Written by Gatorsfirst.com & Alex Ryan-Bond
With the college football season rapidly approaching, Gatorsfirst.com is presenting a different take on the 2009 season every day for the entire month of August. We call it our ''Full Month of College Football Previews."
As part of the project, we are having fellow bloggers and other college football personalities from around the SEC and the rest of the nation give us their take on the current state of college football.
This approach will allow us to bring you a much more in-depth look at the 2009 season than we could possibly provide on our own.
The next in this series is the ACC season preview, by Alex Ryan-Bond. Alex runs the Maryland Terrepins website Hell In a Red Shell, so we turned to him for his take on the ACC's outlook for 2009.
Also, check out the interview below for his take on the BCS, regional biases, and the ACC's performance in non-conference games.
Projected Conference Finish
Conference Championship: Virginia Tech over Florida State
Florida State 9-3 (6-2)
NC State 8-4 (5-3)
Clemson 8-4 (5-3)
Wake Forest 7-5 (4-4)
Maryland 7-5 (4-4)
Boston College 2-10 (1-7)
Virginia Tech 8-4(6-2)
Miami 8-4 (5-3)
North Carolina 7-5 (4-4)
Georgia Tech 7-5 (4-4)
Duke 5-7 (3-5)
Virginia 4-8 (3-5)
Top 5 Freshmen/newcomers
1. Desmond Scott, RB, Duke
2. Jacobbi McDaniel, DT, FSU
3. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
4. Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson
5. Travis Hawkins, DB, Maryland
Top 5 Breakout Players
1. Russel Wilson, QB, NC State
2. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Ga. Tech
3. Josh Nesbitt, QB, Ga. Tech
4. Greg Boone, TE, Va. Tech
5. Jacory Harris, QB, Miami
Player of the Year: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Offensive POTY: Russel Wilson, QB, NC State
Defensive POTY: Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech
Overrated POTY: Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
Underrated POTY: Vic Hall, QB, UVA
BCS Championship Game: Nobody from the ACC
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech v. Rutgers
Gator Bowl: Miami v. Texas Tech
Champs Sports Bowl: Clemson v. Iowa
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Florida State v. South Carolina
Gaylord Hotels Bowl: NC State v. Vandy
Emerald Bowl: Wake Forest v. UCLA
Meineke Car Care: North Carolina v. South Fla.
Eagle Bank Bowl: Maryland v. Navy
GMAC Bowl: Ga. Tech v. ???
And now on to the interview:
Gatorsfirst (G1): How did you become a fan of your team?
Alex Ryan-Bond (ARB): Simple geography. Being from Maryland, and one of those few “native D.C.” types that continues to stick around the area, you are expected to be a rabid Maryland basketball fan.
So, we use football season as a great way to kill time until Duke and Carolina come to town in January, and it just kind of comes with the territory that you are also a Terps football fan.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but, hey it’s just the truth.
(G1): Describe the gameday atmosphere.
(ARB): The gameday atmosphere is pretty fun, and everyone kind of converges on the tailgating lots closest to the stadium.
Night games are the most fun, but I think that holds true everywhere.
We have a great student section every year, for all sports, so that is definitely a nice home field edge. It’s not as crazy as it is during basketball season, but it’s still fun.
(G1): Give me some thought on your coaching staff. Are you satisfied? Do you wish your team ran different schemes? How is recruiting?
(ARB): I wouldn’t say that anyone in the ACC is satisfied with their coach (outside of Va. Tech with Beamer, or maybe Johnson or Davis at Ga. Tech and UNC, respectively).
So, as such, I wouldn’t say I’m “satisfied” with Friedgen and Franklin, but I can’t say that I’m too upset, either.
I’m not sure if I wish we ran different schemes, more that I just wish we’d run what we have now with any kind of consistency.
One week, everything clicks. The next week, everything falls to pieces. And nobody (including the coaches) has any idea why that is.
And, as so many people like to point out, that is true of the conference as a whole, leading to everyone having the same 7-5 or 5-7 record range. Recruiting is good, however.
For such a mediocre team, we send a lot of players to the NFL and have a reputation as a pro factory.
(G1): Who is a player we might not know from your team that you are excited about this season? Why?
(ARB): Everyone talks about Chris Turner (and his beautiful golden locks) or Da’Rel Scott being our big tickets. But I think David Meggett, our speedy little quark-esque running back, could have an outstanding year.
We’ve lost quite a bit of experience off our offensive line, which means that to have any kind of running game we’re going to need speed on the exterior, and Meggett is that guy.
(G1): Make one point about your school, and another point about your conference, you think is overlooked on the national level.
(ARB): Everyone in the national media seems to just give Friedgen a reputation as an offensive “guru.”
I frankly haven’t seen it since he’s been around.
People seem to gloss over that point, and just toss the term around and move along without really evaluating the long stretches of anemic production you see from his teams.
A point about the conference that is usually overlooked is the fact that for such a mediocre college football conference with mediocre teams, the ACC produces a staggering amount of NFL talent.
Go back to the NFL draft in the spring; there were a lot of ACC players taken very high (Raji, Johnson, Heyward-Bey), and quite a few second-through-seventh round guys came from the ACC.
What makes this so frustrating for us fans is that we know there is serious talent in the league, but for some reason (cough, coaching, cough) that isn’t translating to exciting on-field college football.
(G1): What do you think about conference title games? Would it be a good idea to add to 12? Would you change something about the ACC?
(ARB): I think conference title games are a necessary progression in the eventual march to a playoff system. I also think that they are a fantastic way to make a conference a ton of money, and they give us all an extra week of excellent college football, so I’m all in favor.
And, because of the money factor, I’m surprised the Pac-10 and Big Ten haven’t gone ahead and added the title game yet. It just seems like a no brainer to me.
I don’t even know where to begin with the list of changes that are needed for the ACC title game.
For one, move it out of Tampa/Jacksonville. God, nobody wants to go there on short notice.
Two, stop playing it in the afternoon on championship Saturday when it isn’t socially acceptable to drink heavily, because that’s the only way you can sit through another Virginia Tech defensive snoozefest game.
Three, play it at a team’s home field, alternating between the two divisions on a yearly basis, or find some tiebreaker to determine who gets home field. That way, you’re guaranteed to get people in the stands, and thus won’t have the camera panning out over 50,000 empty seats. Again.
(G1): How much did you like the bowl system pre-BCS? As a fan, how much do you concentrate on 'National Championships'? Has this changed in the last decade or so?
(ARB): I liked the pre-BCS system. And as a fan of college football, I enjoy the national championship game and the hoopla because it’s the best chance to see truly great football (see: Texas v. USC in ’05).
As a fan of my own team, it really hasn’t changed my own perceptions. The goal is always become bowl eligible, and then look to winning our division/conference.
It’s unreasonable for us to consider competing for a national title, but getting to a guaranteed big money game like the Orange Bowl is not out of the question.
So, I’m not sure how much it has changed my perceptions as a Maryland fan (or an ACC fan), but if it has it’s placed a large monetary award on winning your conference by hook or by crook, especially if you’re one of the lucky ones in a BCS conference.
(G1): What sort of changes, if any should be made to the BCS system? Does this opinion put you in-line or out-of-line with other fans of your team and conference?
(ARB): If we had to keep the BCS system and not go to playoffs, I’d like to change the conference guarantees that have been handed down to all the major conferences.
Instead of having conference champions guaranteed into certain BCS designated bowls, I’m of the opinion that the best 10 BCS rated teams should go to the BCS bowls, period.
If your conference wasn’t up to snuff this year, tough luck. Maybe next year you should win your out-of-conference games, or schedule tougher opponents.
Last year’s Orange Bowl between Cincy and Va. Tech should serve as a good example of why conference guarantees don’t lead to exciting football. I’d guess this makes me relatively unpopular with a large section of ACC fans, but I think if we don’t deserve to make it in, we shouldn’t be there as a conference.
Maybe it would provide A.D.'s with good motivation to better our programs.
(G1): Are the polls a good idea in the first place? Should they play a role in determining a 'National Champion'?
(ARB): Yes? No? I’m not really sure? Maybe? I’m Ron Burgundy?
I honestly don’t have an answer for you here, since our fanbase has never personally tasted the sting of a voter snub. We usually blush and get all quiet that they’d even consider us for the 25th spot.
(G1): How much should non-BCS teams be included in the BCS- and other high payout- bowls? How much do you watch these teams?
(ARB): As I said earlier, I think if they can make it up to snuff with scheduling good out-of-conference teams (and win), then they should make if they are one of the top 10 rated BCS teams.
While I know the current money payout and scheme won’t ever allow that to happen because too many people have too much to lose, the populist in me would love to see that.
But then, I’d also like to see playoffs.
As far as watching those teams, I feel like I get to see a healthy amount of them through their midweek ESPN games, specifically those random Tuesday night games featuring Ball State.
Either there, or that random 2 a.m. Pac10/WAC matchup that is the only thing still on TV Saturday night after getting home from the bar due to the time difference. Hawaii, I’m looking at you.
You can view the original interview here: http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/florida-gators-sports-news/college-football/acc-preview-2009.html