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Jeff Gravley

Post ACC Kickoff coverage

Posted July 27, 2010

I always enjoy going to the ACC Football Kickoff.  Everyone is jacked about the upcoming season. No team has lost a game. No player thinks their team will finish last in the league. All players believe they will go bowling.

Even this year with so much talk of agents and athletes, it was a good two days in Greensboro. 

On the topic of agents, the overwhelming response from players and coaches was it's an individual decision to accept early gifts from agents or runners.  How do players avoid the temptation? FSU quarterback Christain Ponder said it just comes down to knowing right from wrong.

There is a much larger pool of agents than pro football prospects. “Now all of a sudden there is 6,000 agents registered or plus with the NFL Players Association,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "No rule is going to monitor that. There are guys that are buying two suits and a nice pair of shoes and calling themselves an agent.”

Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe summed it up best. “I would just like to get to the point that the college athlete understands that until you get drafted," Grobe explained. "Those guys can do nothing for you but get you in trouble.”

On the polar opposite side of the ball was the story of NC State's Nate Irving and Boston College's Mark Herzlich. Both star linebackers missed last year for medical reasons. Irving was in a near fatal car accident. Herzlich battled cancer. They were drawn together on Sunday waiting to have their picture make. But the conversation wasn't about sickness or death. Irving and Herzlich shared jokes and quips about the coaches they have played for, including former BC and current NCSU head coach Tom O'Brien. (Neither player would elaborate on the topic to the media.)

Monday morning, I took part in the annual football kickoff golf outing. My teammates included Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe, former FSU quarterback Danny Kanell and EagleBank Bowl president Steve Beck.

We didn't win the tournament but ohhh the stories. Kanell said he grew up a Carolina basketball fan, was briefly recruited by Mike Krzyzewski but couldn't turn down playing for Bobby Bowden at Florida State.

Coach Grobe told many tales of his days as an assistant at the Air Force Academy with head coach Fisher DeBerry.  "Coach DeBerry has a little Yogi Berra in him," Grobe said.

Here's an example. Right before Air Force played Notre Dame in 1984, the players were waiting in the locker room for Coach DeBerry's final words of motivation.

"Guys, we're about to play Notre Dame," DeBerry excitedly said. "I have no doubt in my mind that we can't beat Notre Dame...Now let's go!!"

The players were puzzled. Jim Grobe said the coaches just looked at each other and chuckled.

Air Force beat Notre Dame 21-7.

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  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Aug 3, 7:40 a.m.

    What a great assignment, Jeff; kind of like Christmas Eve with all the anticipation and excitement of what lies ahead. To be able to hear all the stories from the coaches must have been a real treat. These coaches are a big part of the reason the ACC is the best conference on the planet.

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