Scattershooting behind the scenes in ACC football & quick hitters

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Media Relations

Scattershooting around the ACC, while dealing with a lot of optimism and disappointment at the same time in the college football world.

The optimism is that the ACC and UVA plans to play a 10-plus-one football schedule beginning Sept. 12. Still, because of the 10-game conference schedule in addition to one nonconference game, disappointment abounds.

Virginia fans are disappointed that the Cavaliers’ previously scheduled season opener against Georgia in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been canceled. With the new ACC guidelines, UVA can play one nonconference game, but that game must be played in the state of Virginia.

VMI, which was previously scheduled to play at UVA on Sept. 12, could be the Cavaliers’ opener, should Virginia desire. VMI certainly is pushing for the game to be played, and no wonder. The Keydets would receive a $350,000 paycheck for the visit to Scott Stadium, a nice addition to VMI’s athletic budget.

Keydet head coach Scott Wachenheim, a former UVA offensive line coach under Mike London, said that his program is in somewhat of a protective bubble by being at a military school that adheres to discipline, and that the Keydets would implement whatever protocol is required by the ACC in order to play the game.

The ACC mandates that any nonconference team playing against one of its members must conduct coronavirus testing 72 hours before the game.

There is no word from Virginia at this time about who will be its nonconference opponent.

Certainly Gary Stokan, CEO and president of the Peach Bowl, who put together three Labor Day weekend games involving ACC teams, is disappointed. All three games, UVA-Georgia, Florida State-West Virginia, and North Carolina vs. Auburn, were all canceled.

“We certainly understand the ACC is doing what they feel is in the best interest of the conference and the health of their teams, staff and student-athletes, and as our partners, we support them in that decision,” Stokan said.

“However, we are disappointed we will lose the opportunity to host Florida State, Virginia and North Carolina and their fans in our scheduled Chick-fil-A Kickoff games this season.”

There are also a lot of disappointed fans in both the ACC and SEC after the SEC announced Thursday that it will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule. That decision eliminated four longtime rivalry games: Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, and Louisville-Kentucky.

We believe that ACC commissioner John Swofford got the jump in announcing that his league would play a 10-plus-one schedule, which would allow all four of those rivalry games to be played. If the decision to cancel those games for this season was going to be made, Swofford left it in the hands of the SEC to cancel.

“I was disappointed, but I would quickly add I think that’s the SEC’s decision to make,” Swofford said during an interview on the ACC Network’s Packer and Durham show. “We took a different route as a conference and we were and are very comfortable with that route.

“We took a path that would have allowed those games to happen. So, those rivalry games that you were speaking of are huge in the Southeast and huge in those respective states and really, really big nationally from that standpoint as well. So you hate to see those disrupted.”

The ACC is the only Power Five conference to decide to go with the 10-plus one schedule model thus far. The Big 12 still hasn’t announced what it will do.

Quick hitters

  • South Carolina was the only school in the SEC to vote against a conference-only schedule. The Gamecocks wanted to keep its rivalry intact against Clemson, even though they have lost the last six in a row to the Tigers.
  • In case you’re wondering, Notre Dame’s addition to the ACC football 10-game schedule this season will make things interesting for an Irish team that could be Brian Kelly’s best during his time in South Bend. However, with the one-division setup, the ACC championship game will be played between the two teams with the best winning percentage, meaning that should any games be canceled due to a Covid-19 outbreak, one or more teams could qualify by playing less games than others in the league. Here’s Notre Dame’s obstacle though in terms of possibly reaching the Orange Bowl spot held for the ACC’s top team (excluding the College Football Playoff), or even qualifying for the CFP. The Irish must face Clemson twice, assuming the Tigers will be in the ACC Championship game. Notre Dame hosts Clemson in South Bend during the regular season, then, should the Irish finish in the ACC’s top two, would have to play the Tigers yet again in Charlotte in the league’s championship game.
  • Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton, whose contract expires in April (negotiations are being held), has landed 5-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland, who chose the Seminoles over Kansas, Michigan, Louisville, Purdue and Xavier among others. Cleveland is from Alpharetta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.
  • Former Virginia men’s tennis coach Brian Boland, who led the Cavaliers to national championships in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, has resigned as the men’s head coach at Baylor. Boland had coached the Bears the past two seasons and put them to the NCAA quarterfinals last season.
  • The most recruited football player in Southwest Virginia might move to a high school in neighboring Tennessee after the state of Virginia announced it would move football from this fall to next spring. Ridgeview senior Trenton Adkins told the Kingsport Times-News that he might transfer to Dobyns-Bennett or possibly move to Pikeville, Ky., for his final season. Adkins is being recruited by at least 20 schools including Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Penn State, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Arizona State. Adkins has rushed for more than 6,000 yards and 86 touchdowns during his career.
  • In case you missed it, former UVA lineman Ja’Quay Hubbard, a 4-star redshirt freshman who left the program, has transferred to West Virginia.
  • Part of the ACC deal in including Notre Dame in league play this season was the Irish’ willingness to share its revenue from its home-game telecasts by NBC. Louisville AD Vince Tyra said of the agreement: “I don’t think we would have had much of a conversation if that wasn’t part of the deal.”
  • Apparently, Virginia basketball has reached out to top-75 junior prospect Ben Gregg. Tony Bennett and two of his assistants conducted a virtual meeting with Gregg this week. Gregg is a 4-star power forward and is the Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year, who averaged 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last season. At 6-9, 210,  Gregg is a valued player and has focused on Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Virginia and Gonzaga, although he said he was losing interest in Gonzaga.
  • We are saddened to report that former Virginia basketball player Bernie Floriani has lost his battle with ALS and has passed away.


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