There is plenty of work to be done in the ACC this offseason, and the good news is that there’s ample time to get things done and get better. One thing that needs to happen in this conference is the resolution of any and all NCAA investigations, but that is out of the league’s hands. Not even North Carolina officials are sure when they’ll get some closure from the NCAA, and considering how long it took the Tar Heels to go through the process, it could be slow going at Miami. There are plenty of on-field priorities, though, that should be at the top of the ACC’s to-do list this year:
1. Make quick, smooth coaching transitions. Coaching turnover has been at the heart of the ACC’s problems, and while there was only one head-coaching change this offseason -- at North Carolina -- there were several hires at the coordinator level. Maryland replaced both its offensive and defensive coordinators, Clemson hired a new defensive coordinator, and Boston College hired a new offensive coordinator. Those programs will need to adjust and adapt quickly to new schemes, terminology and philosophies this offseason, and unfortunately for all of them, it won’t be the first time.
2. Take another step forward at quarterback. This could be a breakout season for several ACC quarterback. Last year, the league was very young at the position, as at least half the league had first-year starters and Miami’s Jacory Harris was the lone senior in the group. This year, players like NC State’s Mike Glennon, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and UNC’s Bryn Renner have a chance to separate themselves from the pack. As the ACC quarterbacks improve, so will the entire conference.
3. Find new stars. The ACC will miss its 2011 Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. Who will be the 2012 version of NC State’s David Amerson? Miami must replace eight starters from last year’s roster, and North Carolina once again produced some of the league’s top NFL-bound talent on defense in Quinton Coples and Zach Brown. Heading into 2012, the league seems to lack an identity, a face who represents the league and is a national household name. The offseason is the foundation for that development.
4. Forget the past and ignore the hype. The ACC had a miserable bowl season. Everyone always talks about how you're remembered for your last game. Yeah, well, the ACC needs to try to forget it, forget that talk about momentum or lack thereof and focus on the future. Get the young players excited and ready to play, and concentrate on fundamentals and execution. Teams like Florida State and Virginia Tech -- and to an extent Clemson -- also need to ignore the hype and pay no attention to where they're picked in the preseason polls. If this past season taught us anything, it's that where you start has no bearing on where you finish. Clemson was unranked. Florida State seemed untouchable. Everyone needs to get better.