This summer’s college football landscape has been riddled with realignment rumors, agent parties, and the absence of a familiar face at media day. For the first time in 34 years Bobby Bowden was not the head coach representing the Florida State Seminoles, just another sign of the changing times in the ACC. NCAA football lines have set the Seminoles as the favorite to win the Atlantic Division at +125 with new head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Though a new head coach is the most notable change at the ACC media day, all of the focus has been on the University of North Carolina and the allegations that some Tar Heels players received improper benefits from agents. Wide receiver Greg Little and defensive tackle Marvin Austin are among players questioned by the NCAA about receiving an agent party thrown in Miami, Florida.
“It is kind of a distraction, but we kind of look at it as we’ve already taken our adversity for the season,” Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates said. “So once we get over this little speed bump, we’ll be able to put it behind us and go forward through the season.”
ACC commissioner John Swofford was an athletic director with the Tar Heels, and spent a quarter of his press conference’s question-and-answer session on the matter. The state of North Carolina requires agents to be registered, and prohibits them from giving gifts before contracts are signed. UNC’s NCAA football point spreads should be affected if players are suspended after being found guilty of receiving benefits.
“I suspect [the problem] has [worsened] some because of the dollars at the next level, in the NFL and the NBA,” Swofford said. “I think it’s also being paid more attention at this given point in time.”
Swofford emphasized the continued education of student-athletes about dealing with temptation from player-agents.
“You have to educate, educate, educate the athletes that are on campus,” he added. “And I think our schools do that.”
In the middle of the turbulent summer was the rumor that the conference would realign. Many conferences absorbed new teams into their ranks, but the ACC stays unchanged heading into pre-season practice.
“There were a lot of conferences that certainly were more active in terms of what was done or potentially being done than we were,” Swofford said. “But rest assured, we were quietly evaluating that landscape and our internal discussions to determine what’s in our best interests moving forward, and what ramifications on the [ACC], if any, might come from expansion by other conferences.”
A positive note coming into the season is the return of two linebackers forced to the sideline for off-field reasons. Boston College’s Mark Herzlich will start for the Eagles after battling a rare form cancer called of Ewing’s Sarcoma, and North Carolina State’s Nate Irving will be on the field for the Wolfpack after recovering from injuries suffered in a car crash.
NCAA football odds have set the Miami Hurricanes as the slight favorite to win the 2010 ACC Championship at +240.