We asked ESPN's Lee Corso and Bill Curry, a former head coach at Georgia Tech, their thoughts about the ACC on Wednesday and they had varying opinions.
"I think [the national perception] has changed," said Curry, who sent two of his kids to UVa. "It hasn't taken a huge leap up, but the emergence of N.C. State has helped and it looks like Virginia is on the way back up. Clemson and Georgia Tech have a chance and I think the Maryland story was heartwarming a year ago. If Ralph Friedgen can stay at a high level it will help. But the ACC has made some strides from the Big One and the Little Eight."
Corso, who never holds anything back, disagreed.
"The perception is that they [the ACC] are still No. 6 among the [six] BCS conferences," said Corso. "The Big East is fifth. The ACC is going to have to get better than those guys. You've got to go to major bowl games and win for public perception to change. Maryland got waxed [in last year's Orange Bowl].
"A lot of people don't even know that Florida State is even in the ACC," said Corso. "People think that Florida State is in a league of their own. I don't think that Bobby Bowden thinks they're in the ACC."
Curry has been impressed with the job that Al Groh has done thus far at Virginia.
"I have to take my hat off to Al," said Curry. "He's got a lot of young [assistant coaches] out there beating the bushes for talent and seems to have signed a lot of great players, although we won't truly know that for a few years down the road."
Corso said that you can take it to the bank that coaches who have first coached in college, go to the pros and return to the college ranks such as Groh, UNC's John Bunting and Georgia Tech's Chan Gailey have done, will be successful. But Corso believes guys who were strictly pro coaches and then try to make it as college coaches will fail.
"Coaches who started in college ball understand the college game, while a pro won't," said Corso. "Guys who started in college and came back from the pros know more about football than anyone else because while they were in the NFL, they were in it 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that's an advantage."
Tobacco Road is raving over N.C. State freshman tailback T.A. McLendon, who set a national scoring record while at Albemarle High down in North Carolina last season.
McLendon's friends used to joke that T.A. stood for "Touchdown Anytime."
Maybe it's not a joke. The rookie scored five TDs, including the winning score in overtime at Texas Tech last week. However, he didn't start because he was late for the team bus from the hotel to the stadium because he said he lost track of time.
"He can sleep a little late every week if he runs the ball like that," laughed Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato. "I think he was taking a little cat nap because he knew the game was going into overtime and he
would have to run that much harder."
Mayberry RFD. There's a new sheriff in town down in Durham, Duke football coach Carl Franks.
Franks was named honorary sheriff by the Durham sheriff's department this week for saving the life of a man a year ago. Franks went to Rolling View Marina on Falls Lake near Durham last September to retrieve his boat, but ended up pulling a man from a submerged vehicle that had plunged into the lake after the man has suffered a seizure.
Franks won't be allowed to wear the badge, but will receive an honorary bullet. Hey, didn't Barney Fife carry just one bullet?
Hit parade. The old man can still take a hit.
You might have seen Duke tight end Calen Powell bowl over Florida State coach Bobby Bowden in highlights of last week's game. The 72-year-old Bowden bounced right back up, put on his hat and kept on coaching.
"That's as good a hit as I've had I believe since college," said Bowden with a chuckle. "To be honest with you, it didn't hurt. It's amazing. It should have killed me, but it didn't hurt. It's the worst fear you have. I've seen coaches get their legs broken. I was afraid he'd catch me in the back of my legs and ruin my golf game."
Never passing up a chance to kid his father, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said he was "very disappointed" with his dad's lack of toughness on the collision.
"What a non-athlete," said son Tommy. "The guy just touched him ... just grazed him and he went down."
Injury report. The ACC's top two rushers from a year ago, Maryland's Bruce Perry and Wake Forest's Tarence Williams, are finally back in action.
Perry suffered an injury in preseason and just made it back for a little work against Eastern Michigan last week. He should get more time against Wofford on Saturday. Williams broke his foot falling out of a bunk bed in July and returned to action against Purdue for a few carries, leaving Deacs coach Jim Grobe to comment, "Tarence is close to being back at full speed ... starting to look like the old Tarence Williams."
Georgia Tech will start true freshman Ajenavi "Ace" Eziemefe, from New Orleans at tailback vs. UNC in place of the nation's leading rusher, Tony Hollings, who blew out a knee against BYU last Saturday. With upperclassmen Sidney Ford out with headaches stemming from a concussion and Gordon Clinkscale injured, it's up to Ezimefe to get the job done.
Hollings is the second Techster lost in the last week after All-American defensive end Greg Gathers (the Jackets' career leader in sacks with 31) is through due to a kidney disorder.
Things you didn't know. UVa's Al Groh has not been back to Wake Forest since he was head coach there in 1986. ...N.C. State coach Chuck Amato's brother, Rosario is an ACC ref but isn't allowed to officiate Wolfpack games.
Florida State is tied for the most players on NFL rosters with 39, sharing the top spot with Florida and Notre Dame. Ironically, FSU will play both the Gators and Irish this season. Michigan is fourth with 38 and yet another FSU opponent, Miami, is fifth with 35. FYI, Virginia has 24.
Short yardage ... Virginia played 21 true or redshirt freshmen in last week's win over Akron... UVa and Wake Forest are tied for No. 1 in the nation in turnovers gained with 16 apiece. ...The ACC has six bowl deals but if only five teams qualify, the conference would drop out of the Seattle Bowl. ...FSU has not trailed for a single second this season. ...12 of Wake's first 15 games under Coach Jim Grobe have been decided by seven points or less. ...While playing golf with this columnist, Grobe, who played at UVa under Sonny Randle, said that he has been around a lot of stadiums in the country, but thought that what Virginia has done to Scott Stadium makes it the most beautiful football arena in the nation. ...Wake QB James McPherson has thrown 89 passes in a row without an interception, dating back to last season's win over Northern Illinois. ...ACC teams have scored 14 TDs this season by either defense or special teams, five of those by N.C. State and three by Virginia, the second most in the league. ...The Deacs gave up 477 yards last week and won, while Duke's opponent this week, Navy, gained 678 yards and lost.
The picks. Last week: 5-2. To date: 20-10. This week: Duke 36, Navy 33; Florida State 50, Louisville 17; North Carolina 24, Georgia Tech 19; Maryland 41, Wofford 0; N.C. State 44, U Mass 10; Virginia 36, Wake Forest 34.