One thing I like to do in the off-season is examine the personality of each conference. And one way to do that is by examining what kind of players the conferences are bringing in. This year it jumped out to me that the ACC is on pace to have a tremendous haul at tight end. Tight end is a position that some have speculated is becoming less and less important due to the proliferation of the spread. But for the 2nd year in a row, a record number of tight ends were selected in the NFL draft.
And it's interesting because it didn't happen last season. I wonder why that is then, that the ACC is suddenly grabbing all these tight ends. Why now? Perhaps it is because the ACC has far and away the best group of tight ends on the field this coming season, including All-American George Bryan of NC State, Zac Pionalto of UNC, and ultra-talented Dwayne Allen of Clemson. Are teams selling their success developing to recruits? Perhaps.
It could also be, however, that the ACC has not taken to the spread en masse like many other conferences did in the last half decade. More pro-style offenses means more opportunities for tight ends almost by definition because those offenses use the position more.
So how impressive is this haul? Really impressive. Rivals.com lists 12 tight ends on its "Rivals250 To Watch" list. 6 are likely to play for ACC schools! It all starts with Jay Rome of Valdosta (GA). The 6'6" 240 lb phenom is the son of Clemson great Stan Rome (one of the best athletes in the history of Georgia). Rome is pretty much the consensus #1 tight end prospect this season, and would likely have been the top tight end last year as well. He may humor some other programs with visits, but it would be one of the greatest shocks in the history of recruiting if he went somewhere other than Clemson. The #2 or #3 tight end prospect is Nick O'Leary of West Palm Beach's Dwyer High. He's the grandson of Jack Nicklaus and is a stud at 6'4" 220 lbs. O'Leary is the type of recruit that would not have even considered the 'Noles two or three years ago, but now that FSU has James Coley recruiting in SoFla and not Chuck Amato, the 'Noles and Canes are considered his co-leaders. Eric MacLain is the #4 TE in the country from Fayetteville, NC. MacClain committed to Clemson a few months ago and he was the TE MVP at Tennessee's summer camp as a junior. MacClain is 6'5" 250 and plans to stay at tight end (as opposed to moving to tackle). Speaking of an FSU-Miami battle, Brandon Fulse of Fort Meade, FL is an impressive 6'4" 252 lbs. He likes the Canes and 'Noles, and should will likely end up in the ACC. Finally, North Carolina already landed Eric Ebron of Greensboro, NC. He has an impressive 6'5" frame and checks in at 225 lbs.
Additionally, Duke has a commitment from a likely 3-star tight end by the name of Brendan Downs. Boston College landed a commitment from 3-star Brian Miller, a promising recruit as well.
Jeff Cameron and Ira Schoeffel had a good 20 minutes on a variety of FSU topics. Jeff is too easy on FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe.
Think scheduling doesn't matter? Virginia Tech is the overwhelming favorite to win the Coastal division even though they have the 2nd or 3rd best offense in the division and the 3rd or 4th best defense! Check this out from Heather Dinich:
[UNC is far and away the top ACC defense] I would say Clemson, Miami and Boston College have the most pieces in place to push for second, but aside from North Carolina, which returns a league-high nine starters on defense, Georgia Tech and Miami return the most starters on defense with eight each. Boston College, Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech -- in that order -- led the ACC in scoring defense last year behind Virginia Tech and UNC.
VTech doesn't project to have a better offense than GTech or Miami, and Dinich (and most who study these teams and don't rely on reputation or school name) feels that the Hokie defense is at best 3rd. But VTech is odds-on to win the division. Why? Schedule, of course. VTech doesn't have to face FSU or Clemson, the likely top teams from the other division. Miami and UNC face both while GTech dodges FSU but must travel to Clemson.
Dinich then talks about what FSU and Miami mean to the conference:
As much as many fans don't want to hear it, though, the biggest boost would come from Florida State's and Miami's success. They're marquee, brand-name, historically significant programs with past national titles to prove it. As for how possible expansion would play into that, it would just be an overwhelming loss to lose Florida State or Miami to the SEC.
Perhaps the ACC should cater the schedules to the 'Noles and Canes a bit more.
Bruce Feldman is also one ignoring the problem of scheduling when he says:
My three cents: I think Ponder is a worthy candidate. I expect FSU to be a top-15 team and expect him to have a big season. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he had them in a BCS bowl this winter.
... Perhaps if FSU played something other than a top-5 schedule. If FSU didn't play 6 top-25 teams 8 bowl-bound opponents, I'd be on board with the top-15 rating. Until sportswriters understand the concept of resume instead of purely looking at record, however, I can't buy into that. The hype for this team is getting dangerously out of control.
Inside, more FSU & ACC talk...
I'm always amazed that people take the time to ask questions about college football without knowing anything about the game. For instance:
After last season and the big questions at QB this year I am nervous that WFU may lose what is left of its Orange Bowl momentum and fall out of the top half of the ACC back into the bottom feeders. How do things look at WFU over the next 2-3 years, not just this season?
Really? 12 ACC teams. Did someone freeze this guy in 2007? Wake hasn't been in the "top half" (that would be 6 teams) of the ACC in two years.
From Gainesville we get a look at salary numbers. http://www.gatorsports.com/article/20100518/articles/100519378 UF spends about $6.85 Mil on coaches salaries and FSU spends about $3.84M A lot of that difference, however (about 2.25 M) is Urban Meyer v. Fisher.
I post this with a warning. DO NOT WATCH AT WORK. This is a cartoon video of a fictitious debate between Jimbo Fisher and Randy Shannon. It has heavy cursing and also features a large dose of homophobia and racism by both parties.