July 22, 2014

2014 ACC Football Media Days

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Chas @ 6:48 am

I’m not sure why the ACC starts media day on a Sunday. Other than to make it as clear as possible to BYU  that they will never receive an invite. I mean, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal for the media. Prepare the stock “Five things for ACC Media Days” column in advance. Show up on a Saturday to the nice resort hotel. Get one free night to party and have a good time. Nurse the hangover. Put the digital recorder on the podium and let those stock questions flow to the players.

I mean, it is media day. It isn’t really about the media any longer, as we saw from the 4-day long SEC event. It is about marketing the conference to everyone else. It is about getting the fans ready for football season. It is the starting point to coverage for the new season.

For the Coastal Division (Pitt’s), the only certainty is Virginia for the cellar. After that, it seems like a crap shoot. Virginia Tech, , UNC, Miami, Georgia Tech, Duke and even Pitt received at least one vote in the preseason poll to win the Coastal. Pitt is a popular “dark horse” pick because of the  schedule, but still ended up being picked 6th in the division.


After all those years of the Big East coverage, it is still an adjustment to see that many votes for a conference media poll.

Coach Paul Chryst was typical in his reaction to where Pitt was positioned.

“We’re all experts, huh?” Chryst joked with a smile.

The projection puts Pitt exactly where it finished in 2013. It finished sixth with a 3-5 conference record.

Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech were picked to finish ahead of the Panthers, with Virginia bringing up the rear.

In a sign of the parity within Pitt’s division, six of the seven Coastal teams received at least one first-place vote (Virginia was the only team that did not). Pitt received two first-place votes.

“I think all you needed was last year to prove it,” Chryst said of the parity within the division. “Not just what Duke [winning the division] did but across [the board].”

Like many, I struggle to understand how Virginia has been this bad. They have some legitimate talent, and have recruited really well. Mike London seemed like a good hire at the time. Now he is coaching for his job and most people don’t see it happening.

Pitt’s player reps at Greensboro, Ray Vinopal and Tyler Boyd, did not duck any expectations.

“If you talk to Tyler or [sophomore running back] James Conner, they’re not going to say, ‘Yeah I’m ready in two years,'” Vinopal said. “I know those guys are trying to win this year. That’s all I need to know.”

Vinopal didn’t shy away from concrete goals, either, saying that he wants to end his college career with at least a 10-win season in 2014.

“I think it’s a very realistic goal,” he said. “Pending that we execute like I said and don’t lose focus.”

And, like Vinopal, he agreed that Pitt has the talent to make waves in the ACC. Not two or three years down the road, but right now.

“I feel like we’ve got the guys to compete with whoever we’re going against to win,” Boyd said. “If we play as a unit, we’re going to be even stronger than we were.

“I’m tired of being an average team. I want to be greater than that.”

Have to admit. I want that quote to be the mantra of this team this year.

The problem with the dead mediocrity Pitt has had the last few years is that you can talk yourself into either way. A little better play, a little more luck, a little better coaching, less injuries, etc… and Pitt could have won 8-10 games each of the last few years. So close it would seem. Conversely it could go the other way and Pitt may have been looking at 3-4 win seasons. No where near the rest of the better teams.

Vinopal also sang the praises of the new strength and conditioning program.

“The strength and conditioning program was good under (former) coach (Todd) Rice (who resigned in December). He knew his stuff,” Vinopal said. “But it wasn’t necessarily focused on pushing our players to a point where you felt like you were in the fourth quarter of a game; or it’s tough and how are you going to perform when you feel that way? You feel fatigued.

“Now, guys are really being challenged and I think it is really going to carry over to the game in the fourth quarter. Now, guys can say on that 10th rep I ran those stadium steps at Heinz, I felt like I couldn’t do any more and did five more and I did them as perfectly as I did the first 10.”

We will see. Never was a fan of Todd Rice, and the warning I received about him from a BC buddy was dead-on. My issues with the present S&C coach are well known, and not worth re-re-hashing.


Two weeks till camp, 39 days 4 hrs till game time.

Let’s Go Pitt!

Comment by gc 07.22.14 @ 7:02 am

S&C program is much more in line with what the program is. From what I read and hear the players like the way things are going. I understand all teams spend time and energy on those needs as well. But if Pitt is to improve and build the program, then a good to very good S&C program is critical. Can’t really understand why Pitt fans want to shoot holes in the S&C program now.

Comment by chethejet 07.22.14 @ 7:17 am

Not sure many Pitt fans aren’t shooting holes in the S&C program; my recollection is that new coach is underqualified and inexperienced. However, of course, if the team wins and especially if they play better in the 4th quarter, then nobody will care about the coach’s qualifications.

It’s kind of like the pre-season ratings. They mean nothing once the season begins. Fact is that it is easy to pick the top teams in a league … FSU, Clemson, Bama, Oh St, Ok, Ore, Stanford, etc., but the media, coaches or even the so-called experts do not do enough anaylses of the remaining teams to make an accurate accessment of them.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 7:34 am

Todd Rice had all the experience and background to be successful. He was a bad fit. It appears the new guy is a better fit for the program. I think he knows what he is doing and what HCPC wants the program to reflect.

Comment by chethejet 07.22.14 @ 7:46 am

I’ve heard it first hand the players believe in the new guy. He is more common sense and they have assistants who have come through some top programs and the league. The program quickly converted into more lifts getting them ready than stretching and agilities.

More than anything, Rice did not have the respect of the rest of the staff. He even argued with the doctors and was interjecting himself into rehab, what a player should be doing in contrast to what the doctors plans were. In short, a know it all who pissed everyone off but final analysis is he didn’t know what he was doing and had a nasty attitude.

Time to bury all that and be glad S&C, players and staff are all on the same page going into 2014. Give PC credit for realizing his mistake, correcting it and moving forward.

Comment by PittMan 07.22.14 @ 7:46 am

The predictions are wrong. IMO both Pitt and UVA go to the top half. Duke won’t do as well within the league. Miami is legit at the top. GA Tech and UNC don’t impress me. Tech especially. New QB and key losses on defense. Va Tech stays in the middle. Not the program it once was. Be glad we aren’t on the other side with FSU/Clemson – we have an opening here, as even Miami is beatable on a good day.

Comment by PittMan 07.22.14 @ 7:51 am

I would think the getting the team to buy into the S&C program is more than half the battle. Rice had its issues … but the biggest issue IMO was the amount of injuries as well as the longer healing times from those injuries.

This is where the jury is still out, and will be out for a while, on the current S&C coach. Heck, I hope he turns out to be the best but just because he won the initial battle doesn’t mean he wins the war. Time will tell.

Face it, just about every time a new S&C coach is hired, the players rave about him.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 7:53 am

Off topic but here is uodate of last night’s Pro-Am semi-finals .. more of the same

link to

Not listed is the fact that Mike Young was named MVP and Cam Johnson was named most promising newcomer … while Nuke and Uchebo made all-league.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 8:10 am

I don’t know why everyone is sold on Miami at the top. Have they done anything to improve their defense? Have they figured out a quarterback? Can Duke Johnson run on a surgically repaired leg? While it wasn’t as close as our game against NC, we played Miami better last year then we’ve played them since 1997. This division really is wide open.

The only thing that concerns me about this S&C coach is that injuries will skyrocket b/c he’s shifted his emphasis from flexibility to brute strength. That being said, we had our fair share last couple years with Rice, so I’m hoping ol’ ross is keeping those guys flexible as well as strong. Stanford does it the best, from what I hear. I’d love it if he was modeling their program.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 07.22.14 @ 8:12 am

Underqualified. Ok. Inexperienced? Debatable.

What exactly does an S&C coach have to do to prove himself to the fans? Just wondering where the line is when it is ok to say — AHA! This guy is good!

Comment by JCE 07.22.14 @ 8:20 am

The conditioning part of the program like running the steps and doing exercises that promote stamina are part of the program as well. Ultimately it is the participation of the players and the effort taken that will determine how much success the program has.

Comment by chethejet 07.22.14 @ 8:25 am

Atlanta, I agree that the division is wide open. Last year, we lost to everyone but Duke & U Va which is probably why we were picked 6th.

Miami was the one game (in our division) where we were overmatched. I expect that we will do better against them this year, but I have no problem with them being picked as #1.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 8:25 am

Hate to say it but I think the Tarholes might be pretty good this year.

Larry Fedora is a pretty good coach, who turned around a 1-5 start last year into a 7-6 season with a big bowl win over Cincy in one of our favorite bowl games. The Holes won 6 of their last 7 with only a 2 point loss to Duke 25-27 interrupting that streak. And they got better when Williams took over at QB.

The ACC might not like having them in the limelight with the ongoing academic scandals going on in the athletic dept, so there’s that.

But I an looking forward to the November trip to beautiful Chapel Hill. You guys are going to like that !

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 9:47 am

Oh this is interesting.

The Holes got OUR trip to Notre Dame this year.

Something to be noted.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 9:53 am

Good news BC also lost their top WR from last year, a kid who had 77 receptions for over a 1000 yards, plus they lost of course their good RB, Williams who was basically their ground game with 355 attempts.

Their other returning WR’s only combined for a total of 22 catches and they also lost their top 2 TE’s.

This is perfect for our restructured defense and new d-coaches.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 10:02 am

Take pre-season predictions with a grain of salt. Last year Aaron Donald wasn’t even picked on the pre-season 1st team and Duke was picked to finish last in the Coastal Division.

Anyone have a guess what time the Georgia Tech kickoff time will be? I am trying to plan that weekend in advance and am guessing it won’t be a noon start but may be moved to evening like it was last year. Any educated guesses from my fellow Blatherites?

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 07.22.14 @ 10:08 am

BC is also having to break in a new punter and a new placekicker.

Might be a good game to aggressively go after the punter.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 10:13 am

Noon – 15%; 12:30 (ACC GOW) – 35%
3:30 – 20%; 7:00 – 30%

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 10:13 am

The GT game is on October 25th. Shouldn’t have to worry about the Pirates playing by then.

The Steelers play the following day at 4:25 pm.

How long does it take the grounds crew to turn around the stadium ?

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 10:20 am

If you’ve seen the Freshmen visit to the Mel Blount Youth Home… curious as to who is the player scoring a “PERFECT 10” with the Back-Flip?

Comment by PittofDreams 07.22.14 @ 11:51 am

Emel – only about 10 hours, so really a non-factor. For example, last year the Steelers had a 1p home game after Pitt’s 8p Saturday night game vs. Notre Dame.

Comment by Iron Duke 07.22.14 @ 11:55 am

If you’ve seen the Freshmen visit to the Mel Blount Youth Home… curious as to who is the player scoring a “PERFECT 10? with the Back-Flip?

Comment by PittofDreams 07.22.14 @ 11:51 am

I believe that was Quintin Wirginis, a LB from Fox Chapel.

Comment by Mailman 07.22.14 @ 12:24 pm

The time of the GT game depends on both how well Pitt and GT are playing and the competing games.

Note that Florida State and Louisville have byes that weekend because they play the following Thursday night. The other competing games are:

BC at Wake
Syracuse at Clemson

So if Pitt and GT are both sporting decent records by the first week of Oct, the ACC and ESPN will probably want them on later versus earlier.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 07.22.14 @ 12:25 pm

Emel – I sure hope your statements about the Tarholes don’t prove out. The fans are provincial and arrogant.

I’m still chuckling over how the fans at the ACC BB tourney looked when Pitt beat their beloved ‘Heels.

But you are correct; its a beautiful place and a great road trip.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 07.22.14 @ 12:29 pm

I thought Pitt would be picked 5th, ahead of Ga Tech. They almost were. No respect until it is earned. Hopefully that starts this year.

If I had a vote through my Kool-aid colored glasses:
UNC (6-2)
Duke (5-3)
Pitt (5-3)
Miami (4-4)
Va Tech (4-4)
Ga Tech (2-6)
UVa (1-7)

Miami will probably beat Pitt, but their schedule is brutal. Really, Pitt and Duke have most favorable schedules in the division.

If Pitt goes 4-0 at home in conference, they’ve got a shot. If Pitt does nothing more than beat the teams they SHOULD they go 4-4. But lose on the road at either BC or UVa, and 6th sounds about right.

Comment by Iron Duke 07.22.14 @ 12:44 pm

As long as we can find ways to get the ball to Tyler Boyd, (and play somewhat decent defense) I don’t see how we can lose to teams like BC & UVA.

If Jennings turns out to be half as good as Tyler was, I’d like to see some plays with Boyd lined up in the backfield. With the intent of using him as a WR out of the backfield. Defense does not know what side of the field to defend that way.
And you hopefully can manage a LB trying to cover Boyd in open space.

He can be much more dangerous this way and you give the new QB shorter throws to get it to Boyd.

We’ll see how creative or not, PC is.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 1:20 pm

Oh and he’s much harder to double coverage, coming out of the backfield than lining up him up as a traditional WR.

As he can go left or right or up the middle coming out of the backfield. Very tough to double him in this alignment.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 1:23 pm

I want to be a believer, but I start to think, shake my head, and reality sets in. You have got to have the horses to win the race.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 07.22.14 @ 1:40 pm

Come on Old Pitt Grad…we have to be optimistic until at least halftime of the Delaware game.


Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 2:19 pm

From the gift that keeps on giving, JayPa is suing PSU for a ‘rush to judegment’ in firing him as a result of the Freeh Report. Part of his damage claim is that he is unable to get another coaching job.

Excerpt from the P-G: He claims to have applied for open head-coaching positions at colleges such as James Madison, Connecticut, Boston College and Colorado and wasn’t interviewed for any of them.

Not assistant .. but head coach … he was a QB coach for his last 11 years, and none of his QBs showed any improvement in school. He also ran for Lt Governor and never made it past the primary.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 2:31 pm

EMel….or until Delaware scores first…

Comment by Dan 72 07.22.14 @ 2:32 pm

Guarded optimism about this year … we all have been jilted a little too much before.

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 2:35 pm

Wbb. I am unable to win the lottery! Who do I sue? About the same merit.

Heard Holgy say he would like to renew the Back Yard Brawl…any time …any place of Pitt’s choosing. How does “never” sound!

Comment by Dan 72 07.22.14 @ 2:36 pm


Seriously? He ran in the primary for Light Gov?


Comment by pmdH2P 07.22.14 @ 3:35 pm

lol Dan72

Very funny. But probably accurate.

Paterno ran for Lt. Governor, too funny as well.

But I’m sure everyone pedo zombie voted for him.

Had it been the old man he would have won no doubt.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 4:51 pm

Found this.

His campaign was over before it started, sort of like his Head Coaching career.

link to

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 4:58 pm

Apparently he had a tough time getting 1000 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

Now that is truly hysterical. haha

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 5:02 pm

well at least he tried … I guess

Comment by wbb 07.22.14 @ 5:32 pm

I do love PITT!

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 07.22.14 @ 7:08 pm

Running for Lt. Governor is like….nope, cant think of an apt comparison. The main difference between Lt. Gov and unemployment is the size of the paycheck.

Maybe Jaypa cant get a coaching job because the only reason he ever had a coaching job in the first place was his Papa.

Comment by dinosaur 71 07.22.14 @ 7:39 pm

Bingo and if you can’t do anything else, you get into politics.

Comment by Emel 07.22.14 @ 8:22 pm

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