GREENSBORO, Ga. — There’s no reason to partake in the comical Sportswriter Media Guide Haul if you don’t have to. That’s why it’s always smart to bring an extra piece of luggage to wheel them around in.
Anyway, it’s time for the annual look at the media guide covers throughout the ACC — and what the choices to put front and center really mean for each program. Time to get started…
* Boston College
On the cover: Defensive tackle Ron Brace, coach Jeff Jagodzinski, tight end Ryan Purvis, wide receiver Brandon Robinson (in cap and gown)
Slogan: The BC Way: Winning * Graduating * Caring
What it means: A very traditional approach. The two players pictured in uniform are the ones who will be available for interviews today. Jagodzinski is one of only two returning coaches on his media guide cover (the other is Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen). And if this season doesn’t work out the way the Eagles would like, they can always (and often do) point to their graduation rate.
On the cover: (clockwise from top left) Quarterback Cullen Harper, defensive back Michael Hamlin, wide receiver Aaron Kelly, tailback James Davis, tailback C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Dorell Scott
Slogan: Thunder & Lightning (below, of course, Davis and Spiller, who are posing by Howard’s Rock)
What it means: Quite simply, Clemson trotted out its best players. The Tigers are likely to be voted the favorite to win the ACC, and the six guys pictured are an exceptionally big part of why that is. Davis won’t have to be guaranteeing victories over Maryland this year; it’s going to be understood from the start Clemson should beat just about everyone they encounter in the conference this time around.
On the cover: A big Duke “D”, with new coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke Chapel in the background
What it means: Talk is cheap, especially for a program that hasn’t sniffed a bowl game in 14 years. Duke went 2-33 over the last three years, so it isn’t exactly the time for boasting even with a new coach. If you go back a couple Blue Devils coaches to Carl Franks, his first media guide featured his team’s offensive slogan “Airborne.” After an anemic first season, the Duke Chronicle dubbed it “Stillborn.” That won’t be happening this time around.
* Florida State
On the cover: Cornerback Tony Carter, safety Myron Rolle, wideout Greg Carr, defensive end Everette Brown, quarterback Drew Weatherford, guard Rodney Hudson, linebacker Derek Nicholson, running back Antone Smith. Above them, a statue of Chief Osceola with a flaming spear.
What it means: Besides saying “These guys AREN’T suspended for the first three games for an academic scandal”? That’s an underlying theme for the start of the Seminoles’ season, and it’s logical to choose the best representatives available to be viewed by the public/media. The striking part of this artwork is the Chief Osceola statue, and that’s almost certainly not an accident, either.
* Georgia Tech
On the cover: New coach Paul Johnson
Slogan: The perfect option
What it means: The Yellow Jackets don’t exactly have a ton of big-name players left. But that’s OK, since Johnson’s triple option scheme is based more on precision than flash. It’s hard to really read too much into this; just about every school with a new coach is going to feature him.
On the cover: (Clockwise from top left) Linebacker Dave Philistin, coach Ralph Friedgen, cornerback Kevin Barnes, defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre, center Edwin Williams
What it means: Not a whole lot. It’s just another season in College Park. The four seniors on the cover are an echo of last year’s group of four: Good guys all and superstars none. Now it’s just time to go punch in the six-to-eight wins and be done with it.
On the cover: An unknown player’s hand holding up a Miami helmet.
What it means: Given the listing at the top of the page of “National Champions 1983-1987-1989-1991-2001,” it’s likely about reclaiming the Hurricanes’ past glory. That seems like a good idea, since Miami went a ghastly 5-7 last year in coach Randy Shannon’s first season.
* North Carolina
On the cover: (Clockwise from top left) Wideout Hakeem Nicks, quarterback T.J. Yates, wideout Brandon Tate, safety Deunta Williams, offensive tackle Garrett Reynolds, safety Trimane Goddard
What it means: North Carolina actually has good players to put on its cover this year. All semi-kidding aside, the fact only half of the group are seniors bodes very well for the Tar Heels’ future — and maybe for their present as well.
* N.C. State
On the cover: (Clockwise from top left): Tight end Anthony Hill, cornerback Jeremy Gray, tailback Andre Brown and tackle Meares Green
What it means: It should be pointed out four more seniors are on the back cover. The word “Wolf” is on the back, with “Pack” on the front. That’s not as creative as State’s excellent movie-themed cover from last year (“A Tom O’Brien Team”) , but it’s still a reasonably neat ploy for a team in Year Two under a coach who went 5-7 last fall.
On the cover: Tailback Cedric Peerman, cornerback Vic Hall, linebacker Clint Sintim, tight end John Phillips
Slogan: None (unless you count the standard Virginia “Uncompromised Excellence”)
What it means: The Cavaliers have no one nearly as good as last year’s sole cover boy, Chris Long. Then again, that’s not really a huge surprise. A shot of Scott Stadium at night takes up the bottom third of the cover. If the football field turns out to be one of Virginia’s big stars this season, that might just spell trouble.
* Virginia Tech
On the cover: An optigraphic (hey, who else remembers Sportsflics from the mid 1980s?) cover featuring a couple groups of players celebrating in the end zone and another player holding up a Hokie helmet. The back cover hails Tech’s ACC title from last year, with quarterback Sean Glennon, cornerback Macho Harris and coach Frank Beamer.
What it means: It’s all about the team. And, by the way, they won a conference title last year.
* Wake Forest
On the cover: (Clockwise from bottom left): Safety Chip Vaughn, linebacker Stanley Arnoux, linebacker Chantz McClinic, kicker Sam Swank, linebacker Aaron Curry, safety Kevin Patterson, defensive end Matt Robinson, cornerback Alphonso Smith
What it means: The Demon Deacons will do well thanks to a cast of thousands rather than one star. A real upset, huh? Oh, and they expect their defense to be pretty good, since the offensive players were relegated to the back cover.
On the cover: Virginia Tech’s Sean Glennon, Frank Beamer and Tyrod Taylor
Slogan: “2008 ACC Football … The road to Tampa Bay!”
What it means: Thank heavens the season won’t end in front of 30,000 empty TEAL seats in Jacksonville this year.
—- Patrick Stevens