Friday mailblog

Back to "normal" without a top 10 matchup this week ...

Richard Moore in Clemson, SC writes: Where do you think the best atmospheres in ACC football are? I went to Tallahassee for the Clemson, FSU game and it was trashy and actually rather quiet. I found Duke a few years ago quiet (obviously) but actually very nice.

HD: Well, it depends what you're looking for. If you want the closest thing you're going to get to an SEC game, Clemson and/or Florida State for big games is probably your best bet. If you're looking for an overall best game atmosphere, Virginia Tech on a Thursday night is probably it. If you're looking for a beautiful Saturday on a campus with the kids, Charlottesville and North Carolina top my list.

Matthew Bradley in Soddy Daisy, TN writes: Al Golden is building something down in Miami, Heather. Not only is he in the process of building a nationally relevant college football team, but he is building a family atmosphere as well. That is probably one of the most touching pictures I have seen in college football in recent memory. Parents want their kids to be safe and sound in an institution. I think this deserves some credit. Thanks for your blogs, you do a great job.

HD: You don't see that too often. You're right, it deserves some credit.

Allan in Aiken, SC writes: After seeing the coming of age piece about EJ Manuel that goes on to describe how his break through came against Clemson, it reminds me of the Auburn game against Clemson where a realitive nobody named Cam Newton broke through to the national spotlight. As a Clemson fan who appreciates the quality competition we bring to a game, other team and players riding off into the sunset on a high note at our expense is really frustrating, when will we ever be the team that makes that statement instead of a stepping stone to the top ten and BCS glory?

HD: Rest assured, Allan, it won't be long. Clemson isn't that far away. It could be a BCS bowl team this year, and it could be a national title contender in 2013. The pieces are certainly in place. The staff, the recruiting -- Dabo Swinney has everything he needs to win a national title. It's easier said than done, but it's definitely within reach now. The missing piece is the defense. If and when Brent Venables turns that thing around, look out.

Justin Brown in Lynchburg Va., writes: I keep seeing all these things about Georgia Tech's offense being to stubborn for its own good, but what about the defense? We don't seem to have the players capable of pressuring any quaterback we face nor do we seem to have the speed needed to run the 3-4. Is the defense Tech's weakest link?

HD: I agree that getting pressure on the quarterback was a big problem against Miami. Al Groh would agree, too. I might argue, though, that special teams was equally as troublesome last year. I still think it's a little too early to tell, but if it doesn't show some significant progress through the rest of the season, I think Groh could be in trouble.

Rod Bosco in Vienna, Va., writes: ND will become the 15th official football member when the team and league agree to a 7-game conference schedule. That leaves room for 1 more team. IMO, the ACC is best served by having that team come from PA. You need to link the region from DC to Boston. UConn and Rutgers are not good fits, and NYC is mostly pro sports oriented. That leaves Philly. My choices: (1) PSU, (2) Nova. Once the lawsuits are settled, the ACC can come in on the white horse and save PSU. Or, the ACC can help Nova expand PPL Park to 30k (although I believe the current 18k capacity is above the minimum for FBS). Note that at 30k Nova would be comparable to WF and Duke. thoughts?

HD: I see your point, but if and when Notre Dame joins the ACC fully in football, Navy will get my vote for the next team in. The ACC wouldn't have to worry about academics, Maryland-Navy would be revived, Notre Dame-Navy would stay intact, and the league wouldn't have to worry about academics. I love it. I say goferit.