Three questions for 2010

It’s never too early to start thinking about 2010, and as spring football dates start rolling in (I’ll post them once they’re all released), it’s hard not to think about what lies ahead for the conference. Here are three questions that came to mind quickly that once answered will help determine the perception and outcome of the ACC in 2010:

Can Virginia Tech reload on defense?

This is the key to whether or not the Hokies are a legitimate national title contender. Yes, Bud Foster always seems to find a way to reload on defense, but losing six starters will be a true challenge, especially if the Boise State game is moved up to September. The Hokies have to replace three of four up front, two in the secondary and one at linebacker. The competition at outside linebacker to replace Cody Grimm and Cam Martin will be wide open.

Has Randy Shannon’s seat finally gotten warmer?

AD Kirby Hocutt has repeatedly said that he expects Shannon to be Miami’s coach for a long time, yet there’s been no news about any contract extension for Shannon. The past three years have seen progress, but it’s time for Miami to start winning those bowl games and contending for the Coastal Division in late November. It’s Shannon’s fourth year, the foundation for his plan should be set, and youth is no longer an excuse.

How much different will Florida State look under Jimbo Fisher?

Herein lies the key to the Atlantic Division race. Don’t count out Boston College – if you remember, the Eagles beat Florida State last year. But if FSU can put it together on defense, there’s no reason the Noles can’t win the Atlantic Division in Fisher’s first season. The key is how smooth the staff transitions will be, and how quickly FSU can get better on defense.