GREENSBORO, N.C. – Hulking (but not as hulking as in the past) and produced in high-stock paper (though maybe not as high-stock as in the past), the media guide’s primary use is to show 20 pictures of a program’s weight room in an attempt to woo recruits assist reporters in their day-to-day work.
It’s also a way to determine just how a school views its program entering a season – especially a cover.
In the ACC, that’s true for for everyone but Maryland, which zapped all of its media guides – football included – as a cost-cutting measure. Off to the web for the Terpies; there are more than a few interpretations as to what sort of message the school projects by going with a PDF.
So that means Maryland actually doesn’t play a prominent role in this entry past this point. Here’s what everyone else wants folks like me to be talking about
* BOSTON COLLEGE
On the cover: New coach Frank Spaziani, with Alumni Stadium at dusk in the background
Slogan: “They have the power to succeed because they are convinced they can.”
What it means: It’s the usual team-first approach at BC, which comes as no surprise at all. It’s also not a shock that on the inside cover is a brief essay by linebacker Mark Herzlich, last year’s ACC defensive player of the year who will miss this season while undergoing treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma.
On the cover: Most prominently tailback C.J. Spiller, but also defensive backs Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor, defensive end Ricky Sapp, guard Thomas Austin and wideout Jacoby Ford.
What it means: The school clearly thinks it has a pretty big thing in Spiller (hence the lifesize posters available at the conference media day). But it’s not a one-man show, and that’s why the Tigers could surprise.
On the cover: Linebacker Vincent Rey, defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, coach David Cutcliffe
Slogan: “Pursuit of Excellence”
What it means: First of all, the program has scaled down its “cast of thousands” approach to the cover of two years ago, which provides a little focus. All three players on the cover are guys worth knowing in the ACC, and they might just have the goods to chase down Duke’s first .500 or better season since 1994.
* FLORIDA STATE
On the cover: Tight end Caz Piurowski, quarterback Christian Ponder, linebacker Dekoda Watson, guard Rodney Hudson, defensive lineman Budd Thacker, cornerback Patrick Robinson looming over an outside shot of Doak Campbell Stadium.
Slogan: “83,000 strong”
What it means: The NCAA’s infractions committee can’t take that away.
* GEORGIA TECH
On the cover: Safety Morgan Burnett, guard Cord Howard, defensive end Derrick Morgan, coach Paul Johnson, running back Jonathan Dwyer, with a locomotive in the middle.
Slogan: “Full steam ahead”
What it means: Johnson has every intention of flattening opponents, just as his teams always have.
On the cover: Miami goes the optigraphic route, with a big, honking “U” to go along with pictures of each of Miami’s five national title rings.
What it means: From the Hurricanes’ perspective at least, it would seem to be a reminder that “The U” isn’t dead despite a recent slide. The back of the guide has some significance as well, since few schools can match the posse of Pro Bowlers that Miami has exported over the last decade and a half. There’s 10 of them pictured.
* NORTH CAROLINA
On the cover: Linebacker Quan Sturdivant, running back Shaun Draughn, linebacker Bruce Carter, tackle Kyle Jolly, defensive end E.J. Wilson, cornerback Kendric Burney
What it means: Presumably that the Tar Heels are finally producing their share of star players again. In a clever, subtle move, words like “commitment” and “resilience” are etched into the sides of letters in “Carolina Football.”
* N.C. STATE
On the cover: Tailback Jamelle Eugene and defensive end Willie Young
What it means: With the flags denoting North Carolina, the United States and also N.C. State, it would seem the Wolfpack is halfway to Six Flags. It might also be a not-so-subtle reminder the Wolfpack have done rather well against in-state opponents of late – 6-1 in two years since Tom O’Brien took over.
On the cover: Quarterback/cornerback Vic Hall, linebacker Denzel Burrell, tailback Mikell Simpson, tackle Will Barker
What it means: None of those guys are identified by name, which means at least one of two things – an all-for-one-and-one-for-all approach, or the absence of any true stars. Hall is probably the Cavaliers’ biggest name, and will make a difference no matter where he plays.
* VIRGINIA TECH
On the cover:Frank Beamer celebrating an ACC title; some oranges and a couple ACC trophies; a bunch of players in a huddle
What it means: Yep, the Hokies won the league again last year. No reason to let anyone forget.
* WAKE FOREST
On the cover: Eleven seniors, with cornerback Brandon Ghee and quarterback Riley Skinner featured slightly more prominently.
What it means: Ten more seniors grace the back cover, so everyone gets a turn. Clearly, the team as a whole is getting promoted above any single player – including Skinner, the winningest QB in school history.