The word from ACC Kickoff

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Just got into my hotel down here at the ACC Kickoff, and wanted to share the themes of the day before turning in:

* Running backs. Notably C.J. Spiller, but also Jonathan Dwyer and others. Lots of folks wanted to talk about the players racking up carries. Might be worth considering the quality of the offensive lines as well, though that tends not to make great copy or prompt a lot of gushing. Too bad.

* Quarterbacks. Lots of them running around, too. Six in total, actually. Is there a renaissance under center in the league? Well, it’s better than two years ago, but much of that comes from actually being able to recognize the starter at more schools.

* Perception of the league. This is my fourth ACC Kickoff and fifth straight year covering the conference, but this is always a popular topic bludgeoned to death. Play it out on the field, fellas. The league was better in 2008, but there was no national title contender. There’s lots of criteria for evaluating a league. Scoring well on more of them is good. Scoring well on all of them is better.

* Boston College and Maryland don’t expect much out of the media voting. After spending much of my time at these two tables, this is pretty much a sure thing. Neither school’s players seemed to believe they were going to be picked rather high in the preseason poll (not that it matters much). On the bright side, someone is going to be surprised, since two teams from the same division can’t be picked last. Well, unless there’s a tie.

* Duke is much more popular. Blue Devils quarterback Thaddeus Lewis held court longer than any player in the first half of the interview session. Typically, Duke players are usually abandoned after a half-hour. Says a lot about the charismatic Lewis, the Blue Devils’ increased relevance and (yes) placing this event in North Carolina that he would be in such demand. Speaking of demand …

* Where did all these media members come from? Seriously, the place was packed. Most impressive was the fully functional Radio Row that has quite honestly looked rather feeble in past years. Not this time. In a time of massive cutbacks in the industry, it was surprising (but not bad for the ACC) to see so many people in attendance.

* Wille Young can talk. And talk. And talk. Only caught the end of the N.C. State defensive lineman’s discussion. Big mistake. Young must have filled up notebooks for more than an hour with his loquacious take on all sorts of things; unsurprisingly, he was the last player out of the room after his session.

More coming tomorrow morning. But that’s about it for me after such a long day.

– Patrick Stevens

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