The ACC Meetings: More chores than shores
Posted 7:27 p.m. Thursday
Updated 8:44 a.m. Friday
Fernandina Beach, Fla. — I had never covered the ACC Meetings until this week. How did I get there this time? Well, we had been trying to land interviews this offseason with many of the participants.
It was one-stop shopping at Amelia Island, Florida.
Hey, I didn’t pick the location. It’s been at Amelia Island for about 20 straight years. I can see why.
Don’t let my live shots fool you though. I spent way more time in cold, carpeted hotel hallways than I did on the sandy shores of Fernandina Beach. But I’m not complaining one bit.
There weren’t that many media members in attendance which allowed some face-to-face time with the coaches and ACC officials – before, during and after interviews.
We usually just see them for Q&A in pregame or postgame press conferences during their busy seasons. This was different.
We had previously set up an interview with national championship coach Roy Williams. “It will be Monday morning,” was what we were told. I know Coach Williams’ mornings are earlier than mine so I didn’t sleep well the night before wondering if our Monday morning times would jive.
When I arrived at the Ritz Carlton (no way did we stay there) around 9:15 a.m. with WRAL photographer Brad Simmons, one of the first people we bumped into was Roy Williams on his way out for the first of his two walks that day.
We agreed on an 11:00 a.m. rendezvous for the interview. Sure enough at 10:55 a.m. here comes Coach Williams and we set up a little interview area away from the dentist chair music that was playing over the loudspeakers.
Once we finished, Williams spent a few more minutes in casual conversation with me, Brad and Andrew Carter, who is the UNC beat writer for the News & Observer. At one point Coach Williams got in a run of 10 straight blankety-blanks to emphasize his point. I’m not telling what he was talking about though. That is priceless time that I will never take for granted.
On Tuesday my target interviews were Mike Krzyzewski and new NC State coach Kevin Keatts. Seeing the assembly of successful coaches parade in and out of their meeting place was a visual confirmation of how fortunate the ACC is to have such a great group of coaches.
Once their meeting ended, Coach Keatts was first out and we took him outside for a Triangle media roundtable chat.
While this was going on I kept thinking, man, Coach K is going to come out and we’re not going to be there.
“Where did they go?” Krzyzewski asked Brian Morrison, who is the associate commissioner for Media Relations at the ACC.
As soon as we wrapped up our Keatts interview, we dashed inside to find Coach K and Brian heading our way. Krzyzewski didn’t have to do that at all.
Our 15 minute session was very informative and Coach K was in a fantastic mood. Why not? The day before he landed top point guard Trevon Duval.
After the final question I congratulated Coach K on another grandchild. “How many is this,” I asked him? “Ten,” he replied. “Oh, so you can play five on five now,” I said. “Well it’s mostly girls, and if I’m calling the game, they get all the calls,” Krzyzewski fired back.
There were some interesting visuals at the ACC Meetings. One time there were five football coaches lost in the hotel maze of meeting rooms. In that group were Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson and Louisville’s Bobby Petrino. I don’t think Petrino would ask Clawson for directions, and I don’t think the Deacons' head coach would provide them.
You know, that whole playbook situation.
But these ultra-competitive coaches sit for hours in the same meeting room sharing thoughts and concerns.
“It’s a great spirit of cooperation,” Krzyzewski explained. “From the time that I got here as a rookie that’s what Dean (Smith) did and Terry Holland. What’s good for the league?”
And that is the perfect summary of what these meetings are all about.