The season is over. The blog lives on. Step into my office ...
Kevin in Washington, DC writes: HD, do you think there's some kind of issue at GT causing players to leave early? Sure, I'll give you Dwyer, Burnett, Morgan, and Thomas; those guys were studs. But Tarrant, Claytor, and now probably Hill leaving to go undrafted seems odd, especially since they have had the raw ability that would be developed more by another year in "the minors." Or is this normal attrition that most upper-middle tier programs face?
HD: No, I don't see an issue, other than some guys getting bad advice from people who aren't in the program. I'd say it's normal. What's not normal is the mass exodus that happened at Maryland.
Jonathan in Dunn, NC writes: Hey HD, I understand completely that you have Clemson, FSU, and VT to start in the pre-season top 25. However, with NC State heading into the Chic-fil-a Classic against Tennessee why wouldn't the Wolfpack get some pre-season love ESPECIALLY after being 1 of 2 teams in the ACC(both atlantic) to get it done in the bowl season. We are going to be bringing back a ton of offense and defense next year and although Terrell Manning (early exit to draft) and Audi Cole leaving our LB corps not to mention J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn on the D-line. We are still going to have an expereinced defense coming in next season. It seems as though the only 2 players that will be big losses for us on offense is WR/SPC TJ Graham and All-ACC TE George Bryan. However, Tom Obrien has done a pretty good job in getting playing time for other guys in those positions this season (rather by design or by the injury bug). So please tell me why N.C. State can't win the ACC this year and be a valid contender in the Atlantic division with FSU. Because let's face it, after watching Clemson in its last 5 games(1-4 including a pounding by NCSU) they do not look like the team to beat in the Atlantic. I'm telling you the game to watch is FSU @ NCSU in 2012! GO PACK!
HD: I like the Pack for 2012, Jonathan, I really do. You're right, they could be a preseason top 25 team, but so could Georgia Tech. I do agree that NC State could be a contender for the division title in 2012, but if they're not ranked this preseason, have no fear -- neither was Clemson.
Altair in Washington, DC writes: Hello, Heather. I would like to know, for the coming year and I know this is early, Do you think with the influx of talent coming to the ACC for the 2012-13 season, that the conference will have it's best season to date? Plus, Will FSU finally! keep the blemishes off and shine for the 2012-13 season? Thanks and have a great day.
HD: I think 2012 could be special, but 2013 might be even better. One thing that will really help the league in 2012 is the maturation of the quarterbacks. It was such a rookie group this year. It will also help to have some continuity in the coaching ranks, save for North Carolina. Look, after a 2-6 record this bowl season, there's only one way to go: up.
Chris in Arlington, Va., by way of Blacksburg writes: Heather, Why do you keep talking of FSU's D? As if it is the measuring stick of great D's? After FSu lost to VT in the ACC champ game in 2010, and 40 dropped on the beloved D, i have no idea why they got so much hype. The same goes for next yr. Yes they have talent, but why would things be different? That talent obviously hasn't gelled? Clemson and VT will have much better D's in my opinion.. Jesus, VT had three starters injured and held Michigan to 189 yards all game. Next yr, they will be even better.... Its not just consistency with VT its player development (play calling is our downfall) and Clemson has WAY more talent than FSU. Why does ESPN love FSU soo much?
HD: I keep talking about it, Chris, because the Noles probably wouldn't have won their last three games, and because they're No. 2 in the country in rushing defense, No. 6 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense. Wow. You're right about the Hokies' ability to develop players, and their defense was outstanding this year. I do agree, though, that FSU has to earn the hype this year, at least when it comes to a national perspective. As for within the walls of the ACC, there's no reason not to consider the Noles a front-runner for the division again.
Andrew in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Heather, the ACC is a close 2nd to the SEC in NFL draft picks the last 5 years, but our BCS records could not be more far apart. What gives, sounds like a coaching issue to me.
HD: I think it's a combination of things, Andrew. A lot of the guys who are getting drafted are defenders and linemen. There have been some talented skill-position players, no doubt, but the ACC's best chance at a Heisman quarterback in recent years was playing for Wisconsin this year. Sure, there's been Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers, a few standouts, but I think that's one aspect of it. Coaching turnover is another, and so is a lack of player development. I don't think you can pinpoint it only on coaching.
Wayne in Richmond, Va., writes: It seems your posts have irritated many ACC fans in regards to the BCS games. However I think they were fair given the circumstances. At the beginning of the season, FSU was to be the ACC flag bearer, but it seems it was maybe a year short. The ACC did not deserve 1 team in the BCS, much less two. With that said, how will this effect next year? VT, Clemson and FSU should all be very strong next year with their returning players. Plus add in capable GT, Virginia, North Carolina and NCST, the conference could be as strong as its been over the past decade. BC, Maryland, Duke and Miami (with coming sanctions) will look to get better, but with the better teams only getting experienced, next year may be the year when the BCS should ACTUALLY take 2 ACC teams. What are your thoughts?
HD: Believe it or not I try to be fair, Wayne, and you bring up a great point. The Orange Bowl officials don't have any choice in the matter, but if I'm a BCS bowl rep, I would be leery of choosing an at-large ACC team at this point unless it was so good it was a no-brainer. I can tell you this, though: If two ACC teams ARE deserving of it next year, I have no problem in making the case for it.
Dennis in Lancaster, S.C., writes: Hi Heather, do you think its time for Clemson to have a "defensive overhaul"? Surely they cant expect the offense to come into every game and score 40+ points just to have a shot at winning a game. Is Kevin Steele's time up? It seems that Clemson is always lopsided in defense/offense perfomance, while one maybe great the other gets a beating.
HD: There's no question Clemson needs to make drastic defensive improvements if it wants to repeat as ACC champs, but I got no indication from Dabo Swinney after the Orange Bowl that Steele's time is up. I flat-out asked Dabo about Steele getting fired, and he pretty much just laughed it off as a ridiculous notion.