Random thoughts from the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C. The events ends Tuesday. Then it's on to to the Big 12 media days in Dallas.
• Gene DeFilippo is my hero. When Jeff Jagodzinski played footsie with an NFL team, Boston College’s AD drew a line in the turf. Follow through on the interview, DeFilippo said, and you’re gone. Jags did and DeFilippo canned his coach after two seasons. Longtime defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani got the job.
If more ADs were more assertive and upstanding as DeFilippo maybe we wouldn’t have more academic scandals. (You listening Florida State?)
• C.J. Spiller thinks a lot of himself. The Clemson running back’s impression of his talents kind of match the annual hype surrounding his team. Both are overblown.
“Every year I’ve been at Clemson, I’ve considered myself a Heisman Trophy candidate,” said the tailback who rushed for a career-low 639 yards last season.
To be fair, Spiller is the program’s career all-purpose yardage leader. Some projections have Spiller being the first running back taken in the 2010 draft. Still, until Clemson actually cashes in all this talent it will still be, well, Clemson.
But to be totally fair, is a Heisman candidate in July.
Coach Dabo Swinney begins his first full season with plenty of promise – and hype. The school commissioned a life-size poster of 5-foot-11 Spiller to, you know, get his name out there. SID Tim Bourret had the idea after considering it had 25 years since Clemson’s last life-size poster of Refrigerator Perry.
“It’s so old-school it’s new,” Bourret said. “Nobody does these things anymore. Everybody does internet and e-mail.”
The highest a Tiger has finished in Heisman voting was quarterback Steve Fuller in 1978.
The cost of a limited printing run of 4,700 was offset by two sponsors. The posters are now becoming keepsakes and collectibles. Bourret said more posters could be printed if other sponsors jump on board. That will happen if Spiller gives those sponsors a reason to jump on board.
• You won’t believe Virginia Tech’s secret weapon. He’s 6-foot-3, 287 pounds and throws the ball 85 yards. Tight end Greg Boone is Tech’s “Wild Turkey” in the formation that features a change-of-pace back taking snaps.
Boone came out of high school as the No. 15 quarterback in the nation but was quickly switched to tight end. That might throw off some defenders who don’t believe Boone can be lethal. Last season he played 42 offensive snaps rushing 21 times for 76 yards. We’re waiting, though, for Boone to throw. He says he can chuck it more than 80 yards using only a three-step drop.
Tyrod Taylor and Ju-Ju Clayton are the quarterbacks but Boone insists the fall-off wouldn’t be much if he was forced to play.
“I’m not sure I’d need that much time (to get ready),” Boone said. “Tight end and quarterback basically know the offense.”
The real show is Friday during the walk-through. Boone and teammates stand about 40 yards away and try to hit each letter of HOKIES in the end zone. Ohio State dots the “I”. Boone hits every letter.
“He’s a little freakish quarterback back there,” said teammate Kam Chancellor.
• Bobby Bowden’s NCAA fight is a story outside the FSU lockerroom. Both quarterback Christian Ponder and linebacker Dekoda Watson insisted there is no distraction for the team as the school waits to see if Bowden's 14 career victories are taken away.
“Honestly, we’re not worried about it,” Ponder said. “We know that Coach Bowden is a strong person. He could care less whether those games are forfeited so we could care less … It might hurt to lose the Joe Paterno contest. We already know Coach Bowden is one of the greatest coaches in college football.”
“He’s the sweetest man you’ll ever meet in your life,” said Watson a senior from Aiken, S.C. “I only heard that man cuss five or six times since I’ve been at Florida State. It wasn’t even big cuss words. The ‘d’ word, maybe the ‘h’ word but they say that in the Bible.”
• It’s better that folks stay asleep on Wake. Demon Deacons quarterback Riley Skinner prefers that folks don’t realize that his team has won 28 games and an ACC title in the last three seasons.
“I hope we fly under the radar,” said Skinner, a redshirt senior. “That’s usually when we play our best, when our guys sneak up on people.”
It was argued that after all the recent success maybe Wake Forest has arrived. Wake is picked in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division this season. Sounds like a championship run is imminent.
“It’s been wild, it’s been unbelievable, it’s been amazing to see my redshirt compared to these last three years,” Skinner said. “I’m grateful Coach (Jim) Grobe has stayed. He’s a hot topic whenever a job comes up. Winston-Salem loves Coach Grobe. They’ll fight to the end of the earth for him.”