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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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DiMauro: The buzzkillers who run Boston College

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My favorite English professor at Boston College, the late, great Dr. John J. Fitzgerald, loved the writings of Alexander Pope, poet and satirist during the Enlightenment Era. I shall now take pleasure in taking what I learned in class at BC to deliver an overdue lecture to university leadership, badly in need of its own Enlightenment Era.

What transpired this past Saturday, during an otherwise anticipated and eventful day on campus, illustrated BC leadership’s dizzying levels of obtuseness. Instead of celebrating the spring football game (with actual buzz because of new coach Bill O’Brien), baseball game against a nationally ranked opponent, national championship hockey game and the ALC Showdown, celebrating BC’s 17 different dance teams, BC students were issued a missive:

“Good evening Mod residents,” wrote Mike Sanzio, Interim Resident Director of the Mods, “as you saw earlier today from the Dean of Students Office, our men’s ice hockey team will be competing in the national championship game Saturday night. 

“This will be a busy weekend, filled with events such as the ALC showdown and spring football game. This is an exciting time for your community and I wanted to remind you of Mod-specific policies so we can appropriately celebrate these occasions. No outside gatherings are permitted in the Mods. Alcohol is not permitted outside your Mod.”

Some attendees of the spring game saw several “alcohol compliance supervisor” jackets from the commandos hired to patrol the parking lots. 

Sanzio got thrown down a flight of stairs by BC loyalists on X (formerly known as Twitter). I’m guessing Sanzio was just doing his job, carrying out orders from above. You’ve heard the “towers on the Heights reach the Heav’ns own blue?” This was from the ivory towers on the Heights. 

BC’s buzzkill rules and regulations hearken a line once written by Raymond Chandler: “The tragedy of life is not that things die. The tragedy is that they grow old and mean.” That’s the tenor of BC right now: old and mean. 

Can someone explain why Mods dwellers – most of whom are 21, by the way – were issued something so puritanical on what should have been a fun day? Do the people who run BC understand the power of sports on campus? This just in: Kids derive strength and appreciation for their school through campus events designed to cultivate pride and senses of “we” and “us.” It’s more important than ever today in a society too busy texting to notice anything or anyone else.

The Mods are a campus institution. The last time ESPN’s College GameDay was on campus, Lee Corso uttered the now classic, “party in the Modes!” line, mistaking “Mods” for “Modes.” It’s unlikely he came with that on his own. Somebody probably whispered in his ear at some point that the Mods are central to the BC student experience.

And then we get “no outside gatherings” and “alcohol compliance supervisors.” Overkill, anyone? If a kid gets caught hiding a Heineken, what’s the penalty these days? Firing squad at dawn?

And to think that O’Brien spent ample time last week trying to fire up the students to attend the spring game. Then the administration betrays him by issuing antisocial missives during what should be the most social day of the year on campus.

Is there a good reason – Puritanism aside – that tailgating isn’t allowed for the spring game? Someone tell the BC administration that Ohio State drew 80,000 for its spring game. Imagine passing the edict out there that Buckeye fans couldn’t tailgate?

I get that the missions of BC and Ohio State aren’t the same. But then, they are both in power conferences. It’s just that only one acts that way.

The worst thing that happened Saturday at BC was not that the hockey team lost. The worst thing was O’Brien learning what life is really like at The University of Austerity: A spring game with buzz. A national championship game at night. And an administration petrified of its own success.

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 on X.

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Joe Griffin enters transfer portal

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Boston College wide receiver Joe Griffin has announced his decision to enter the transfer portal. The news comes a day before the Eagles were set for their spring game which will take place tomorrow, 12pm, at Alumni Stadium.

With leading receiver Lewis Bond still in the fold, along with transfers Jerand Bradley from Texas Tech and Jayden McGowan out of Vanderbilt, the depth chart has seemingly been beefed up surpassing Griffin the opportunity for ideal playing time.

As a freshman, the Springfield, Ma product showed a lot of promise, catching 18 passes for 234 yard and five touchdowns. His five scores were good for second on the team. His sophomore campaign did not see an uptick in production, as his registered a slightly better 25 catches for 345 yards and a lone touchdown.

The former 4-star local recruit will now be on the lookout for a new home.

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Rider: A breath of fresh air

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Over the last 15 seasons of Boston College football, fans have come into each year with a simple hope. One where the team would finally eclipse the 7-win mark. For a magnitude of different reasons, they have not been able to do so.

Steve Addazio could not shake the number seven during his tenure, gaining the moniker “Seven win Steve” due to his almost perpetual 7-6 record as head coach, something he accomplished in five of his total, you guessed it, seven seasons at the helm.

The 2018 was the peak of Addazio’s success in Chestnut Hill as the team reached 7-2, a place in the AP poll and College Game Day made its way to the Heights. Bottoming out losing their final three games on top of a freak-of-nature bowl cancellation left the seven-win mark intact. The following year, 2019, was the end of the Addazio era. Despite a season-ending win that granted the Eagles bowl-elligibility, the Eagles fied

This is where Jeff Hafley entered the fold. With all the pomp and circumstance, excitement exploded from through the Yawkey Athletic Center ceiling, as Hafley birthed a catchphrase the program would rally behind, “Get In.”

With any coaching change, roster turnover is to be expected. Pair that with the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world at its core, and face of the program A.J. Dillon departing for the NFL. Despite this, the BC community was sold on the new head coach. After Hafley laid out his vision for the school in his introductory press conference, then proceeded to navigate through adversity of the inaugural 2020 campaign. Hafley’s inaugural season was deemed highly successful with their 6-5 record.

“And we’ll be sitting up here we’ll be talking about a lot of great things because in all honesty, I want to compete and I want to win, I want to get better and I want this to be a top 25 program. That’s real, that’s the truth, and it can be.” Hafley continued with his vision,. “I want there to be magical moments and magical seasons, like you guys have seen with Doug and Matt. We need to bring back those magical moments to the heights. That’s why I’m here.”

Similarly to his predecessor, Hafley was unable to bring BC to the next level. Although he had the Eagles at Bowl eligibility in three of his four seasons, he subsequently won six games in each of those seasons. It seems that not only was he not fulfilling the expectations to raise the program, they seemed to have taken a small step back. Hafley’s tenure was mired with frustration, inadequacy, and disappointment in living up to the lofty expectations set by the fanbase. It ultimately was the inability to see the vision materialize, or even give a sense of a palpable path leading towards it in four seasons.

This brings us to the present day of Boston College football and the state of the team, and expectations are once again high and hopeful.

With newly minted head coach Bill O’Brien set to roam the Alumni Stadium sidelines there is a lot to like with this marriage. At the time of this writing, there have been no reports of a mass exodus for the current roster. It seems as though O’Brien will have a majority of the team intact for his initial season. That includes stand-out quarterback Thomas Castellanos, who announced via his Instagram “We staying” allowing BC fans and alumni worldwide to breathe a side of relief.

It cannot be understated just how important it is to get the majority of the team to buy back in, and accept new leadership — especially in this day and age in college football where the transfer portal is prevalent. Boston College administration knew what they had to do to keep the fallout form Hafley’s departure to a minimum, and the quality hire of O’Brien does just that. It instantly allows BC to keep their momentum off their bowl win in December and look to elevate, not rebuild.

Simply put, Hafley was coaching for his job this upcoming season. With the likes of a much more difficult schedule in ’24, the doubt was valid. BC has the likes of a trip to Florida State to open the year, Mizzou, and a Fenway Bowl rematch down in Dallas with SMU. Michigan State is also set to come to Chestnut Hill. This is a stark contrast to the 2023 schedule, which most pundits agreed was one of if not the easiest in FBS. Going from a guy who was coaching for his preverbal life, and in a corner alone, to a guy whose track record speaks for itself and has the backing of an entire community.

O’Brien has already instilled more juice and buzz into the program than any player, coach, or moment has since Lane Stadium went quiet in 2007.

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