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The Coaches Speak

Football is getting closer. As the calendar pages turn and the Dead Zone melts away like ice in this July heat, the magical month of September draws closer. Another football season is now a mere five weeks and a wake-up away.

The ACC got the ball rolling on football season with its 2006 ACC Football Kickoff this week at the Ponte Vedra resort outside Jacksonville . One thing that can be said about the ACC: unlike the Big East, which held its annual football media day at Giants Stadium, where the main attractions were Mikey leading the attendees on geese-watching expeditions and searches for the body of Jimmy Hoffa, the ACC doesn’t screw around. They head straight for prime vacation spots. You’ve got to admire that in a conference.

As the assemblage of coaches and media types lounge around the golf course and seafood buffets, they do find a little time to conduct some business. There always are comments by the coaches. Of particular interest are those made by the six closest to my keyboard.

The good old N&O used the ACC’s annual football gathering to run its annual story about the general futility of football in the state of North Carolina , pointing out that the four ACC schools from the Old North State were picked to occupy the bottom four slots in the league standings, two per division. The very same day, last Tuesday, the lead sports story in the Durham paper was something about Coach K. Yep, it’s a real mystery.

The comments from the four NC coaches about the state of things ran the gamut from the confusing to the hilarious. Big John Bunting claimed that the reason the four North Carolina schools had gridiron problems was because Frank Beamer’s staff had stayed together so long at Virginia Tech. Uh, okay, Big John.

The Head Heel then pronounced that because fired Frank assistant Danny Pearman was now on the Carolina staff and was explaining to him how good programs did things Carolina was going to be “really good.” While this seems a lot like an admission by Big John that prior to the arrival of Pearman he had no clue whatsoever how good programs did things we will take Big John at his word. Big John in his algroh-esque weauxfing about being ‘really good’ failed to clarify whether that was in relation to the rest of the ACC or any of his own 1-10 teams.

Duke’s Ted Roof had the assembled media in stitches as he explained that things on Methodist Flats had gone a “little tougher than expected.” No kidding, Ted? Things certainly look to get better with the projected starting quarterback now banished for a season [it’s a good thing Wake alum Bob Lipper doesn’t go to Duke] and numerous starters opting to transfer to I-AA schools rather than endure one more forty -point loss at Duke. Ted again pointed to his upgraded recruiting, which all of the transfers indicate is now at a solid I-AA level, as a sure sign that the Devils will one day get better, provided the rest of the ACC elects to drop to Division II.

Jim Grobe of Wake claimed that the ACC’s North Carolina schools were regarded as a bunch of losers in football because, well, they were a bunch of losers in football. Grobe noted that while his Deacs had most everybody returning from last year, the most of any ACC team, they also had the most returning starters who had lost a bunch of games of anybody in the ACC. How’s that résumé faxing going, Jim?

State’s Chuckie blamed the state’s football problems on too many teams chasing too few high school players, an interesting claim from someone who basically ignores his state’s high schools to chase recruits from Florida . The Man With Two Red Shoes also claimed that regional punching bag East Carolina was responsible, again interesting, considering that the Pirates have one of college football’s most woeful records this millennia and Chuckie’s Pack hung fifty on them the last time they played. Exactly which top recruits is Skippy taking away, Chuckie? The Pack’s Mr. Underachievement also pointed out that the ACC splitting into two divisions was a “very good thing,” mostly since his graduation-depleted team could finish no lower than sixth.

Fresh off his stirring ‘I Have A Plan’ speech explaining away his Incredible Shrinking Recruiting Class, Hoo Head Football Coach, Great NFL Legend and Master Planner algroh denied that his team was rebuilding. “I never use the term ‘rebuilding,’” said algroh, adding, “I prefer to use the term ‘rebuilding.’ Got that, you pro-Beamer media slugs? We’re not rebuilding, we are rebuilding.” That algroh is a real quote machine. [A note to those Hoos hoo claim that I make fun of the grand chessmaster because I ‘hate’ him: I most certainly do not. I really like the great NFL legend and hope he stays in Hooville for a very long time]

algroh also took time out in Florida from griping about those uncooperative Hoo admissions officers [“I sure didn’t have this problem when I was a great NFL legend”] and going over to actually see what Alltel Stadium looks like to sit down with WDBJ’s Mike Stevens and chat about his relationship with son boygroh.

While Frank sent Shane out into the coaching world to gain a wider coaching perspective from Frank’s friends in the business, algroh preferred to keep boygroh close at hand. Perhaps this is because nobody else would hire boygroh, since nobody else ever has. Having Little Craig paying the kid a salary was certainly preferable to having him move back home into the basement. Or maybe, with all of the trouble algroh has with assistants running away, boygroh was one that could at least be counted on to stick around.

As his beady eyes darted around the room looking everywhere except straight at the camera, algroh explained to Stevens and anybody watching Channel 7’s Six O’Clock News that his relationship with boygroh had “a time for being a coach and a time for being a father.” He neglected to explain the delineation of those times. That could explain last year’s Tech score. Maybe rather than preparing a game plan, algroh spent the week teaching boygroh how to drive, or talking to him about girls, or maybe even explaining that every single sportswriter in the Commonwealth was out to get him, all of the bastards, just like they were in New York .

Then there was Frank. While at Ponte Vedra, Frank again demonstrated that if there was a golf course within a hundred-mile radius, he was going to be on it. His playing foursome included Hoo quarterback and male model Christian Olsen. Frank no doubt explained how warm a welcome the new Hoo QB could expect at Lane this year while Olsen demonstrated the proper way to strut down a fashion show runway.

Frank called his having to replace so many starters a “challenge.” Tech will be breaking in a new quarterback, running back [s] and over the half the offensive line. Never one to send the media scurrying to file their stories with new, interesting and baffling quotes, Frank reverted to his tried and true “We have a lot of work to do.” I bet Randy King would like to have a dime and a gift certificate to Beamer’s Restaurant every time he has heard that.

Frank will also have to find somebody else to take over other duties such as giving the finger to opposing fans and stomping on opponents. Of course, finding someone to give digital regards to the opposing fans can take a low priority since the Cousins are no longer on the schedule and likely won’t be for a very long time.

Of Tech’s four road trips this season, only in Miami do the fans show much more than a passing interest in football and that’s only if the Canes are unbeaten, ranked Number 1, the weather is nice, gang warfare outside the Orange Bowl is at a minimum and Florida State or Florida is the opponent. All of those conditions will not be met when Tech plays there.

Given some of Frank’s off-season comments and Dr. Steger’s roster subtractions, it might be safe to assume that stomping on the opponent has been removed from the playbook.

And so the coaches left Ponte Vedra tanned, relaxed and ready to open practice next week. It’s getting close to time for football. What’s the countdown down to, F4E?

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