Last week I told you the mailbag wasn't only for questions. Kevin in Jacksonville took that to mean I'm his bartender, too ...
Kevin writes: So seeing Sam Sheilds making huge plays in the NFC Championship game should make every Miami fan sad. This guy is proof that the former coaching staff did not have players playing even close to their potential. What could have been....No question here, just had to get this out of my system.
HD: Hey, I'm here for you, man. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Scott in Avon, N.C., writes: Heather,Is next year the best chance for the ACC to have two BSC bowl teams since the BCS began? VT has won ten games or more for 7 or 8 years in a row now and FSU looks like the best ACC team going into 2011. UNC has a pretty soft out of conference schedule and does not play FSU in 2011. Any real hope all 3 of those teams finish with 10 wins and 2 of them go to the BCS?
HD: I'd be surprised, Scott. I thought the league had a really good chance two years ago, and I don't see it being as strong as it was in 2009. I'm not convinced Virginia Tech will keep its streak of 10 wins alive (hmm, sounds like a separate post), and North Carolina has some significant questions to answer this offseason, as do most of the teams.
Colt in Tally writes: Hey HD, how do you say FSU is the most talented team in the Atlantic, and say we have the most recruiting needs? You listed every position except corner and quarterback in our needs?
HD: Yeah, I probably could've narrowed it down, but this is going to be a pretty big class for Florida State. The staff is loading up and building depth everywhere. Plus, there were some positions that aren't necessarily depleted, but need an upgrade of talent. FSU is covering all of its bases in this class, but you're right, I could've narrowed it down a bit.
Jeremy in Ocala, Fla., wrote: So Heather, what would it take to get an official list of all ACC players going for the draft?
HD: Here's an official list of all of the underclassmen. Does that help?
Brad in Charleston, S.C., writes: Heather, I like reading the blog to stay up to date in the offseason. You talk about how UNC has already paid a price for violations but the NCAA has to come down with some sanctions or it is a joke. What I don't understand is how can they not have a ruling before signing day. They've certainly had plenty of time and to me it is unconscionable for the NCAA to let this go past signing day, both for the kids who will be impacted and other institutions who have been sanctioned in the past. Is there any recourse for recruites who sign for UNC if they do come under 2-3 yrs of sanctions?
HD: A few things on this: First, there is absolutely no timetable on when this might be resolved. Some past cases have taken two years. Second, the vibe from UNC officials is that they're not expecting any "severe" punishments. With that being said, nobody knows how this will end. Third, for the recruits in this signing class, the school can choose to release them without penalty if the program is under NCAA sanctions, and that would be the right thing to do, but not all schools opt to go that route. It's always a "case-by-case" basis with the NCAA (which, yes, I know, can be maddening to figure out). You look at the situation with USC, and the juniors and seniors on the roster were allowed to transfer without penalty. So I realize that's not an answer to your question, but the truth is, nobody has the answers right now.
George in Boston writes: A non-ACC question for you. If USC can only give out 15 Scholarships athis year, how can they have signed over 20 recruits?
HD: It's called oversigning and it happens way too often. Coaches will sign kids they're pretty sure will have a tough time qualifying academically. My colleague Bruce Feldman summed it up pretty nicely:
The process is this: Sign the shaky four-star prospect so that you can up your recruiting ranking, impress other prospective recruits, appease your fan base (and, in turn, the administration), increase your own chance of landing that recruiting bonus, and then send the players who can't get in academically to a junior college as if it's a farm system. If the kid turns out to be a complete knucklehead or flops on the field, you forget about him. If not, you didn't take up a spot for two years and then the juco coach, who is thrilled you sent him a talented player, has protected him for you and sends you back a more ready-to-play, developed prospect.
T.C. in Richmond, Va., writes: Hey HD--I'm not going to ask how Wake got so bad, because they've been bad as long as I can remember with the exception of the Riley Skinner era. My question, though, is how did they get so good during that time, and is there any chance of them ever getting there in the future? I saw a stat today that they ranked worse than 90th in both offense and defense. I have a lot of respect for Grobe as a coach but can we ever expect him to land a class like that one that featured A Smith, Curry, Skinner, etc? And how did those guys get away from the "big boys" (esp Smith and Skinner being FL guys). Thanks Heather.
HD: Hey, T.C. They got so good during that time because they recruited players like Aaron Curry, Alphonso Smith and Stanley Arnoux. Those linebackers were probably the fastest the program had ever seen. That defense was a takeaway machine, and with Skinner leading the offense, everything was in place for the run to the Orange Bowl. Those players escaped the "big boys" because they were unheralded recruits. Now, other programs are paying attention to the players Grobe and his staff are recruiting. It's harder to find those gems. They found one in the quarterback they have in this class and now Miami is trying to take him. They landed a receiver and Boston College lured him away. Yes, they can get some of those elite players again, but it's going to take more than a 3-9 season to do it, and it's definitely not going to be a regular occurrence.
I'll have another mailblog on Friday, so feel free to get your questions in and we can always catch up on Twitter if you're following me @ESPN_ACC.