By Gene Galin
Pittsboro, NC – On December 23, I was able to get two of the best sports writers covering the Atlantic Coast Conference to get together on a livestream video that went out over Facebook & YouTube. You can watch the 78-minute video or you can read through the transcript below.
Gene Galin: Why do I have on here? Because personally, I miss talking to these guys. And they’re two of the best sports writers covering ACC, UNC and NC State. Andre does concentrate on Andrew runs the Tar Heel Illustrated global website. Brett write for North State Journal. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, a bunch of publications. He actually writes for whoever wants him to write for. But he puts out some really great stuff. Reason we’re here is that I miss talking to these guys. And they’re probably some of the most knowledgeable people about what’s been going on in the ACC. The purpose of today’s call? This is about that 2020’s been a weird year. So we got a bunch of topics to cover. I’m going to turn this over to guys primarily talk because they are the brains of what’s going on. I just take pictures. I love listening to them talk. So let’s kick off a championship game. This Saturday, Clemson vs Notre Dame rematch. Clemson did a pretty good job, Brett want to start off what was your impressions of the game.
Clemson vs Notre Dame in the ACC Football Championship Game
Brett Friedlander: It went pretty much as expected. I didn’t think it was going to be as big of a blow up. But I did think Clemson was going to win. Because the first matchup in South Bend, you have to remember not only did Trevor Lawrence not play, but James Skolky and Tyler Davis. And there were several starters on the defensive side of the ball that didn’t play for Clemson because either injury or COVID-19 they had their full complement of stars back. And they were by far the better team. And you know, I thought Notre Dame did it by you know, with with smoke and mirrors for most of the season anyway. And as an ACC guy, I was glad to see it happen because, you know, you don’t you don’t want the interloper to come in and the one year that they’re there, you know, Notre Dame wins it. And now they’re gonna say, Oh, look, you know, the ACC Yeah, we we don’t need them. So I went, it went about the way I expected. What about you, AJ?
Andrew Jones: I don’t think Notre Dame did was smoke and mirrors from season and I saw them in Chapel Hill. And that was one of the most professional college teams I’d seen in a while. But let’s face it, I’ve been watching coastal division football for a while. So professional in that division using are two things that go hand in hand. That said, I thought Notre Dame was going to get handled by Clemson because I think that highly of Clemson. And to what you said that the Tigers didn’t have their full complement of guys in November. And you almost wonder if there was a bit of gamesmanship involved with that. Because, you know, if certain guys could cut back super quickly in play, you would wonder that if maybe if you can make the trip to South Bend, maybe you can play and only throw that out there because I know where your allegiances in the in South Carolina, Brett, and I figured you would have an interesting comment about that. Oh, well, we thought it out there. I’m not saying I think that’s what actually happened. But in all seriousness, as far as the Notre Dame ACC factor goes, I agree. If they would have won, the league would have taken a hit nationally. But, if the if the end game is to get Notre Dame in the ACC full time for football, this was the perfect scenario.
Andrew: Win play a pretty interesting schedule. There’s enough teams in the league scattered around the eastern United States that Notre Dame could still spread its footprint around. But guess what, learning losing as an independent, and I’m getting it as efficiently as you know, but but losing an ACC in a championship game and getting Clemson on the schedule twice. That’s that that’s what got them in and I think that Notre Dame, people have realized the last four months that Notre Dame could be in a conference. And every morning when they wake up the sunrises with them, the world really hasn’t changed that much that in that sense, and they could survive and enjoy life actually being associated with a conference. And again,
Brett: I think I think Notre Dame is eventually going to be in the ACC full time in football sooner than later. And a couple of reasons why. First of all, the revenue sharing situation that allowed them to be in the league this year; I think is huge because when their their TV contract with NBC comes back up they’re going to be able to work something out similar to that. But even more important with the new commissioner of the ACC Jim Phillips coming in, he’s coming in as the athletic director at Northwestern but he spent eight years at Notre Dame as an assistant to Kevin White, who is now the the AD at Duke and he also worked at Notre Dame with both Boo Corrigan at NC State and Bubba Cunningham at UNC. I think the moon and the stars are aligning that eventually; and so like I said, sooner than later, and the fact that they got into the playoff, even though they lost. Because of the schedule they played in the ACC, I think it’s going to happen. I think it’s going to happen soon.
Andrew: The TV element is interesting because it’s one that I don’t think a lot of people hashed out a lot. But with the SEC inking a huge deal recently with Disney that’s going to shove the ACC to the side a little bit on ABC, especially prime time opportunities. You know, Carolina played in several prime time ABC games or a few prime time ABC games this year. Those opportunities are going to be fewer and fewer moving down the road. So guess what? How about bring Notre Dame in. They get to keep their contract. And then the NBC will bring on a bunch of other ACC games. So suddenly, Saturday nights and college football or late Saturday afternoons, you could also have the ACC over on NBC. And they have their ABC contract and the ACC go to ESPN and Disney and say, hey, look what you did find that SEC deal. We didn’t know that deal was in place when we signed our deal. So we got to go get some of ours too. We’ll hang out with you guys. But we need to go put our footprint somewhere else too, because they. Remember the SEC had this TBS and ABC deal at the same time as well, ESPN deal. So I think this gives the ACC a little bit more leverage. I think it will allow Notre Dame to keep their deal. But then add to it with the ACC gets on top of it.
Brett: And oh, by the way, Disney will go for that too. Because what you’re doing is you’re going to be adding what? Six games of Notre Dame content when they play in ACC. So you know, everybody wins in that.
Andrew: Yeah, can you imagine? So, okay, you want six Notre Dame games ABC and you still want Clemson? Yeah, pony up boys.
Brett: And by the way, I think that this year playing ten conference games is going to be the gateway to expanding the conference schedule. I would be shocked if they don’t announce that starting either next year, or the year after they go to nine conference games on a regular basis because it’s more inventory.
Gene: What’s gonna happen to the smaller schools that depend on those extra games for revenue? And again, we don’t want to get too much into the weeds but what’s your overall impression? What’s going to happen?
Andrew: In what other walk of life does a highly successful business, is it saddled with the responsibility of taking care of less successful businesses, smaller businesses? We don’t live in that world outside of college sports but every time you ask a coach about it, and I don’t know how many head coaches I’ve covered in the ACC, not just at UNC but Duke and State and Wake Forest and around the league, Clemson FSU, they always say the same thing. Well, you know, they paraphrase, we want to take care of little guys, they need to get those checks. Why is it their responsibility to do that? They want wins, they want easy wins. You know, Kentucky’s four and six going to the Gator Bowl this year, and a lot of people are critical of that. But in a regular year, they would have loaded up with Morehead State a few times, then they’d have a six and six record and it would look a lot better. But we’ll be criticizing them, but they’d be the same damn football team.
Coaches don’t want to lose games. That’s why they want those games and they’re willing to spend $900,000 to get to Georgia Southern or really the FCS schools to get the Wolford to come on in to get a beating. So they can get a W and feel better around the boosters in the spring when on the rubber chicken circuit.
Brett: I don’t know if it’s going to happen, because it’s too logical. But the answer to this is you you play your 12 game schedule with nine conference games. But you allow teams to play like they do in basketball, an exhibition game, but it’s got to be against either an FCS team or a group of five or whatever, but one of those teams that you’re going to pay that guarantee. They get to come in. They get their guarantee. You get to play an exhibition game that gets you ready for the regular season in those 12 tougher games. And you get to use all your players. You get to give guys experience you get to bring in freshmen that don’t you know, you don’t have to use that game against them. You could possibly redshirt them. So, I think that’s the way to go. Whether it actually happens or not. We’ll see.
Andrew: I’m a proponent of 10 conference games. That way you get if you have a rival non conference rival like Clemson and South Carolina, you’d still play that and then go ahead and play Louisiana Monroe. Louisiana Monroe is going to play 35 games a year they’re gonna be everybody’s opponent every week, because you got to get that one so called easy game but no FCS, any game against FCS teams, it’s simply not count. And next year when we return to norm, you have to play the same number of games as other teams are qualified for the CFP.
They need more information to make the best choices for the CFP, especially when they expand this thing to eight because you know, it’s going to eight. And what always what I always laugh about is when people say well Yosh you know, if they just went to eight and 15 Texas A&M will get in. But then the argument is you over eight nine, who’s a ninth team that got that got shafted when he went on sale. You know what college basketball is a beautiful home, right? Because basketball is a beautiful thing, because that preseason coverage schedule gives us a ton of intel. And then we get to see how everybody does in their league.
In college football, we don’t really get that very much. And it’d be good at 10 conference games as big as these leagues are, they’re gonna be playing a lot of good teams, a lot of different teams, everyone’s gonna have to play five true road games a year, some years, they’re gonna have to play six. I think it’s a better way of determining who belongs in that championship. Don’t worry about the little guys anymore. You got to put get the best four teams, the best eight teams in there and goodness knows it’s probably going to grow beyond that. And the only way to fairly do it most accurately do it is to have more intel.
Brett: The reason they won’t do that the reason they won’t go to 10 conference games is because that would then eliminate the possibility of the Chick-Fil-a Classic or the mayo Duke’s Mayo bowl classic. The beginning of the season was made for TV matchups like UNC at Auburn was supposed to have been this year. I think that would kind of legislate those out of existence. So I think nine is probably where it would end up getting capped.
Andrew: But why don’t why do we need those?
Brett: Well, why do we need those?
Andrew: But for the sake of discussion, let’s say at NC State, like Tennessee A few years ago, when this game was Mike Glennon senior year. They played on a Friday night because they can’t play a doubleheader there and they’re stuffing a bunch of games into into Atlanta early in the season. What does NC State benefit more from that or having a home game against a group of five type type team where they get 57,000 people in Carter Finley stadium? Every day. Their boosters are there, they sell all the merchandise, they sell all the gear and assets everybody’s selling beer, they get load up. You know, a late August early September night game, Carter Finley stadium against 70 they’re gonna sell a crapload of beer and make a lot of money. I bet you that’s is more advantageous and financially better off if they have
Brett: Been that that might be a case. But you have to weigh that against the fact that that game is going to be buried on some regional Sports Network or the ACC network, as opposed to being on the mothership on ESPN, where everybody can see it. And if you happen to beat that Tennessee or whoever you’re playing, think about the impact on recruiting.
Andrew: Those games get lost now. I covered the Georgia Carolina game and the Georgia Dome a few years ago starting at 5:30. So the first half of the game was going on when the end of the 3:30 games are taking place. And the second half of the game was going on when some huge you know Oregon, Oklahoma type game was going on ABC so yeah, there’s so many of these games they get lost.
Brett: You’re out on the recruiting trail. Okay, are you going to say we’re gonna get we’re gonna get games on you’re gonna be able to be seen nationwide on ESPN. We’re gonna we’re gonna have you coast to coast on TV. Or you know, we’re gonna have you on this nice little regional network and you know people. Whether it’s true or not kids, they’re gonna be
Unknown Speaker: they’re gonna be on ESPN.
Andrew: Yeah, they’re gonna be on TV Bret and they’re going to be on if they win games are going to be on bigger networks are going to be I
Unknown Speaker: don’t I
Andrew: Having covered recruiting closely in the last six and a half years at THI and really understanding how it works. You have a night game at 6pm start against whoever. Just no FCS and the places wild and tailgating have been going on since one o’clock which happens over there. They have great tailgating and you get to bring in 85 recruits to experience a home atmosphere that’s going to do more for you than being one of 19 games on all these different ESPN and Fox channels.
Brett: That may be the case, but I’m just telling you there is so much money involved that I don’t think you’re gonna see those games go away.
Andrew: Gene. This is your thing. You got to chime in.
Gene: I was going say I’m exactly going. This could go on for a whole hour. So separate you two! But now that look.
Andrew: Gene, you went on a trip with us to to Virginia a couple years ago. That was a short trip, believe me.
Gene: Yeah, I know.
Andrew: Brett and I have driven to the mountains West Virginia in the middle of night. This is what it’s like.
Brett: AJ did we hit anything on that trip to Virginia when Gene was there?
Andrew: That was when the deer beat up my car that one night. That was after a basketball game at UNC. Three o’clock in the morning.
Gene: You can see why I love you guys. I mean, you’re getting to hear the stuff I hear I’m sitting there in the press box getting ready to listen.
But no, we’ve got to move on. Because there’s a bunch of stuff to cover. I got a list here. And again, if we don’t run out of it, this is fine. Because folks, you are not going to hear a whole bunch of this stuff anywhere else. This is all unscripted. I do have a little agenda to kind of keep things moving along because the next thing we’re going to talk about is ACC bowl games.
What I’ve see and let me just run through these real quick before we get into the New Year’s bowl games. But there’s the Cheese-It bowl in Phoenix. That’s Miami vs Oklahoma State. The Miami folks are like, “Hey, this is not a game we should be in. We should be in the boat. December 30. The former Belk bowl game. Now they do do a bowl for folks outside of the South, like, Dukes versus Hellman’s a big argument. That’s Wake Forest versus Wisconsin. That’s a noon time game. And then January 2, you’ve got the Gator Bowl, which is NC State versus Kentucky noontime game on ESPN. Gentlemen who wants to start. I think, okay, Brett, go ahead and start.
Brett: Let AJ do it. I started last time.
Gene: All right. Hey.
Andrew: I was raised in Virginia. I’ve lived most of my life in the south but I’m a Heilman’s guy. So there’s that.
Brett: Not a lot that has Dukes mayonnaise.
Andrew: Miami fans think they belong in the Orange Bowl. Don’t get steamrolled at home. Yeah, I was there for that game and Carolina. Carolina hasn’t whipped a lot of people at the line of scrimmage over the last 20 years and they you know teams with substance and they absolutely whip Miami the line of scrimmage Miami was playing for something the excuse that well they knew they’re going in they work real quickly ACC championship, I don’t know whoever thought they were going to anyway. I you know, after Notre Dame went to Chapel Hill took care of business, it was pretty clear what the acc championship game was going to be in, in Miami still had a lot to play for. You know, they’re they’re trying to ascend the same way UNC is trying to ascend. So every game matters.
You know, Miami has a lot to prove they, you know, last 15 years Miami sort of taken on this perception that, you know, it’s it’s almost like a pretender. It’s totally the totally opposite of what it was from the mid 80s to the early 2000s. And that Miami can’t win the big game, which is pretty amazing. And that was an opportunity for Miami to put the hammer down against a Coastal division foe that is clearly going to be neck and neck with the next few years trying to go for Coastal division supremacy and the Tar Heels just whipped him so Carolina didn’t back into the Orange Bowl. Carolina worked his way they earned its way into the Orange Bowl.
As far as the NC State Gator Bowl I’m thrilled that NC State got that game. I think Dave Dorn deserves more credit for the job that he did this year then he’s getting from a lot of people to win eight games with Bailey hockman at quarterback, the team that I saw on TV when they would have to Blacksburg there was no way on earth that looked like an 8-3 team. They didn’t look like a five wing team that night. And to get eight wins and be the club that finally knocked the Liberty off its perch, which I think was an extremely important win not just for state but for the ACC. I think NC State deserves the Gator Bowl. I just wish they were playing a better opponent so they can they can actually say hey, we beat a pretty good team in a bowl game. The Gator Bowl isn’t what it once was, unfortunately. Brett that’s that you could say that about a lot of bowl games. But I’m glad that state is in that game. That’s an awesome opportunity for them to pick up a knife when and make the last time they were in the Gator Bowl. Wasn’t that when they beat my beat Notre Dame? Nope. throttled down. That’s right, juniors.
Brett: Chubb in a couple of those other guys opted out. That’s right.
Andrew: They opted out well see I forgot that because I covered NC State when they were in the Gator Bowl against Notre Dame and the parade and Philip Rivers and all that great stuff. So maybe I just conveniently forgot the a&m game.
Brett: Well, first of all, the entire bowl system is kind of crazy to begin with, but this year, it’s a total clown show and I use that term because I can’t use what I really want to use here on a family show.
Andrew: So you see where Armando bacot used that word in the day with us. He used the S word.
Brett: But going back to NC State this this even though they’re playing a team of a four and six record for those six losses by Kentucky were the teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time that they played so this is a really important game for NC State in fact I think Kentucky is favored right now um.
NC State really needs to win this game because it’s not going to be a good look if they lose to a team with with a with a losing record. That having been said this kind of sets up for for state just the way the regular season did because if you look at the schedule that the Wolfpack got no Notre Dame no Clemson. You know, the only one of the top four teams that they played I think was was UNC and actually Miami also and they almost beat Miami. But they got the most favorable possible schedule this year and they took advantage of it. So good for them.
So you know for NC State fans saying that the ACC you know has a has a thing against them and they never get any breaks. Well they did this year and you know, like you said good for Doeren good for that entire program. They took advantage of it. So, you know, to win that game and to have nine wins for the third time in the last four years is really a great accomplishment and it sets them up for a, you know, a really good start to next year, when you’ll have basically everybody back including their starting quarterback Devin Leary.
As far as UNC is concerned is the fact that that Chaz Serrett, Michael Carter and deonte Brown are opting out that kind of concerns me. Not necessarily the offensive guys because you know, as long as vontae Williams and Dez Newsome are playing then they’ll still have weapons for Sam Howell. But that that that defense, Chaz is the heart and soul of that thing and I kind of it concerns me that that he’s not playing because they’re gonna have to put up a big number to win that game. And Texas A&M thinks that it should have been in a new year six black denote Texas A&M thinks it should be in the playoff. And you know there are two ways of looking at this either you go in and say you know, why are we into this game we don’t deserve to be here and they go through the motions. But if you look at the way Texas A&M played two years ago in the Gator Bowl against NC State in a game that they thought that they got shafted for the new year six. History says they’re gonna they’re gonna bring their A game and if that happens, Carolina can be in for a long afternoon.
And as far as Wake is concerned, and Charlotte; good for the deacons. They haven’t played a home game since October. I believe it’s what October 24 they haven’t played. They played one game, period since since Halloween. Those kids deserve to play it even though they’re four and four and have only played eight games. Wake Forest deserves that and played close to home where maybe some fans were able to come. That’s a good situation for them and play a Wisconsin team that’s played what six games. They’re also three and three. And I think he’s overrated because they’re in the the big 10 I think Wake’s got a great chance to win that game. And so I like that matchup. But as far as the formation is when you have teams that are two and eight that are playing in bowls, what’s the point?
I mean, why
Andrew: I got you on stage because they didn’t two wins over eight teams. Oh, and that’s that’s something and that’s not
Brett: To play either Clemson or Notre Dame
Andrew: I think they’re still proving that they would certainly have a winning record even if they didn’t have to, even if they did have to play those teams. I think Wait, you and I talked about Clawson couple maybe a week ago.
I love what he’s done there and he’s got a culture and when when a coach is has enough success is around long enough where his program is literally a culture a living breathing culture, that’s a good thing. And culture can carry you through tough times culture can carry you when your best wide receiver ops out. Culture can carry you when your quarterback decides to bolt go somewhere else and then you stick it out there and and there’s some some concerns about how Wake was going to move the ball and all that kind of stuff and and the the Deacons are able to do it. They got a 4-4 season. They were better if you watched wait. They were better than what most people expected. And that’s got Dave Clawson’s fingerprints and DNA all over it. That’s what that program is. You know, think about this. When Jim Crow got hired, Wake Forest was the worst programming major college football from a historical standpoint. Barely done anything.
Brett: But yeah, but Duke at least had the 30s and 40s and 50s. Yeah, but wait, wait, wait, Brian. Brian’s
been that avoided the the winless season.
Andrew: We kept Brian saw. Okay, wait, didn’t have much else. Okay. He had Walker 75 years ago. There wasn’t much there. Jim Grobe was a phenomenal hire and did a great job. Took him to the Orange Bowl. And then what usually would take when a guy like that leaves a place like that. How can they ever find another dude? Like how’s Duke unified someone that makes it competitive, like Cutcliffe, as when Cutcliffe eventually leaves. Well wait did it with Clawson. I think it’s a phenomenal story. And Dave Clawson, I think would win wherever he goes. But you were saying last week where you think this might be a place he stays because it fits him so well.
Brett: Yep. And you know, listen, he’s not going to win the press conference if he goes someplace like Michigan or someplace, you know that that really has a football first kind of attitude. And he’s just doesn’t have that personality that’s going to win over the fan base, even though he would be successful there. So I don’t think he gets you know, he gets the looks that other coaches would get because of that. And by the way, keep this in mind about this year’s Wake team they’re four and four but they had games against both Duke and Florida State cancel so there’s a good chance they’d be 6-4 right now if they were able to play those games.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s one reason why I mentioned when you watch him play you know when you watch them play at four and four that they’re they’re a solid team. I think I saw him against Carolina and they would not go away they had a nice lead Carolina exploded. A lot of teams would wilt in that situation; Wake didn’t because the culture that culture is really amazingly strong foundation in that program.
Gene: Speaking of coaches, let’s take a quick look at the three coaches. We mentioned the Wake Forest coach Dave. It seems like he may have a fit here at Wake like Cutcliff does at Duke.
How about Manny at Miami and Dave Doren at NC State? What do you see? What what’s your what’s your take on how they did this year? And are they long term coaches with the teams they are with? Are they going to succeed? Are they going to move up? Stay where they are, or get kicked out?
Brett: Well, Doeren should have been the ACC Coach of the Year. I mean, Notre Dame you know, Brian Kelly. Yeah, they went undefeated during the regular season. But I mean, give me Ian book, and those that would for first team all ACC offensive lineman, you know, Give me that to start with, and I’m going to win a lot of games.
And so, if you look at Doeren coming off a year where they were four and eight, they lost their last six games, their starting quarterback as a season ending injury. You know, I think that he did a phenomenal job. And it started at the end of last year when he cleaned house with this assistants. He brought in Tim Beck to run the offense. And he got new voices, and he let them do their job. And that’s what a good head coach does. And, you know, listen with a new athletic director there, Dave Doeren needed this kind of season. So I think he’s off the hot seat.
Having said that, if I were Dave Doeron, even though you’ve got a good recruiting class coming in, you’ve got most of your key elements coming back from this season. If something really intriguing, opened up, he’s a Midwestern guy, say Nebraska or someplace like that. Now might not be a bad time to cash in your chips and to start the clock over with somebody else. Just because as Tom O’Brien once said, coaches, you know, most of the time, unless you’re like Mike Ksiewseski, or a Bobby Bowden, you know, your shelf life is eight to 10 years, and Darren’s been there for eight years. I think he has a long term future at NC State. But just in case, keep an eye on to see what he does. Because, you know, you don’t want to overstay your welcome.
As far as Manny Diaz, first couple of years, you know, listen, they had, Andrew talked about culture. And they had a talk, they had a change culture at Miami, because they keep talking about this whole swagger thing. And, you know, that’s something that’s been gone for two decades. You just can’t recreate that you got to create something new, something your own. And I think that Diaz in time, should do that. And bringing in Dier King has definitely helped speed up the process. But I think that he’s not a bad fit at Miami. I think he’s been there before as an assistant. He’s from that area. I think that’s that’s a good fit. But I think that it’s it’s something that takes time, and now they’re in year two. So let’s see how that progresses next year.
Andrew: I think Doeren would have been a worthy ACC coach of the year winner. I would have given a slight edge to Kelly for a couple reasons. It’s hard for any of us to really understand the weight of coaching that program, sitting in that office and, and knowing all of the amazing, great coaches that have been there. And the standard that is their name. Notre Dame hasn’t won a title national title since ’88. But the standard is still there, the pressure is still there. And Brian Kelly has survived at Notre Dame a place that other guys have said after they left that it just drains you takes everything out of you. And he’s thriving now, ten, eleven years in or however long it is. And he had to go into a league where they knew nothing about anybody. I know the places he teams some every year, but this was a different animal. And this was something he had to embrace with his team. And they had to go out. Every time I saw an interview with him. He kept talking about the importance of the ACC. So he sold it. And by the way, when you have the Ian Book and you have some of the studs that they have, who’s responsible for bringing them in? Who’s responsible for coaching him up?
Brett: He’s winless in conference championship games. Rockne never lost a championship game. Lou Holtz never lost a conference championship game. None of them. Right era procedure never lost a championship. Right? So he’s, he’s got that he’s got that blemish on his record.
Andrew: Yeah, well, that’s a Friedlaenderism if there ever was. As far as Manny Diaz goes, you’re right about the culture. It looks like they’re trying to force culture let the force that that swag stuff and I can’t stand it when stuff has to be forced. It’s because it’s not there. And then it’s not worth the effort. It takes too much effort to try and make something that isn’t there. Miami has to become Manny Diaz’s personality and I think it will over time. What is that? in South Florida. It is what makes that area tick. But it’s not going to reject some of the things that people enjoyed on there.
I’ve covered quite a few games down there and it’s a different placement. I mean, there some of us joked a couple years ago there for a Thursday night game. That in my head was rolling it up on the Tar Heels. Right? And it was one of the it was he was it’s not a campus so they only sold beer there’s everyone’s got at least one hammer that when the drinking in and they’re playing all this music after a touchdown and someone joked in the press box saying there should be bubbles falling from the top of Hard Rock Stadium is just a different place. And he’s not going to reject that. I think it’s okay to embrace that. But there has to be some of the same stuff that they wanted from Mark Rick. I think they can get for Manny Diaz but also have the bells and whistles. Over time. I think that will happen. I think you made a great point about Dier King. Getting him to come was big. You got to have a good quarterback to win. They’ve got a good quarterback they know they’re going to be good next year. And it gives him time to go out and find a lot of dudes that see Miami as a viable place to go again and see that they point in the right direction. And in spite of what happened a couple of weeks ago in Carolina was in town, that program is certainly headed in the right direction.
I think he will be there for a while.
Brett: The dumpster fire that is Florida State will help their recruiting too, because a lot of those kids from South Florida are going to stay home now we’re either going to Tallahassee and play you know for Mike Norville, who number one had a terrible season. And number two, even before the year began, his players going on social media complaining about how he really didn’t care about them or he was lying to them. And that’s not a that’s not a good way to start your program.
Andrew: I never thought I’d ever say this but FSU needs to just like, tear it down and start over again. I don’t know if kohrville I don’t know if your belts gonna get done. The stuff that happened in May in June and July was concerning. And it’s very difficult to overcome. And now that the season’s over, and when the kids come back in January and they start doing their offseason training and stuff to some of that stuff resurface. If it does, it’s gonna be a short lifespan for him in Tallahasse, and they’re gonna have to start from scratch wherever they go.
Gene: Yeah, I’ve got them on the list before we move on to some more the suit, the bowl stuff. Why don’t we go ahead and talk about that what’s what’s up with FSU cancellations there, then what are the things that didn’t seem to handle the COVID situation? Well, you guys, you want to start off on just your impressions of what’s going on at FSU.
Andrew: I’ll go first on this. I think that when you go back to the whole Clemson thing, I’m not gonna side with either one there because I don’t there are particulars involved that I don’t know. And the reasoning behind so that we can always speculate, but the thing that kind of concerned me about it was, if you if you read the FSU, the media covers FSU, if you read what their fans were saying on social media and otherwise, which I did for a while just trying to figure out if there was something else, Right? They kept propping up saying, well, it was Clemson’s fault for bringing an infected player down to Tallahassee, and we’ve been doing it right, we haven’t had any positive tests or anything like that. And from that point on, they were a mess with Covid. And it was it they came off as if they weren’t even dealing with it at all. I’m not, that’s not the case, they were obviously dealing with it. But it was a mess. And that was a hit. And that was a PR disaster, in my opinion from FSU. They could not have handled it worse.
And, again, that goes back to I just said a minute ago, there’s a lot of stuff for that program that schools sort through now that the season is over. I don’t know what else they’re going to find. I that’s why I keep thinking that, you know, maybe maybe Norwell could go somewhere else and be a successful coach. Because a lot of people in the business they could he could be a great coach someday. Maybe this is just not the right place at the wrong time. Someone else needs to come in, I can clean that thing up, give it life, give it DNA, I talked about culture at Wake Forest. NC State has a culture with Doeren, that they need to give it culture and go from there. If you don’t have culture. if everybody’s not bought in, it’s not going to move forward. And that’s kind of where FSU is right now.
Brett: You know, the thing about the Clemson situation is it got more credence the following week, when they did the same thing to Virginia. And I just don’t think Florida State wanted to play I don’t think they had any interest in playing at all. You see, the Wake Forest game got called off too. I think this whole situation that the decline of the Seminoles goes all the way back to when Jimbo Fisher was there. He knew he was leaving, he didn’t want to stay. You know, he had some marital problems. He knew he was going and he stopped recruiting. And so for the last two years, he was there. You know, you could see it start to kind of start to get shaky, and then they made an absolutely awful hire. You know, they had in mind who they wanted. They just didn’t go out and do a whole lot of due diligence. And and that didn’t turn out well. And then the whole Norvell situation. He didn’t help things out any this summer. Like I said he had a couple of instances where his players, I think at one point they decided they were going to boycott practice because he they felt like he lied to them about, you know, the protocols for COVID. And in situation, it’s just a it’s just like you said a mess. With the reset button, whether that means write this out and get another coach or basically wait till Norville gets this entire, you know, roster, guys that he recruited in it so that you know that they believe in him and they’ve bought into him. I don’t know what it is. But I don’t think this is a situation that’s going to turn around overnight. I don’t think Florida State is going to be viable again, for at least a couple of seasons. And that’s got to be really, really concerning to the folks down there. Because I know there’s a lot of money they put into that program. And they take it very seriously. And I’m sure that a lot of donors are not going to be happy on and it’s stunning to be honest with you. And you know, we look we saw it with UNC basketball when they made a bad hire. We saw it with Duke basketball when Ksisewski sat out for a year. You know, you and you take it for granted that programs are going to be great. You know, like Pete Gillen once said, “Duke is Duke.” But if you make a bad hire, and you have a couple of bad recruiting classes in a row, then things can go south in a real hurry, and it doesn’t come back overnight.
Andrew: Indiana basketball is another example. They haven’t recovered that much from Mike Davis, they’re still trying to there’s a lot of examples out there that are like that I agree with you about four states could take a while. I think the Jimbo thing is something that’s not talked about enough. But it goes back to the whole flirtation with LSU. When you start sticking your foot out the door, and you’re the heir apparent, to Bobby Bowden, and it’s working. It’s one of the few examples we’ve seen, where a guy replaced a legend and actually was succeeding. But he had a foot kind of dangling out the door and he had some of the other stuff that was going on. You know, all ADs tell you, they’ve got that list of five names in their drawer just in case, you’ve got to wonder if there was even a list in Tallahassee. Because when time came, it was as if they didn’t really know what they were doing. And the precedent has been set. Getting rid of Willie Taggart during these times in the second year, Norville has to go into next year, not on a hot seat, but on a blazing hot seat. If they’re 1-5 and they’re getting steamrolled, the precedent has been set. They’re gonna have to make a change for a lot of reasons. You guys understand what I’m saying?
Brett: Yeah, absolutely. And, hey, that’s the reason Willie Taggart got hired in the first place after one year at Oregon. He was in way over his head, you know,
Andrew: But a lot of a lot of people thought that he was an up and comer when he was at Western Kentucky. Western Kentucky. doesn’t love us. Yeah. But he was in several places where he was building his name. And a lot of people thought this guy’s a genius. He’s going to be the next wave of the head, great head coaches in college football and he was in oversight. Because going back to what I say about Notre Dame, it’s not just coaching football. There’s a whole other module you have to deal with foreign state has it to a smaller degree, but maybe to a more intense degree in some ways. Notre Dame is bigger, but maybe when you’re not doing well, Florida State, maybe the natives in there that the FSU fans are a lot more intense with their disapproval.
Gene: Are you want to add something to that? Are you ready? Move on to the next topic?
Brett: Move on the next one. All right, hey,
Gene: Let’s talk let’s talk about that Orange Bowl, the UNC vs Texas A&M game that’s 8 pm Eastern time. I think. As Brett mentioned, there’s a couple players that are opted out. Some fans going to be disappointed about it. Other folks are going like hey, you know what? Matt crowns getting? What? $300K for getting them to the Orange Bowl? And what are the players getting, besides some tchotchkes from the bowl committees? What’s your sense on? I don’t have the line on who’s the favorite on that one. But let’s have Brett start this time, What’s your feeling about the game and just players opting out and stuff like that?
Brett: Well, I think first of all, let’s go with the opting out. I don’t blame these kids at all. Okay, because you tear an ACL in this game, say Chester at tears his ACL. No, make it Michael Carter, because you know, running backs are devalued anyway, especially in the draft. And he could go from a second round pick to a fifth round pick in a heartbeat. And that’s a lot of money. And, you know, in the NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed like they’re in the NBA. So I don’t blame these kids one iota, especially since this game is basically just an exhibition game. It’s it really is just a made for TV matchup. It’s not like it’s the playoffs. So there’s that.
But as far as the game itself is concerned, given the guys who are going to play, I think everything depends on how Texas A&M approaches this game. If Texas A&M approaches this game with a chip on it, Shoulder because it thinks it should be in the playoff and brings it to a game and wants to make a statement. I think Carolina is in a lot of trouble. If Florida State [Texas A&M] just kind of shows up and says, You know what, we don’t really want to be here and this is just garbage. And then then I think Carolina has got a chance to really, you know, do a Miami on them. Another factor is who plays I mean, listen, you talk about OPT outs, but who tests positive? I mean, who, and how many guys are available for these teams, I think will play a really big role into how this, this game unfolds. But I think this is more about Texas A&M than Carolina, because I think you’re going to get from Carolina what you’re going to get Carolina.
Gene: So you think the winner is going to be?
Brett: Texas A&M. But that is if Texas A&M shows up. If Texas A&M just goes through the motions and Carolina wins it.
Andrew: As far as opt outs go, I’m kind of with Brett on this one I wasn’t a few years ago. But thankfully I continue to evolve as a person and life kind of forces that to happen. I can totally understand why these kids would do that. And one of the things that I think is an interesting comparison is a lot of the fans on our site. They’re not happy with Carter Brown and Chaz for for opting out. A lot of people say, oh, they’re bailing on their team, that kind of thing. But they’re thrilled about the 12 signees that are going to enroll early in January. Ten of whom their schools have spring season still to play. Another one decided had to weigh whether or not he wanted to finish the basketball season with his high school team. And he announced two nights ago that he could go ahead and enroll early. He’s leaving his basketball team. They don’t view that, as quitting on their teammates is bayling on their teammates, but they do win a couple of players that are accurate and decide to do make similar decisions for themselves. I don’t think these kids when you get to a ballgame when there’s no championship at stake. I don’t think they owe anybody anything anymore. They have done their part.
Chaz Sarratt, think about what he’s endured in his career. When in 2017 is his freshman year he was pretty good quarterback for a few games until he started getting beaten senseless. And that team fell apart had all his injuries. And then there were some other things that happened at complicated matters about him playing injured and everything else. And then a year later, everybody remembers that night at Miami. But you know, that was just a perfect storm for disaster to occur. A lot of personal things were going on around that time that affected him as well. And that’s what people remember. He overcame that. I remember when we broke the story that he was switching to linebacker people laugh they told him we were idiots for reporting something like that but believing it. Of course we knew it was true. We had dynamic sources on that. And he turned into an ACC, all ACC linebacker he’s going to be a very high draft pick. He’s going to play in the league for a long time. It’s going to wow everybody that Columbine is gonna make a ton of cash just like his brother will who’s a sensational prospect as well. I think Chaz has given this school plenty. It’s given his fan base plenty. It’s time for him to worry about himself. And I’m not a big fan of this expression because it’s very selfish sounding, but I’m going to use it anyway. Good. Do you think it’s fair and applies it’s time to get his.
Michael Carter score two touchdowns in his first game as a true freshman against Carolina. By the way, option pitches from Chester at. He’s given his body for this 3400 yards he’s a fourth all time leading rusher. It’s time to get his Tommy Brown is the only to top 1000 yard receiver in Carolina history. He has been an amazing compliment to Sam Howell. It’s time to get his. I have no problem with it. I actually think it’s not a terrible thing for UNC. Because if you want to be a championship contender, and that’s the way they say that’s what their stated mission is. You’ve got to be more than just three guys. You’ve got to have dudes by them that are ready to step in and play. Clemson, Bama, Ohio state lose guys all the time. They replace them and they’re still really good. The only reason I bring those schools up because Mack Brown has said most of the times we want to be Clemson we want to be like that.
Okay, well what you got, the guys are going to play in place in them an opportunity to practice as starters for a couple of weeks, and then get 60-70 snaps against the number five team in America, a club from the SEC, they get a jumpstart on next year, which is a season in which this program believes it can contend for the CFP. They’re going to be better positioned to do that with the extra time some of these kids are going to get down on the Orange Bowl and practice time leading up to it. Then, if the Brown, Carter and Saratt didn’t opt out and playing this game, this is actually a good thing long term for you and see in my opinion, and it’s perfectly fine for those kids because they’re all going to get drafted and they’re all going to go on and make money for for themselves and Carolina gets to hang their pictures up on the wall, the Kenan football center for recruits to see that’s going to have a lot longer impact and better more of an impact on the program than them playing in this world. An exhibition game
Brett: And oh by the way javante Williams is a pretty fair little running back and and Dez Newsome you know he and Bo corralis with that they got some pretty good hands. So I think that they’re not the cupboards not bare for this game.
Andrew: Yeah, the offensive lines. They’re huge. The secondaries coming along. There’s a lot of talent in the program. They’re getting more. Carolina football is going this way, guys. And this is a great opportunity to great challenge and I actually think they’re going to handle pretty well. As a guy who covers the team. I spend every day of my life, writing about Carolina football, basketball and recruiting and everything else. I’m excited to see what Eugene desante can do it linebacker alongside Jeremiah gimel. And you know who else is excited? Jeremiah gimel. He cannot wait to see Gina Santee up there with him on the field. And Assadte is going to go into the offseason. As the starter normal, it’s like to prepare as a starter and get all those reps against a bunch of monsters from Texas A&M. It’s only going make him better regardless of how he plays January 2. It’s going to make him better. And that’s going to make Carolina better for the 21 season.
Gene: So who are you picking to win this game?
Andrew: I’m picking Texas A&M. I just I look. This has been a phenomenal close to the season for Carolina. But what I’ve had a lot of people say boy, they don’t even matter that they lost FSU and lost Virginia. Well, Mack will tell you, they lost those games because they were supposed to lose those games. That was part of their process. They are still in a process right now becoming whatever it is, they’re going to become down the road. And you have to have the speed bumps. You have to crank into stuff every once in a while to fully figure it out. And part of their clanking was Tallahassee. Another part was Charlottesville. Another part was what happened for much of the Wake Forest game. But it was also Notre Dame and they gained a little confidence that they could go toe to the club that historically a game like that Carolina would have been steamrolled. And because of those experiences, they were much more ready to go to Miami and take care of business there. Now this is the next step. How do they handle the stage like this, it’s gonna be really interesting to see. If they lose, they’re still going to benefit from it. This program under Mack Brown has proven that when negative stuff happens in the field, they quickly learn from it and they get better from it. So they’re going to win either way. They’re going to be better for the experience. But I don’t think they’re ready to win a game like this even if they have Brown, Carter and Sarrett.
Gene: All right, we got to go to Texas A&M. Then let’s move on to the CFP. There’s two well one plus one there’s two ACC teams in their first game is the Orange Bowl. I’m sorry we did that it’s Notre Dame versus Alabama five m game. Alabama is actually a nine point, 19 point favorite around there against Notre Dame. Brett, what’s your feelings about this game?
Brett: You might as well just play the Alabama Clemson game because that’s what’s coming to I mean. Listen and and the the other two teams in this playoff everybody who has been going crazy about who shouldn’t shouldn’t be in. They’re the Washington generals, it’s going to be Alabama and Clemson.
Andrew: I love that. You said that you use that example before. It’s a great one. I agree with you. All the positives I said about Notre Dame, it’s going to be about race, they’re going to get clobbered and they’re not gonna get clobbered because they’re not gonna get clobbered because of anything disrespectful toward Notre Dame, Alabama is just that good. Alabama’s defense at two tough games. So when the offense didn’t bother score, 50s and 60s, when the game Alabama will do whatever they have to do to win. It’s gonna be Alabama and Clemson moved to especially now that Clemson has worked through everything. They kind of get their little Mojo going. I think it helps Clemson that there’s not a lot time in between the ACC championship and the Ohio State game. They’re better off kind of getting back into it a couple weeks later. And you know, Ohio State, I guess they deserve to be there. The whole point is getting the top four teams, but I do think that there is a difference between Alabama, Clemson and then everybody else and we’re going to see it in the semi finals. Clemson will win by a couple touchdowns. Alabama is going to win by three or four touchdowns.
Gene : Yeah, we’re not going to get into whether Ohio State belongs there. That’s that’s a non ACC topic. We’re going to keep this ACC but we can. We’re going to we can climb into Clemson vs Ohio State. Actually Clemson right now seven point favorite that game supposed to start at 8:45 after the Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Now we all know that the Rose Bowl has been played outside of California and some other ACC school ACC school. We’ll let the folks Google and figure out where that happened. But, Brett, what’s your feelings on that that Clemson, Clemson Ohio State game and then the final? I know you’ve already said it’s Alabama versus Clemson. But how about Clemson against Ohio State?
Brett: I think Trevor Lawrence is going to put on a show and I think they’re going to put up a huge number and defensively they’re just. When everybody’s there, they are so good. And they are so aggressive and just look at the the duress they put fields under last year during the playoff. I just I just think and I think this is probably a better Clemson team. I justdon’t see this being a much of a matchup at all.
And by the way, you don’t see anybody for any of these four teams opting out, do you? And the reason is, is because now there’s something to play for, for these four teams. You know, the rest of the bowls basically are just product for ESPN. They’re really inconsequential. But these games do mean something there’s a championship on the line here. And all the players I mean, because Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first player taken in the draft, he could very easily said, you know, I’ve had enough I’m gonna go prepare for the draft. But they’re not doing that because these games mean something.
Andrew: Ohio State’s played six games, and the two best teams they played are Indiana and Northwestern Indiana is actually pretty good, but it’s not Clemson. Field struggled, same,
Brett: They haven’t got a field of speed, they’re going to see from Clemson,
Andrew: They needed a 331 yard rushing game to take care of Northwestern. And I just think that Clemson is going to just swallow them whole Clemson isn’t going to beat them by as much as Bama will be better name because I think Ohio State’s better than Notre Dame, they have more athletes that can handle some of that speed stuff. But I don’t think either game is going to be very competitive. That maybe comes to pulls away a little bit later. Maybe Ohio State hangs around a little bit. And of course, you know last year Ohio State got up to that lead and Clemson just kind of fought back they found themselves. But I agree with Brett I think Trevor Lawrence is gonna be amazing. I don’t know if he’s gonna win the Heisman or not, he may end up being Peyton Manning, or he doesn’t win the Heisman, but goes on has just a ridiculous career. But I think sometimes the heisman and others you didn’t ask about the Heisman, but sometimes you should take into consideration what a guy has done during the course of his career. And that’s why if I had Heisman vote, I would vote for Trevor and Plus, he’s just been awesome. We’ve been on the field.
Brett: One of the reasons I think Trevor Lawrence is gonna win the Heisman is because Alabama’s got multiple candidates. Yeah, that’s true. That that’s going to split the vote. I think Lawrence is going to win. I think he deserved it.
Last weekend, if he does last weekend, pushed him over the top, I think.
Gene: I was gonna I was gonna I was gonna touch on that because Trevor Carter was again, the ACC Player of the Year, quarterback of the first team. And then you’ve got a discussion that comes up about, you know, who’s up there for the Heisman, and I would think he’s one of the top choices, but it sounds like you feel like yes, we perform, but we could see why he wouldn’t get it and it really doesn’t matter because he’s going to be the first round draft pick. So, anything else to add on?
Andrew: He’s as much of an IT guy I’ve seen in college in a long time. Maybe they’re
Brett: My favorite thing is this nickname. They call him the giraffe because when he starts running, he’s really tall but he’s got long legs and a long torso and he looks like a giraffe when he’s out there running.
Andrew: He’s upright runner. He’s a bit of an upright runner, and he’s tall along and all that stuff. And then he got the hair flat him and he’s unmistakable. Yep.
Gene: I remember seeing him play against NC State down at Clemson and he was a freshman. Like yeah, I’ve seen freshmen be, you know, talked up again. But I was impressed with his speed.
ACC teams that opted out of Bowls
How about the three teams, ACC teams that opted out of bowls? You got Virginia, Boston College, Pitt? It any thoughts about that?
Brett: Same as the three guys that did for Carolina that opted out, you’re playing in games that really does it does, you know, good to play, there’s really no positives other than to get 15 extra practices and get on TV and everything. But these games, especially now with all the hoops you have to jump through for travel, it’s going to cost teams to to go and you’re not getting the full bowl experience.
You know, usually in regular you know, circumstances you go a week before the game like I’ll give you the example The Dukes Mayo bowl game in Charlotte. They take them to the racetrack and they do a ride along. They take him to the kids hospital, they let them go to the Belk store and and do a shopping spree. You get all these things. But now you’re going to go the day before a game. You’re going to play. You’re going to come right home. It’s gonna be like a regular road game. What’s the point? I don’t have any problem with with teams opting out.
Andrew: I think there are too many bowls. Anyway, I’m a big fan of going back to about 18 when you know I kind of chuckle sometimes when coaches have six and six teams talking about the reward. And we were talking about Kentucky earlier, 4-6. I mean, you know if you’re putting your beat Murray State, Morehead State and Indiana State your non conference going to do and you get to six and six. How is that a reward? However, I think the reward element to try to understand that is the kids are put in a lot and These guys work 48 weeks out of the year in their sport. A lot of folks don’t really know what goes into the off-season, but it is intense. And all those volunteer workouts, you know, keep track of that stuff, it’s not really volunteer. So the reward is they get a chance to go somewhere, relax, play a game that you want to win, some teams are more into it than others. But the reward is the experience nobody has having experienced this year, right Carolina is going down the two days before, Mack said, and there’s gonna be nothing to do, except go down, practice, get a little acclimated again to just be in down there. And you don’t want to have to get up the next day and play Texas A&M. You know, after being one night in hotels, he spent two nights in a hotel, whatever.
I think as far as the schools that opted out, they’ve been through a tough year. It’s been a long year, these kids started recording in June. Usually, they have their otas stuff, and then they go home for a while then they report at the end of July. They reported in June, and they’ve had they’ve been in a bubble in a sense, they have not been able to do much they’ve had no social life whatsoever. Their academics have been online and their interaction has been just together, which is one of the things that Coach K talked about when so the reasons why he decided let’s let these guys go home for a while. They got to be human beings. And so I think in those cases of Pitt, BC and Virginia, they had enough they don’t need the extra practices because they played it in the middle of December anyways, they already had a ton of practices. These guys were preparing for game spending week preparing for games to get pulled out at the last minute cancel or postpone at the last minute so they’ve done enough. I think their award in the celebration should be they finished the season the ACC did an amazing job finishing the season. The league should be commended for it. Everybody involved the coaches the staff players should all be committed for finishing the season. And you know what their reward is come home be with your family. Go home at Christmas.
Brett: I percent i think the decision to play or not play depends on your situation. I think it changes with different schools. If you’re NC State, you definitely want to play another game and give yourself an exclamation point. And like you said a reward for a really good season. If your Wake Forest you want to get another game because you’ve been working so long and you only got eight games you haven’t played like I said but once since Halloween. But if you’re a Boston College or Virginia and you’ve played it out and you’ve got injuries and you haven’t really had that greatest season and they’re going to send you to Shreveport or wherever. So I think it all depends on who you are and where you’re going. And and you make your own decision.
Andrew: And if we would have been asked this question a couple weeks ago okay three ACC teams are going to call are going to opt out a bowl games that are having decent years at least bowl worthy in 2020. Who might be a be. I bet you we were to come up into three. Virginia Tech as well. You said they were going to have losing records.
Gene: I was going to say I’m sorry, I froze up. We’re getting close to the we’re at the hour. If you want we can end it here because we got lots of good information. Or there’s a couple other things I want to talk about. Hotseat. ACC as a league; like how they handle the COVID situation? Which ACC teams handle the best and worst? Maybe touch on the new ACC commissioner. And then the three of us individually have talked about just this weird season from from some somebody who covers the sport so you want to go another 10, 15 minutes to wrap it up.
Brett: But we could do a lightning round where we just kind of give our scattered thoughts with about all those subjects and then kind of talk about your last thing at the end
Andrew: It’s December 23 and I have to do a little bit shopping. I’ll stick around for another hour. Looking for our look now. I don’t you guys don’t want to look at me.
ACC football coaches on the hot seat
Gene: Okay, we’ll do a lightning round.
ACC coaches on the hot seat. We mentioned FSU already. I got just Fuentes at Virginia Tech. Dino Barbers at Syracuse. Jeff down at Georgia Tech. David Cutcliffe at Duke and then Scott down in Louisville.
Lightning round. Start, Brett.
Brett: Scott and Collins have been there only one or two seasons. So I think they’re safe. Especially Collins who had to just totally rebuild that entire program from scratch. As far as Fuentes is concerned, they pass the hat around couldn’t come up with enough money to buy him out. So I think he starts next season on the hot seat. I would not be shocked if Dave Cutcliffe retires. I don’t think he’s going to get fired because he’s done too much for that program. To be honest with you. I think everybody who’s currently a coach in the ACC is back next year.
Andrew: So clarify your Cutcliffe thing. We chatted about this a little bit last week. What What is your timeline for that?
Brett: I think he’s going to retire. I don’t know. Whether it’s this year or after next year. I just don’t feel like he had his heart in it this year. It just didn’t seem like it. Maybe it’s because of the unique circumstances, but I don’t think he’s getting fired. I don’t think Kevin White fires him because Kevin White there’s a different culture. We’ve used that a lot of times today at Duke and I think that he’s done way too much for that program to get cast aside.
Andrew: I’m surprised Baber still has his job because it looked like that thing just kind of derailed and reached a point where it was irreparable. Especially with a new AD there. Maybe the AD is going to cut him some slack because of the challenges with COVID and I think that’s going to happen; that’s happening some coaches.
Brett: And also cannot afford his buyout either.
Andrew: They may not be able to afford his buyout I mean, they just spent a crapload of money renovating the Carrier Dome, which I can’t wait to go up there again. Because every time I got there before I almost got injured trying to go in and out because of the suction of that place because it was the dome was an air thing is. Just bizarre. Hated it. Anyway.
Gene: Lightning round. Next on the lighting round.
Andrew: Maybe let me finish that just real real fast. All right. 20 in the money I’m surprised that Virginia, Virginia Tech doesn’t have the money to buy him out. That’s something that’s not working. Hand and Hooker entering the transfer portal. That’s something that’s definitely not working. Their recruiting is falling off a cliff. I’m just surprised they’re sticking with that. It just kind of makes you wonder what Virginia Tech football’s going to be like moving forward without Frank Beamer. And the further it gets away from Beamer loses whatever luster it once had. That lunch pail means less now than it did five years ago.
Gene: How did the ACC as league handle the COVID situation? I know that at the beginning of the season, there was a question if there would even be a season. Some of the conferences says no, we’re not gonna do anything. The conferences are saying, Hey, we’re gonna wait to the springtime. And then the ACC basically seemed to have taken the ball and said, we’re going to make this work. We know there’s going to be bumps, we’re going to make adjustments and that they make it work. What were the pros and cons? What were the best and worse of how the ACC as a league handled the COVID situation?
Brett: I went first last time. AJ, go ahead.
Andrew: Well, I think I would ask the people in the big 10, the PAC 12 how they think the ACC handled it. I bet you every one of them would say Damn well, really good job. Outstanding, Mr. Swofford. And you now deserve to walk away a little bit sooner because you’ve got the league to the finish line. Highest percentage of games played. You had a championship game that everybody cared about and watched. ACC football mattered a lot in November and mattered a lot in December. And now you got to, whether they’re a one year club or not, they’re still in the league. You got two teams in the playoffs.
I think it was an outstanding year for the ACC and one of its bigger games didn’t involve Notre Dame or Clemson. That Miami Carolina game was a big deal. Herbstreet and Fowler were there and Carolina’s performance generated a ton of national attention for the league. And it had nothing to do with Trevor Lawrence in booking their teammates. So I think a great year for the ACC all things considered. And even with the FSU issues. So A+ for John Swofford and the ACC.
Brett: I agree 100% and I can tell you this, the benefit for the ACC is going to be beyond this year. The ACC helped its brand and its future immensely because of the respect that it and the attention that it drew this year. And you can say what you want about John Swofford, but John Swofford, his legacy will be forever. He’s the man who saved college football in 2020. Because if he would have gone along with the crowd because the Big 10 and the PAC 12 pulled the plug way too early. Swofford said we’ll just wait on this. Let’s just see what happens. And he figured out how to get this thing done. He convinced his presidents to do it. The SEC followed suit and then the PAC 12 and the and the big 10. They scrambled to get on board too. Without John Swofford and without the ACC, there would have been no college football this season.
Andrew: And let me add to that real quickly. By jumping out front; I know the Big 12 made the similar decision around the same time, But the ACC, Swofford is leading the way. He was kind of out front more so. He said we care about football. Football matters here. We’re having a football season in the ACC. The Big 10, with all of its history and tradition in Chicago, you way back in 2008, all that kind of stuff. They’re not going to play. We are. You guys think we’re a basketball conference? No, we’re playing football this year. And I think that’s part of changing image of the ACC and I think it worked.
Gene: Yeah, actually that worked. I would agree with both your assessments. I think you briefly mentioned the FSU kind of falling apart with the whole thing, but of all the ACC teams which teams did you think handled it? Individual teams handled it the COVID situation best and which handled it worse?
Brett: I’m going to say NC State because and maybe it’s because I was closer to the program and I covered most of their games. They had a outbreak just before the start of the regular season. They got their first game supposed to be at Virginia Tech. They got it postponed and moved a couple weeks later. But once they started playing, they played 11 games without interruption and with most of their players able to play. Dave Doeren and his staff did an amazing job of keeping those guys isolated, keeping them out of harm’s way and they got rewarded with an eight win season. I thought they did the best job. As far as the worst job? Hands down, it’s Florida State.
Andrew: Yeah, I agree with you on both, I think along with NC State, the school they hate the most did also did an excellent job. Carolina had a lot of positive tests in July throughout the athletic department. And they’ve learned from it and there have been football program has not reported any positive since. And the two games that were shifted. Charlotte canceled nearly the last minute and Carolina found a replacement and they had to move the Miami and Western Carolina games around because of other schools, because of other scheduling. So Carolina, NC State did a really good job. Kudos to both schools for completing their seasons and not being responsible for any schedule issues. Epic few. FSU. Absolutely.
Gene: All right, so FSU. And both State and Carolina did well, getting down to the last two items here on the lightning round.
Brett had mentioned John Swofford. We could do a whole show on this assessment of John Swofford, as ACC commissioner and thoughts on Jim Phillips coming in as a new commissioner after John retires this year.
Brett: I don’t think the people at NC State and Clemson are gonna like this, but John Swofford presided over the ACC over an incredibly tumultuous time. He saved the ACC by firing a preemptive shot and raiding the Big East before the Big East could raid the ACC. He got them to sign the grant of rights that kept the league together when everybody else was poaching teams. Listen, there’s a lot of things you can you can you can gig him on, but he had the ACC his best interest in mind. And the ACC is a much stronger league and is still a viable league because of John Swofford.
I don’t know enough about Jim Phillips to make a judgement about him. But I can tell you that everything I’ve heard, all the comments from all the people who have worked with him and there are a lot of them in the ACC say that this is a guy who’s got his act together. He’s a young guy. He’s got great ties throughout college sports. We’ll have to see. But he’s got a big job ahead of him because he’s got some big shoes to fill.
Andrew: John Swofford speaks softly. And if you upon being in his presence, you might not think this guy is an ass kicker. But he really is. You know, it’s interesting that Mack Brown was asked a question the other day about. Well, I asked him one as well. But he’s asked a question the other day about his last two Carolina teams were top 10 teams, but they didn’t get to play in the Orange Bowl. The scenarios, the way things were structured and made it really challenging for anybody other than the ACC champion to play in a big bowl game back then. Now look at it. They’re eight and three with losses to Florida State and Virginia and they’re going to the Orange Bowl. That happened because of John Swofford’s leadership.
John Swofford just became the commissioner back in ’97. And look how far the league has come look at the way it’s changed. It’s changed for the better, because anybody that’s honest with themselves would have to agree that the Holly farm sale with the pilot ACC could not survive in today’s landscape. It was great when it happened. Factor Packer was phenomenal. But everything would have had to change to survive. And I agree with you 100%, Brett. You pointed out all the reasons why john Swofford spend an amazing job. He gets a beating from some people but you know what every school in this league that was in the league in the 80s and 90s is healthier now because John Swofford.
As for Jim Phillips. His colleagues, his peers, voted him that I don’t know what the ad honor ad award is. I can’t remember what the name of it is. A couple years ago he was named the top AD in the country. You don’t get that at Northwestern. Unless you’re doing something right. Unless people have immense respect for you because it’s not like Northwestern is popping out there in front of people all the time. But you know, under his watch Northwestern basketball went to the NCAA tournament and Northwestern football. He’s kept Pat Fitzgerald. They’ve been competitive most of the time pretty good some years and there are other sports have been pretty solid. Any has mentions that he does in the past. I think based on what I know it’s a pretty good hire. Time will tell. But he’s got big shoes to fill. John Swofford’s done an incredible job.
Gene: Well, I think we can definitely take away from that based on what Andrew Jones says is John Swofford is a big time ass kicker. Anyway with our own personal experience again. These are the guys for the sports writers. I’m just a photographer, I miss being out there on the sidelines taking pictures. I love listening to these guys talk in the press box, because a lot of the information that they talk will make me a better photographer, because I know what to watch for when after I talk with them.
Brett, what’s what’s your feelings weirdness wise about 2020. And then we’ll finish up with Andrew and then I want you guys to give us plugs as to your Twitter accounts and where folks can follow you to get more information not just on the teams you concentrate on but ACC. Brett, Go.
Brett: The weirdness is having them point that little thermometer at your forehead and take your temperature before you get to go into a press box. And trying to teach an old dog new tricks like me on how to use Zoom. That was a lot of fun. The thing I miss the most is the interaction. You know, I don’t get to say AJ when was the last time we’ve seen each other in person.
Andrew: Maybe once. We did one football game was an NC State vs Carolina game. Probably.
Brett: It’s crazy. I miss seeing you guys. I missed the banter before games. I missed the interaction. I missed actually being able to talk one on one with players because now you can’t do it. Now you can’t do a story, which you’re getting an exclusive and you’re you’re asking specific questions, because you got to do it in Zoom with everybody else. You know, piggybacking on. I’ll be glad when this is all over with and we can get back to some semblance of normal. And you don’t have to do this and look like you’re getting ready to rob the place when you go to a game.
Andrew: You know, I’ll tell you the other day I was in Cleveland for the CBS Sports classic. Yeah, boy. It was so windy and cold and nasty. It’s kind of a cool place but I’m working on the same night thinking how why would anybody live here? Why would somebody choose to anchor down here. Anyway. Different topic for a different day. So I’m in Cleveland for the CBS Sports classic and, and the only cool thing that’s happened as a fall from COVID from from professional perspective was during the Carolina Kentucky game. The only people in the building. This is a 20,000 seat building with the Cavaliers play. Okay, you got team personnel, coaches, trainers, that kind of thing. This game of Central people, statisticians, CBS people, and like 10 members of the media credentials and then like 15 security people in the building. That was it. And there was no fake crowd noise and I’m hearing Lance Where gets taken out of the game or I could pick it up. Or Kentucky and Calipari just lights into them. And I thought to myself, you know, I’ve always wanted to go to a secret scrimmage. There’s things they have in October. Now I’m at one. The entire season is as much as secret scrimmages. It’s crazy. So that’s the only kind of neat thing everything else and kind of sucks. We’re all in the same boat we’ve had to grind to to get our content going.
Brett brought up a great point about the one on one interviews in the face to face. I love building rapport with kids. I like following from their freshman to their senior years and seeing how they change up close. And it’s a way to get information and I traveled covering UNC. And there used to be a lot more value on the road, especially in basketball because a locker room opens up after the game and you just get a lot of information. It’s a little more difficult to feel connected to what you’re covering now than before. But you know what, we’re managing we’re getting through. But I can’t wait for this stuff to end. But you know, I get up every day. No one I have to grind that day to get work. There are no days off. People don’t understand I’ve taken three days off in the last two and a half years. I’ve worked all the rest of the days. It’s just the way it is. And now it’s even more so because you have to get really creative and we’re all dealing with the same bucket of intel, the same bucket of quotes, the same bucket of videos, we’re all got the same stuff. So you have to get really, really creative to get your work done. And I guess maybe it’ll make us better, in time. We’ll see that in time. But I can’t wait for this to end. I just want to be around the kids. I want to be around the coaches to kind of feel like I’m more connected. So I feel like I’m doing a better job. I’m not parroting what a lot of other people are doing out there.
Gene: Alright, why don’t you give us a quick plug. You’re with Tar Heel Illustrated give us the website, give us your Twitter account. You’ve also got a fantastic Facebook. Well, you’re on Facebook, but you also have a fantastic YouTube channel where there’s a bunch of video interviews. So, go ahead and tell people where they can hear more of the stuff that they got a flavor of today.
Andrew: Well TarheelIllustrated.com It’s the rivals.com network which is part of Yahoo Sports. We focus on UNC football, basketball and recruiting we cover it heavily. It’s a subscription site, but a lot of our stuff is free. But if you really want to get the nitty gritty and you want to interact with me on a regular basis you’re going to have to pay a little bit because we got to able to support the site. And like I said, we travel everywhere. Our Twitter handle is @heelillustrated, not heels, but @heelillustrated. Everything we do, we post there in our YouTube channel TarHeelIllustated. We do a ton of videos. I do stand up interviewing for “three things” videos after every game; football, basketball. We do a ton of stuff during the week. We talked to a lot of recruits and Dina King is our football recruiting person. She’s sensational. David Sisk is a former AAU coach, longtime high school coach, college coach. He’s our basketball recruiting guy. He is super plugged in. He breaks down film reviews for most of Carolina’s game. So we have a ton of stuff going on our site. Like I said, every day I wake up, it’s like that’s the biggest day of the year because we’ve got so much going on.
Brett: North State Journal, it’s nsjonline.com. We cover all the teams in North Carolina, not just the ACC. We do coverage of East Carolina and Charlotte and Appalachian State and the HBCU schools. Right now, if you check us out, we’ve got our superlatives for 2020. We’ve got our North Carolina Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Come Back of the year and everything else you can imagine. Next week, we’re going to do our look ahead with predictions for what we think might happen in 2021. You can reach me personally on twitter @BFriedACC. And I whether I do it on purpose or not, I tend to poke the hornet’s nest. So it’s usually an entertaining follow up.
Andrew: Yes, you do.
Gene: These are the linkes you want to follow up. I’m Gene Galin with the Chatham Journal. My thing, I concentrate primarily on photos but on Twitter, you can follow us on @ACCfootballnews. Please leave comments. Let us know what you thought about this hour and 20 minutes. And I personally don’t care what you think. I had a great time because these two sports writers are some of the best guys who cover ACC sports. And I always love sitting down with them; kibitzing and just talking about what’s going on because as you can tell, you will get a lot of information and they know their stuff. They’ve been in the industry.
So everybody thank you folks. Follow Bret’s Twitter. North State Journal got a bunch of stuff coming up. Support Andrew Jones on his stuff. We talked earlier, they’re actually grown their subscription base with all this stuff going on because both these guys provide a lot of good, useful content.
So Brett, Andrew, thank you so much. Everyone, thank you for literally have a Merry Christmas! For folks who celebrate Hanukkah that ended in Sunday. Happy New Year and happy holidays. Thank you so much everybody.
Andrew: Enjoyed it my friend. Appreciated it.
Brett: Thanks, Gene
The transcript of the livestream was created automatically by a computer AI and was edited in some places for clarity.