The ACC recently completed its annual football extravaganza recently. The league’s coaches, a couple of players from each team and numerous members of the various media that cover conference football gathered at Grandover in Greensboro for the usual talk, predictions, golf and assurances from Little Johnny that ACC football isn’t as bad as it often appears. While the names and faces change, as players do have to deal with four years’ of eligibility and 9 of the ACC schools have changed coaches at least once since Virginia Tech entered the league 7 years ago, much remains the same.
Included in the song remains the same category is Virginia Tech being picked to win the conference in football. That happens often, including last year, when the Hokies were an even bigger favorite to win the league’s ‘other’ title, but didn’t. That, and the fact that the media is almost always wrong in their attempts at picking a football champion in July, didn’t seem to deter anybody. That would include Frank Beamer, who seemed to spend all of Monday assuring anybody who would listen that, yes, his team really is that good.
It has become somewhat comical to observe just about every summer the Virginia Tech hype machine again kick into high gear and proclaim that this will indeed be the Year of the Hokie. That Tech never quite lives up to the enormous expectations with which the program drapes itself matters not a whit to most anybody. It’s MNC or bust, by cracky and they ain’t gonna let anything stand in the way of declaring themselves, in July, to be national champion-worthy, including such trivial matters as Tech’s record against legitimate top programs or Paul Johnson’s offense.
Yes, Tech should be pretty good, as the past 17 years worth of results have conditioned people to expect. Who knows, Tech might even win the ACC for the 4th time in 7 years, although the November schedule would seem to indicate a daunting challenge to that goal, since, as always, the Canes are Back. But, one of these years, Tech might want to give Letting the Record Speak for Itself a shot, instead of constantly blaring, in seemingly all sports, how good they are ‘going to be.’
Frank’s attitude will change pretty soon. As he always does, Beamerball will have little else during August other than statements from Frank claiming that the team ‘has a lot of work to do.’ Come the start of the season, Frank will be solemnly informing all listening and reading that he has watched a lot of tape and can discern no difference whatsoever between some directional team and the Saints. And so it goes.
In addition to Frank’s usual declarations of upcoming greatness and Little Johnny’ s annual bleatings of how the ACC’s less-than-stellar BCS record is no indication of how good a BCS conference is the ACC, there was additional humor to be gleaned from this year’s assemblage. That would be the attempts by Butch Davis to ignore that fair-sized elephant that kept chasing him through the Grandover halls and meeting rooms. That is quite the ‘whoops’ in Chapel Hill.
Butch claims to have been quite surprised when NCAA investigators popped into Blue Heaven asking about exactly who paid for the little South Beach soiree attended by Marvin Austin and Greg Little. I guess Butch doesn’t read Twitter. Heading the investigation was none other than former Canes’ AD Paul Dee. It would not exactly be the first time Butch and Phat Paul had discussed alleged NCAA violations on Butch’s watch and would indicate that while the NCAA might appear to be a collection of faceless and humorous clowns, they actually are in possession of an excellent sense of humor.
Butch’s reaction to hearing about the feds showing up was to immediately leave for vacation. Well, I guess that was the best he could do to get out of town on short notice this time, as the numbers of NFL owners desiring their franchises run straight into the ground looks to be small, especially with Pete Carroll having beaten Butch to the punch.
Unlike when he turned up in Cleveland years ago, Butch eventually had to come back and face the music. After declaring that he had no idea as to the identity of ‘Hark the Sound’ because he had never heard it before, Butch immediately went into Sgt. Schultz mode, proclaiming ‘I know nothing’ and besides, the NCAA had instructed the Heels that mum was the word on the whole thing. While we treated to the riotous humor of Nick Saban complaining about agent ethics with a straight face, Butch had nothing to say.
Butch did inform the assembled media multitudes that star linebacker Quan Sturdivant, recently busted on a pot charge, would receive the harsh punishment of being suspended for the first defensive series of any game Carolina might have scheduled for late July before declaring that he would not talk about what everybody wanted to talk about.
While the Tar Loons assured all that any potential reductions to the Carolina defensive depth was merely a flesh wound and that NCAA enforcement goons poking around another of Butch’s programs was nothing to get excited about, the media seemed to take things a bit more seriously. After the good ole N&O had treated us to an entire June and most of July by breaking up the constant basketball stories with claims that the mighty Heels would never lose another football game ever, the tone changed a bit.
The rest of the ACC media paid little attention to Caulton Tudor’s predictions of Heel greatness by picking Carolina 4th in the ACC’s loaded Coastal Division. In fact, Caulton Tudor seemed to be paying little attention to Caulton Tudor’s predictions of Heel greatness as he followed up the vote with a column claiming that the Tech team was the best after all. Oh, well, at least Ol’ Roy will win another Final Four in July.
All of the Grandover hoopla does remind us that games must still be played. Nothing is ever won in Greensboro in late July. The assorted hype might not change, but football season is getting closer.