Talking Points: Swofford's ACC investment finally paying off
Posted October 14, 2013
1. Gather around kids and hear the tale of John Swofford. The commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference welcomed Miami and Virginia Tech on July 1, 2004, with the stated goal of importing football strength to compliment Florida State and Clemson. Swofford also saw the big picture and understood the main source of television revenue would come from the gridiron.
And then Swofford waited.
The Hurricanes teased with moments of swagger. The Hokies were models of consistency, but couldn't break through on the national stage. The Seminoles toyed with the idea of being "back." And the Tigers developed their own verb.
Nearly a decade has passed since Swofford set in motion a series of conference power plays and the ACC doesn't have much to show for it. Oh sure, the conference has its championship game, but it's a pared-down version of the spectacle originally planned for Florida. And yes, the ACC is making more money today, but it couldn't maximize its worth and the conference's television deal was eclipsed by others. The ACC is still standing, but it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing.
Finally, after years of fits and starts, a glimmer of hope showed up when the most recent Associated Press Top 25 was released.
Clemson remained ranked No. 3. Florida State moved up No. 5. Miami cracked the top 10. It's the first time the conference has occupied the top 10 with that many teams since Oct. 30, 2005. Throw in Virginia Tech at No. 19 and Swofford is finally getting a return on the expansion investment.
Here's a mental exercise: Where would the ACC be today in terms of television dollars and national respect had Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech all fulfilled their potential post-expansion?
2. Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon, Thad Lewis and T.J. Yates. All played quarterback for Triangle-area based universities in recent years. All played quarterback for their respective NFL teams in Week 6.
N.C. State, North Carolina and Duke have sent plenty of players to the pros. It's a wonder why these schools haven't been consistently better despite having the most important position on the field figured out more often than not. Chalk it up to a combination of overall team depth, coaching and smaller payrolls for assistants.
3. Virginia Tech has won six straight after losing their season opener to Alabama. Even in defeat, their defensive performance against the Tide earned rave reviews. It's the reason why the Hokies will be favored in their remaining contests against Duke, Boston College, Maryland and Virginia.
The Miami Hurricanes will be Virginia Tech's biggest road block to the Coastal Division title on Nov. 10.
The Hokies' defense upped their season sack total to 27 after registering a season-high eight sacks in a 19-9 win over Pittsburgh. Quarterback Logan Thomas won't win any individual awards this season, but he's finally settling into a rhythm and hasn't thrown an interception in three straight games.
4. Duke quarterback Anthony Boone was back in the starting lineup for the first time since fracturing his collarbone against Memphis in the second game of the season. He showed no signs of rust after throwing 259 yards on 31-of-38 passing and connected for three touchdowns.
The Blue Devils are in position to make back-to-back bowls with winnable contests in three out of the next five weeks. They're here thanks in large part of David Cutcliffe's adjustments and Brandon Connette, who was meant for a change-of-pace role, holding down the quarterback position throughout injuries.
5. N.C. State lost an ugly contest to Syracuse. We'll let the Wolfpack's official Twitter account provide a possible explanation as to why things didn't go their way on Saturday.
Players out for State: Smith, Thuney, Tocho, Cato-Bishop, Byrd, Crisp, Mitchell. Not to mention Winkles. Key play-makers on that list.— NC State Football (@PackFootball) October 12, 2013
The situation with cornerback Jack Tocho best exemplifies the kind of season head coach Dave Doeren is dealing with in Raleigh. The freshman stepped up for injured safety Jarvis Byrd in a big way, snagging two interceptions in the first half. Then he suffered a right shoulder injury and remained on the sidelines.
Injuries are not an excuse, but they do provide context and reason to a result. Just look at Syracuse's rushing stats in the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack simply had no answer at the line of scrimmage.
Same applies to the offense, where the line was severely hampered without Robert Crisp and Joe Thuney. Throw in another game without Brandon Mitchell, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada had to get creative with funky formations. Results were mixed.
Mitchell dressed against Syracuse, but Doeren said after the game there was no intention to put him under center against the Orange. The Wolfpack now enter a bye week before heading to Tallahassee to face Florida State. The time in between will be dominated by discussion of Mitchell's recovery and the possibility of throwing him back into the action.