Camp has officially begun. Let's get to it:
Phillip McDowell in Jacksonville, FL writes: Hi, Heather -- What has been your impression of NC State's new coach, Dave Doeren? Does he just give you the typical lingo answers to the questions or is there something real behind the face? Tom O'Brien had a very senior-laden team last year that fell short of expectations, and Debbie Yow seems to think Dave has a long haul of rebuilding to do before State is very competitive in the league. What does Doeren have to say about that? Appreciate your ACC coverage. -- Phillip
HD: Thanks, Phillip. I got a chance to sit down with Doeren in Bristol, and I've spoken with him a few times. He doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he is also very confident about his staff's ability to recruit and develop players. I asked him what he thought about his team up front on both sides, and his response was "average." He doesn't seem too thrilled with the numbers he inherited on offense, as far as bodies/scholarships go, so there is definitely some rebuilding to be done, and it will take a while to recruit.
David in Birmingham, AL writes: Any discussion of divisional re-alignment or similar topics at the Football Kickoff? As a GT fan, I would personally like to see a more geographically-sane arrangement, and the idea that FSU will only be coming to BDS once every 12 years is a bit disheartening (if not better for GT's success within the Coastal Division).
HD: Here is Commissioner John Swofford's response to that, as he was asked the exact same question at the Kickoff:
"There's been a lot of discussion about it, and for this reason. Every time we add somebody, it's discussed. So there's been a natural reason to discuss it with some regularity over the last few years. Each time our schools end up basically at the same place where they started. I think any time any league that's 14 or as we are, that is one of the things you lose. You don't see each other quite as often as you would if you were a smaller league.
But for us, the benefits far outweigh that particular fact. We've had discussions about going from eight to nine games. At one point it looked like we were going to go to nine games, and then when the Notre Dame situation arose, our schools decided rather than take that step, they'd rather stay at eight, considering that five of them would be playing Notre Dame each year, and Notre Dame would be rotating through all of our schools.
But there's been a lot of discussion. One of the things that comes up from a competitive standpoint, competitive equity is one of the things that from the very beginning we wanted to try and address, and I don't know the exact numbers at this given point in time, but it's remarkable how close it is division versus division from a competitive standpoint. I mean, it's within a game or two.
So our schools have continued to come back to where they are when they have those discussions. That doesn't mean it couldn't change sometime in the future, but so far those discussions have kept us where we are from a divisional standpoint."
Josh in Atlanta/GA writes: Heather, really enjoy your work and coverage on here. I am glued here every lunch break. I was reading a story on another site about the ClemsonLIFE program and how it affects Boston College's Divitto as well as involves Clemson players, namely Boyd. I think you and the rest of the ACC fan base would enjoy the read as well. Just wanted to bring it to your attention because I believe the effect the program has on ACC players and vice versa is worth the national attention you are capable of bringing to it.
HD: Awesome, Josh, thanks for sharing. I'm sure ACC fans will appreciate that one.
Leslie in West Palm Beach, Fl. writes: How well do you think North Carolina is going to do this year?
HD: I think they're a contender in the Coastal Division. They've obviously got some big shoes to fill, but I think the guys on the offensive line, particularly James Hurst, are pretty darn good. There is still a lot of talent on that roster, and they've got the most important piece - a veteran quarterback returning in Bryn Renner.