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ACC Media Days takeaways: Move over SEC, a new league is atop CFB

MORE ACC MEDIA DAYS: Thursday's takeaways | Clemson-FSU heats up

CHARLOTTE – The collective chest thumping that started on day No. 1 of the ACC Kickoff rolled into Friday without so much as a stop for gas.

It could be heard loud and clear from Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge or Gainesville. On Friday, even the leagues bottom-dwellers got in on the action. Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall led off the day by calling the league “the best league in college football.” His star defensive back followed that up by throwing himself on the praise dog pile.

“It's ACC and that's the bottom line,” said UVA safety Quin Blanding. “A lot of people don't give credit to the ACC. We're offense and defense-wise. I know we have a lot of people coming back on the defensive side, but the ACC is where it's at.”

And that was just the day’s first 15 minutes.

Despite the fact that the coaches and players featured on Friday are all members of the Coastal Division, which is widely (and accurately) thought to be the league’s weaker side, the conference pride theme remained at the forefront throughout the afternoon. The day featured SEC levels of self-congratulation.

“Everyone sees what we do and how we produce,” Blanding said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in a bowl game or the national championship or just playing each other. You see what we do. You see how hard we go. You don’t get that anywhere else but here. That’s the bottom line.”

Richt breaks down QB situation

Mark Richt
Mark Richt (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Miami head coach Mark Richt showed up to ACC Media Day without many answers on the quarterback front. He did however bring a loose timetable for naming a starter.

“If I had to guess, at the latest, I hope to know after our second scrimmage,” Richt said. “And now I just said it publicly, so everyone is going to be like ‘what’s the deal?’ I just hope to know because, eventually, you have to get your game plan started.”

By now, the four names being tossed around as possibilities are familiar. Veterans Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs join freshman N'Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon in the battle for the top spot. And while Richt said he’s “very comfortable with both” returning options, the newcomers will have every chance to seize the moment.

“Both of those (freshmen) move well and throw well,” Richt said. “They’re smart and tough … at least they were in high school. We’ll see when we start practicing. I want to see who can handle the pressure.”

Former five-star looks like Pitt's starting QB

Max Browne
Max Browne (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Max Browne arrived at Pitt with significantly less fanfare than he brought to USC as a five-star recruit in 2013, but it seems as though he’ll have a chance to live up to his high school hype this fall. On Friday morning, coach Pat Narduzzi said that Browne sits atop the depth chart by a small margin heading into fall camp. Despite Narduzzi’s best attempts at selling a fall quarterback competition, all indications are that Browne will start the season in the field for the Panthers. When that takes place, fans may see a different form of Browne than the touted, blue chip recruit warming the bench at USC.

First off – forget the mental part of it – his body has changed a lot,” Narduzzi said of Browne. “He came in and looked a little skinny, like they didn’t do much lifting as quarterbacks out at Southern Cal. I walked in last time, he had his shirt off and he just looked so much bigger. He’s going to be a more physical guy, and I think it will help his arm strength as well.”

Hope springs eternal … sometimes

Duke and Virginia both went 1-7 in conference play a year ago. The two teams addressed the media in back-to-back sessions on Friday. And while the records were similar, the rhetoric was miles different.

Mendehall and his players danced around questions concerning what would constitute a successful season at Virginia. The second-year UVA head coach declined to name a timetable for when his program might start to turn the corner and mentioned that he “relishes that and cherishes” seeing his team warm up correctly.

His don’t-get-your-hopes-up vibe stood in start contrast to that of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. His attitude? Bring on the expectations

“I believe in my heart of hearts, this team is the deepest, most talented team we've had at Duke yet,” said Cutcliffe, who won 10 games at the school in 2013.

Quotable

“The jacket is actually a velvet double-breasted jacket. The color is bronze, actually. It looks brown to me, so I say it's brown, but the correct term is bronze, and the glasses actually flip up.” Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips explaining his flashy ensemble


“I’ll behave. I can behave. Sometimes, there’s a method to the things I do.” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi on the new rule mandating a 15-yard penalty for coaches coming onto the field to dispute a call


“It’s an opportunity for revenge.” Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips on Pitt’s 2017 game against Clemson


“I usually have to have some help to sleep at night.” – North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora on the anxiety that comes with being a head coach