ACC Football Kickoff countdown: No. 4

On Saturday, our planes take off for Greensboro, N.C., the site of this year’s ACC Football Kickoff, where members of the media meet with players and coaches for two days of interviews. In order to help us get to the unofficial start of the season, we’re counting down 10 of the most interesting storylines in the ACC this fall. Today we head to Coral Gables …

No. 4: What is happening at Miami?

On paper, Miami looks good enough to win the Coastal Division. In reality, it won’t matter how good this year’s roster is if the NCAA deems the program ineligible to compete in the postseason again. For more than two years, Miami has been waiting for closure to the highly publicized investigation. It’s been so long that ACC commissioner John Swofford has said the sheer length of this investigation has been punishment enough. The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions met with university officials on June 14, and the COI typically releases its report six-to-eight weeks after the hearing. There’s no guarantee, though, that Miami will learn its fate by then, as university officials haven’t been given any timetable. Meanwhile, coach Al Golden continues to recruit through self-imposed scholarship reductions and uncertainty, and returns 19 starters – including a veteran quarterback in Stephen Morris, the ACC’s Rookie of the Year in Duke Johnson, and every starting offensive and defensive lineman from 2012. Miami is working its way back, but will the NCAA investigation push the program backwards again?

The countdown:

  • No. 10: Can Duke get back to a bowl game?

  • No. 9: Can UNC earn a real ring?

  • No. 8: How will the new quarterbacks fare?

  • No. 7: Can the ACC match its off-field success on the field this fall?

  • No. 6: How will Pitt and Cuse factor into the race?

  • No. 5: How will three new head coaches fare?