3:30 EST3:30 CT0:30 UAE (+1)16:30 ETNaN:�
San Francisco 5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 MST7:00 EST7:00 CT4:00 UAE (+1)20:00 ETNaN:�
Minor League Baseball
International League
Columbus 3:35 PT4:35 MT5:35 CT6:35 ET4:35 MT6:35 ET11:35 GMT7:35 北京时间
Syracuse 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Lehigh Valley 
Louisville 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Gwinnett 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Charlotte 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Buffalo 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Solheim Cup (LPGA)
USA: 16.5 | Europe: 11.5
Singles - Day 3
Hull1 up
LangF (18)
NordqvistF (18)
Matthew1 up
LewisF (18)
Salas1 up
Ewart ShadoffF (18)
Creamer1 up
HallF (18)
IcherF (18)
Kerr2 and 1
ReidF (17)
Kang3 and 1
PedersenF (17)
Sagstrom3 and 2
ErnstF (16)
Piller4 and 2
ParkerF (16)
Masson4 and 2
WieF (16)
Ciganda4 and 3
LincicomeF (15)
View Full Leaderboard
Paul Lawrie (EURO)
Leader in BOLD/CAPS
CARLSSON v Canizares163 and 2
Siem v OTAEGUI172 and 1
View Full Leaderboard
Fiji Intl (EURO)
1J. Norris-14F
2tJ. Janewattananond-10F
2tD. McKenzie-10F
2tJ. Marchesani-10F
5tA. Bland-9F
5tD. Pearce-9F
5tP. Wilson-9F
5tW. Ormsby-9F
9tJ. Felton-8F
9tG. Paddison-8F
View Full Leaderboard
ATP Scoreboard
Tuesday, Aug. 22
Winston-Salem Open (ATP)
Second Round
(11) V. Troicki6 1 2   
C. Berlocq3 6 6   
(15) D. Medvedev6 2 66   
K. Edmund2 6 78   
(1) R. Bautista A6 6    
D. Lajovic4 3    
(12) A. Bedene4 5    
A. Seppi6 7    
(14) B. Coric4 6 6   
D. Young6 4 2   
(6) S. Johnson6 1    
Y. Lu4 0    
(9) G. Simon 
D. Dzumhur 
(17) J. Sousa 
M. Fucsovics 
(7) P. Lorenzi 
T. Monteiro 
(8) F. Verdasco 
H. Zeballos 
(10) Y. Sugita 
T. Fritz 
(3) J. Isner 
A. Kuznetsov 
(13) H. Chung 
A. Rublev 
(2) P. Carreno Bu 
J. Benneteau 
WTA Scoreboard
Tuesday, Aug. 22
Connecticut Open (WTA)
First Round
C. Suarez Nav6 4    
J. Cepelova4 0    
Second Round
T. Babos5 66    
D. Gavrilova7 78    
D. Kasatkina2 5    
E. Mertens6 5    
(1) A. Radwanska 
E. Bouchard 
(8) S. Peng 
M. Lucic-Baro