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Kynes’ Korner: ACC crossroads

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This is the Most Important Week 1 in ACC History.

Talks of conference realignment have dominated the media landscape for the better part of the summer. Rumors about realignment have been all over the news. Every day a new vote seems to take place, and images of Blake James holding court with a former president and secretary of state become more and more real.

However, other than the TV deals, the most important factor in this whole process is on-field success. With the ACC lagging behind the other power conferences, success this year is pivotal if the conference is going to maintain its relevance among the nation’s elite. Week 1 provides an excellent opportunity for the ACC to showcase its depth and talent. With a few games against SEC opponents, some key intra-conference matchups, and a handful of (unfortunately) toss-up cupcake games week 1 of the CFB season has massive implications for the future of the conference.

I will rank these matchups from least important to most — and maybe even make some picks while I’m at it.

Virginia Tech vs Old Dominion

9/2 @ 8:00 PM on ACCN

If you have followed the Tech program for the last few years you understand the importance of this one. If not, I’ll fill you in: The Hokies have really struggled with ODU. VT splitting the last 4 games in the series dating back to 2017 is unacceptable. What is supposed to be the best program in such a proud football state should not be losing to Old Dominion once, and certainly not twice.

Last year VT traveled to Norfolk and blew a fourth-quarter lead. This year, I would expect second year coach Brent Pry to try and run up the score in Lane Stadium, potentially sending a message to recruits in the state of Virginia that the Hokies should not be messed with. Another bad loss would not only be devastating to the VT program, but would continue to hurt the ACC’s claim as a legitimate power conference.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35 – 10 Old Dominion

Virginia vs. #12 Tennessee

9/2 @ 12:00 PM on ABC

*Game will be played in Nissan Stadium in Nashville*

Simply put, Virginia has no chance. A bad ‘Hoos team rolling into Nashville for what is practically a home game for a program coming off its best season in two decades is disastrous. However, if by some grace of God UVA is able to hang around and at least give us a competitive half of football, the ACC would benefit greatly.

A national audience on ABC will be tuned in to watch the Vols, but a good fight from Virginia that does not totally embarrass the rest of the conference would be nice.

Prediction: Tennessee 45 – 14 Virginia.

Georgia Tech vs Louisville

9/1 @ 7:30 PM on ESPN

*Game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta*

This game really interests me. Maybe I’m just a sicko ACC fan or maybe I just like watching ball at a bar in Southie on a Friday night, but this game could have a huge impact on the national attitude towards the ACC this year. These programs don’t fit the description of a “sleeping giant”, but I can’t think of something that’s smaller than a giant but still big so I’m rolling with it.

These sleeping giants with passionate fan bases in crucial markets are both at the beginning of new eras. Brent Key is looking to build some momentum for the Yellow Jackets as they still recover from both the years of the triple option and a Geoff Collins disasterclass. Louisville ushers in the Jeff Brohm era. I was recently in Louisville and I had multiple people tell me that there is a “very high” chance that the Cards make the playoffs within three years. I don’t buy that for a second, but Brohm had success at Purdue and could certainly make some waves at his alma mater. That being said, what I’m looking for here is a good game that is not lopsided but also that is played clean. If the game is close but sloppy, that does us no good.

2The best outcome is a good fight from GT for three and a half quarters then for Lousiville to pull away. UofL could win 9+ games so I would hate to see that spoiled week 1 in ATL.

Prediction: Louisville 35 – 24 Georgia Tech. O’Sheas in Lou will be bumping. IYKYK.

Duke vs. #9 Clemson

9/4 @ 8:00 PM on ESPN

Duke was one of the best stories in CFB last year, reaching nine wins. However, the biggest game of the Blue Devils season is easily this week 1 matchup with the Tigers. Although Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham is not the hardest place to play, I expect that the environment will probably be the most electric it has been in program history.

With that said, electric environments are not exactly the thing that scares Dabo & the Tigers. Cade Klubnik is an absolute stud and Will Shipley will lead the ACC in rushing. Garrett Riley from TCU is calling plays for Clemson, and the defense is once again loaded. I don’t think Duke will be able to pull this one out, but I do think that they can keep it close at home. This standalone game on Labor Day will be a good spotlight for Duke and if they can keep it close they will gain the respect of a national media that is very high on Clemson this season.

Prediction: Clemson 31 – 17 Duke

#21 North Carolina vs. South Carolina

9/2 @ 7:30 PM on ABC

*Game will be played in BofA Stadium in Charlotte*

This is going to be an incredible game. South Carolina is a trendy pick to finish second in the SEC East, and Shane Beamer is looking every bit as good as his pops was at VT. Although they are starting the season unranked, the ‘Cocks played their best ball of last year in their biggest games: doubling up Tennessee and knocking off Clemson in an emotional Palmetto Bowl. On the North Carolina side, Drake Maye will be looking to start his Heisman campaign off with a bang. A win here for either side will set the tone for what could be a special season for either program.

Add in incredibly passionate fanbases, recruiting territory, and bragging rights and this game instantly becomes one of the most exciting games of the season. This is a matchup that should be played every year. A Tar Heels win sets up the ACC nicely with another top 15 team most likely and the chance to have a real title race for the first time in years.

Prediction: UNC 38-34 South Carolina

#8 Florida State vs. #5 LSU

9/3 @ 7:30 on ABC

*Game will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando*

This game is a rematch from last year that brought the excitement on the Sunday before Labor Day. However, as exciting as last year’s game was, this game undoubtedly means much more. With both teams inside the top 10, the winner of this game sets themselves up for a playoff bid. I believe that the winner of this game will go to the playoffs, while the loser will be forced to win out in order to make the dance. If you know anything about me you’d know that this fact pains me a great deal. My ideal scenario is that the game ends in a 0-0 tie. But that is impossible and one of these teams that I despise so much will be propelled to the playoff by the end of the night. The game is basically a home game for FSU, so the ‘Noles fans will be out in full force. Little do they know that the real test will come week 3 in Chestnut Hill.

Prediction: Florida State 28 – 24 LSU

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Football

Boston College Football Recruiting Board: Class of 2026

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Welcome to our Class of 2026 recruiting board for Boston College football.

Every player is a 3-star unless stated otherwise.

June 24 (2024): QB Corin Berry
The Eagles picked up their quarterback for the Class of ’26, as BC picks up a massive recruit out of California — also the Eagles’ second quarterback commit in the past week. Berry stands at an athletic 6-foot-3 frame with a powerful arm and he chose the Eagles over an offer from Arkansas. Berry threw for over 2,000 yards as a sophomore starter this season for Charter Oak High in California.

March 3 (2024): OL Marcelino Antunes Jr.
Antunes Jr. out of Catholic Memorial is the first commit in the Class of ’26, as the 6-foot-7, 285-pound offensive lineman ranked as a top-50 ’26 lineman in the country committed to the Eagles before his sophomore year concluded. He’s ranked as the No. 2 ’26 player in Mass.

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Football

Boston College Football Recruiting Board: Class of 2025

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Welcome to our Class of 2025 recruiting board for Boston College. Every player is a 3-star unless stated otherwise.

The Eagles currently rank as the 38th best recruiting class in the country.

June 24: WR Dawson Pough
The Eagles land their third wide receiver of the class, as Pough plays both sides of the ball but is recruited as a wideout. The 6-foot-1 wideout had offers from several Power-4s and a number of G5s. He’s a top-30 rated recruit in teh state of Virginia out of Leesburg.

June 23: CB Charleston Coldon
The 6-foot-1 defensive back out of Belleville, Illinois had several other Power-4 offers and visited just two days ago. His brother, CJ Coldon, played at Wyoming as well as Oklahoma as this is the seventh defensive back in this class.

June 19: CB Ashton Cunningham
A smaller-sized — 5-foot-11, 155-pounder, Cunningham is a top-100 corner out of Oklahoma. He’s teammates with Shaker Reisig, who flipped from Utah to BC the day prior.

June 18: QB Shaker Reisig
Some big news came out of Oklahoma this week as Reisig, a top-50 QB in the country flipped his commitment from Utah to the Eagles. Reisig is a 6-foot, 200-pound passer who is regarded as an accurate passer who threw for 2,366 yards along with a completion percentage above 75% in his junior season — and is overall a good get for the Eagles.

June 16: LB Zacari Thomas
Thomas is a 6-foot-2 linebacker from Gray, Georgia. He had a couple of Power-4 offers but after visiting BC the week prior Thomas announced his commitment.

June 16: CB Njita Sinkala
The 5-foot-11 corner in Sinkala is a top-15 player from Connecticut and held offers from schools mainly on the East Coast, but committed to BC just two days after his visit.

June 15: EDGE Israel Oladipupo
Oladipupo is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound edge rusher from Indiana that had interest largely from the MAC as well as a few other Power-4 schools — totaling 16 offers. It’s BC’s first edge rusher in the 2025 high school class, and he ranks in the top-75 in the country at his position.

June 13: OL Robert Smith
A 6-foot-4, 290-pound inside offensive lineman out of Cleveland, Smith was one of several to commit after their June 7 visit to the Eagles. Cincinnati was his only other Power-4 offer.

June 11: S Rae Sykes Jr.
A 6-foot-2 safety out of Rome, Georgia, Sykes visited BC four days prior to his commitment. He had Power-4 interest as well as in-state interest at Georgia State, but ended up choosing the Eagles.

June 11: S Omarion Davis
One of two safeties to commit on June 11th, Davis is a top-25 recruit in the state of South Carolina and just outside of a top-100 country-wide safety ranking. Georgia Tech was his only other Power-4 offer.

June 9: WR Semaj Fleming
Fleming is a speedy 5-foot-10 receiver that has had a good ordeal of success in track and field. Out of Orlando, Florida, Fleming is BC’s second recruit out of Florida and held several SEC offers.

June 3: S Marcelous Townsend
A 5-foot-11 athlete out of Georgia, BC was Townsend’s only Power-4 offer despite going on a visit to Michigan as the Eagles have picked up two players from Roswell on the same day.

June 3: ATH Bryce Lewis
A 6-foot-6 athlete out of Roswell, Georgia, the two-way player in Lewis is a top-100 player in the state of Georgia and is the son of Boston College defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. Lewis had several Power-4 offers though committed four days after his visit to Boston College.

May 3: RB Mekhi Dodd
The Eagles retain a tailback from the state of Mass., Dodd is another top-5 player from Massachussetts and a top-100 runningback in the country. The 6-foot tailback out of Catholic Memorial missed part of the 2023 season but is ranked well despite only having one other offer from UMass.

April 15: DL Micah Amedee
Amedee attends Xaverian Brothers and is a top-5 player from the state of MA, though BC being his only Power-4 offer. He committed over a month before his visit as the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder is ranked as a top-100 defensive lineman in the country.

April 15: ATH TJ Green
The 5-foot-11 receiver out of Ohio had over 1,000 yards last season in his junior campaign as well as some solid numbers defensively. He’s a speedy asset that has potential to play on either side of the ball.

March 12: WR Nedrick Boldin
The 5-foot-11 receiver is one of the Eagles’ earlier commitments in the class and had plenty of Power-4 interest out of Palm Beach, FL. He is a quick runner that also cometes in track & field.

March 11: ATH Griffin Collins

A top-5 player out of MA, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound athlete commits out of Worcester Academy as he’s the second player in the class to commit. Collins plays both tight end and linebacker.

December 2 (2023): RB Nolan James

James had plenty of Power-4 interest but the DePaul Catholic (NJ) tailback chose to be the Eagles’ first member of the Class of ’25. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound tailback ran for over 1400 yards in his junior season.

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DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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