Remember back when you were in high school and at the end of every school year your friends would ask you to write something in their yearbook? Even if you didn’t want to you would oblige and write a memorable song quiet or reference an inside joke just to please them. Then there were those classmates that you never talked to the whole year or were completely opposite of, who would still ask you to write something in their yearbook. Having no idea what to write you would scribble something quickly down like “Have a good summer! Don’t ever change”. No one ever really meant that but it pleased all parties involved.
Thinking back on those interactions, how many people didn’t change? How many did change? You probably know who did and who didn’t which has no effect on you today but think about all of those different types of kids you went to high school with. The jock, the class clown, the quiet one, the stoner and so on. Who would those kids be if they were today’s ACC football teams? Who is going to change and who isn’t in this upcoming football season?
Clemson – “Star Quarterback”
Clemson is clearly the star quarterback of your high school. Dashing good looks, charm, style, athletic ability and simply the guy who has it all (bet you thought I was describing Trevor Lawrence didn’t you). Coming off yet another national title run, the Tigers reload once again and plan to stay the course of being the front runner in the ACC for yet another year.
Syracuse – “The Poser”
From 2015 to 2017, Syracuse was four and eight for three seasons in a row. However, in 2018 the Orange changed everything around and went ten and three. Perhaps Dino’s pep talks are really working after all. Or maybe Syracuse is just a poser pretending to be something it isn’t just like that person back in high who was into whatever was popular at the moment. The 2019 schedule isn’t too daunting for the Orange so we shall see who Syracuse really is.
NC State – “The Average Joe”
Never too high or too low. Never an overachiever or a major failure. That is NC State football, the average Joe of that Atlantic Coast Conference. NC State has flirted with being in the top tier of the conference the last two years but cannot get over the hump. Just when the hype bandwagon is loaded up with believers, the Wolfpack do something stupid to derail the whole campaign (i.e. losing to Wake Forest in 2017 and 2018). NC State should get off to a good start in 2019 but somewhere along the way there will be that unexpected speed bump which will disrupt their momentum and lead them to yet another average season.
North Carolina – “The New Kid?”
Remember when a new student came to your school in the middle of the school year? Everyone wondered what their name was, where they were from and what they were into. Oh, the gossip. Causing even juicier gossip was when a student, that everyone already knew, from a neighboring school came to your school. Their reputation preceded them. Allow me to introduce you to Mack Brown (queue ‘Return of the Mack’ by Mark Morrison). Yup, Mack Brown is back at North Carolina. He’s new but yet he’s not. Can he dust off his old baby blue coaching clothes and find that 90’s magic to revive the Tar Heels football presence? Don’t count on it. It will be more subpar performances for UNC again this year.
Virginia Tech – “A Man’s Man”
In every school there was always that guy who could fix anything, knew a guy who had that tool or gadget or could rig something up for you whatever your need was. That same guy is Virginia Tech, excuse me I mean Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, on the football field. This team has that ‘let’s get the job done’ mentality. Why else would they carry that metal lunch pail around everywhere. I expect the Hokies to get back to their old ways, of finishing the job, in 2019 and to be a contender for the Coastal Division title this year.
Florida State – “Former Starting Quarterback”
Remember the guy that used to be the starting quarterback until someone better came along? Well, that is exactly how Florida State feels. Not that long-ago Florida State was the bar in the ACC. They were the star, then Clemson came along, ended their reign of greatness and the Seminoles have been struggling ever since. The ‘Noles have been trying to get back to that elite level for the past two years and just can’t gain it back. Maybe the Willie Taggart/James Blackmon combo leads FSU back to the glory days but I don’t see it happening. Second string is where this team will remain for yet another year.
Duke – “The Goth Kid”
The Goth kid? I think I’m confused here; Duke clearly should be the jock of the ACC. Wait. What’s that? Oh, you said football? Not basketball? Then yeah, Duke is certainly the Goth kid. Just kind of there, hardly ever makes any noise and minds their own business. Over the past several years, Duke has been nothing more than another team in the ACC. They sort of fade into the crowd and do not stand out in any way. The Goth mystique fits this team and let’s be honest look at how they have adopted those black uniform in recent years.
Boston College – “The Drama Student”
Oh, what to say about Boston College. In 2017 & 2018, the Golden Eagles have either been close to the mountain top or down in the valley below. In other words, what I’m trying to say that this team will take you on a roller coaster ride and play the part to accompany it. In 2017, when BC started off two and four, everyone thought they were dead in the water until they won five of their last six. Then last season, they were seven and two with high hopes of getting a high-profile bowl berth and crashed and burned by losing their final three games. Like a well-versed drama student, this team will play with your emotions and take you on unexpected twists and turns. However, this fall I believe that BC will cause its fans to experience more highs than lows and be a challenger in the ACC.
Wake Forest – “The Stoner”
Wake Forest reminds me of that happy stoner kid. Never too much emotion shown because they are too high but can have some good one-liners (i.e. beating NC State the past two years) and can also give you some really good laughs (i.e. losing to Duke by 52 points last season). Honestly, no idea what to make of this team heading into the upcoming season, could go either way. I guess it all depends on if they brought their Visine or not.
Louisville – “Class Clown”
The class clown always makes everyone laugh, right? Need a good laugh? Take a look at the Cardinals 2018 season. Two and ten overall and a goose egg in the ACC win column, not a good look. FYI, those two wins were over Western Kentucky and Indiana State. Aren’t class clowns meant to make you laugh with them not at them? Regardless, last season was a laughable one for Louisville but does new head coach Scott Satterfield turn things around in 2019? Louisville’s upcoming season may not be as dismal as last year but I suspect that they will still remain the class clown of the conference.
Georgia Tech – “The Loner”
Georgia Tech epitomizes the high school loner. They are geographically located in no man’s land compared to the other ACC school locations and run the triple option offense. They do their own thing down there in north Georgia. However, I am not sure if that holds true for this upcoming season. The Paul Johnson era is over and the Geoff Collins reign begins. Does that mean the triple option dies with Paul Johnson? That is yet to be determined. Also, the Yellow Jackets gained a stud running back in Jamious Griffin this off-season. His potent running ability may cause the Tech offense to evolve and leave the loner attitude behind.
Miami – “The Loud Mouth”
“We’ve won five national titles!!” Need I remind you of 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2001? In the realm of the ACC, Miami is that loud mouth who tells everyone why they are still relevant when in reality they clearly aren’t. Back in 2017, the Hurricanes were once again on the national stage and in the conversation for another national title by cracking the top five in the rankings. However, that hype was followed by three crushing loses to Pittsburgh, Clemson and Wisconsin. Then back to mediocrity in 2018. The 2019 season will probably be full of more drum banging but play out to be nothing more than slightly above average.
Virginia – “The Quiet One”
Virginia has been trending in the right direction over the last two seasons. Now, this trend upward has been methodical and very quiet. Just the way every quiet kid likes it. The Cavaliers aren’t going to be a football powerhouse anytime soon but they are going to be a contender in the middle-of-the-road ACC Coastal division. Maybe being the quiet team with mediocre expectations is just where Bronco Mendenhall wants his team to be for 2019.
Pittsburgh – “The Bro”
Ummm, Bro! We went to ACC title game last year. Yeahhhhh, but you were seven and five. I wouldn’t call that championship caliber. I would call that a very poor Coastal Division. Meet the Bro of the ACC, the Pittsburgh Panthers. Not the brightest of teams but yet they are fun to watch. I would say the same for Pitt’s fearless leader, Pat Narduzzi and his two quarterback sleeves, isn’t the cleverest of coaches but his sideline antics and mannerisms are very entertaining. Similar to Narduzzi, I think Pitt football will be entertaining, whatever that entails, to watch this fall.