Hurricanes blow into town on sour note
ACC Media Days will not be as quiet as expected this weekend.
Following the extravaganza that is the illustrious SEC chapter of these annual events, the Atlantic Coast Conference was supposed to focus on league powers Florida State and Clemson, with perhaps a little scandal here and there, but certainly nothing groundbreaking.
Then, another Miami report hit.
A Yahoo! Sports report published Friday pinpoints the Hurricanes for continued non-compliance with NCAA rules regarding the recruitment of multiple Miami-area recruits and the supply of improper benefits to Hurricanes players by a former team equipment manager, Sean Allen. The report states that the use of Allen to bypass NCAA rules began less than one week after coach Al Golden was hired in December 2010 — and that Allen, who was the right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer and booster Nevin Shapiro, did so at the bidding of coaches on Golden's staff.
The implications will weigh heavily over the event in Greensboro, N.C., with most of the questions certainly being aimed at Golden, who likely could not be any less pleased with the timing of the report. In a statement, Golden said he stands behind his history of NCAA compliance, but that will likely be questioned for quite some time during the coach's interview sessions.
"I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of -- and I stand by -- my record of compliance over that span," the statement read. "As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false. I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our university can move forward. Because the process is ongoing, I am unable to address any specifics or answer questions on the matter."
The NCAA probe into Miami's potential violations with Shapiro, which were also uncovered in a previous report from Yahoo! Sports reporter Charles Robinson, is ongoing.
Regardless, expectations are that Golden will have to stand trial this weekend, to publicly deny the allegations. How much he chooses to disclose will be up to his discretion.
So, that's the main storyline to follow. Here are some others:
-- The Other Scandal. The ever-present North Carolina Tar Heels' academics story will take a backseat to the Miami news, but there will be plenty of questions surrounding the recent (albeit redacted) report on athletes cheating on classroom assignments. In the report, names, e-mail addresses and the year were redacted, but it did surround the football program and will continue to be a black eye on the program. How is new coach Larry Fedora dealing with his inherited controversy?
-- Actual football. Clemson started fast last season before collapsing at the end of the season, culminating in a beat-down at the hands of Big East champion West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. Florida State never lived up to the 2011 preseason hype, but once again finds itself in the top-10 entering this fall. Clemson returns plenty of talent, especially on offense with quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Florida State returns even more talent, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, and expectations are that the Seminoles will finally live up to its talent under Jimbo Fisher. How do both teams approach this season differently in order to avoid the pitfalls of the past?
-- Pick me. Pick me. N.C. State cornerback David Amerson set an ACC record for interceptions last season, and many media members will pick the junior for a feature story this week. He's that good, no doubt. But is he the best defensive back in the country? Not according to Tyrann Mathieu, but that's just his own humble opinion.
-- Don't pass on us. Quarterbacks flocked back to the ACC ranks this offseason, and it's an experienced group heading into the fall. Expect plenty of questions surrounding the likes of Florida State's E.J. Manuel, North Carolina's Bryn Renner, Clemson's Boyd, etc. Who will put together the league's best numbers and will it give his team a chance at a BCS berth?