Inside The ACC: Tuesday Twitter Roundup

Dick Vitale is probably not who comes to mind when fans think of an analyst who gives sage advice or brings a level head to controversy in college sports, but in this case “Dickie V” probably hit the nail on the head. In the pre-BCS days there was always a contingent of fans or a school that felt they were wronged in the polls, and perhaps they were. During the BCS era the computer seemed to always come up a percentage short, to someones disadvantage. And now in the era of the four team playoff format schools like Baylor and TCU felt like they came out on the short end of the stick to bigger programs, namely Ohio State.

The system would no doubt be improved with eight teams, but the debate would still rage on. WIth so many teams and variables, such as conference and schedule strength, there will never be a cut-and-dry system like in pro sports. Someone will always feel they made a better case than the school ahead of them, and the fans will shout it from the rooftop. And isn’t the feverish debate part of what makes college football fun, and unique, even compared to it’s NCAA basketball counterpart?

The ACC is sending 11 schools to bowl games this year, many of  which are of the 6-6 or 7-5 variety. While this may not jump off the page as an impressive mark for a major conference, the ACC’s knack for winning big non-conference games remained intact this year. Two of the school’s on the lower end of the ACC, Boston College (7-5) and Virginia Tech (6-6) claimed two of the conferences non-conference wins this year. The Eagles beat a 9th ranked USC Trojans side at home, and the Hokies knocked off then number 5 Ohio State in Columbus early in the season, a loss that nearly kept the Buckeyes out of the college football playoff. The ACC may not enjoy parity through the conference, but their statement wins out of conference gives merit to their 11 bowl berths.

After being left off the All-ACC first team last week, Virginia freshman Quin Blanding is starting to get his due this post season. Blanding was picked as a second team All-ACC player, named ACC defensive rookie of the year and now picked by ESPN for their freshman All-American team.

The 6’4″, 215 pound safety had one of the best freshman seasons for a defensive back in recent ACC memory, but didn’t gain national recognition for much of the season. This was due in part to the Cavaliers 5-7 record, and also the play of established defensive back, senior Anthony Harris. However, it was Blanding who lead Virginia in tackles with an impressive 123, while adding three interceptions and a sack. Next season, out from the shadow of Harris, Blanding should really begin to emerge as one of the nations top safeties, and first team All-ACC appearances should follow.

Making the ESPN freshman All-American team deservedly highlights the great season young Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya had. Entering camp the Hurricanes didn’t know who their starting quarterback would be, and not only did Kaaya win the job, but excelled at it for much of the season. The freshman showed tools that many senior signal callers would envy, a great pocket presence, and excellent decision making, especially on the move.

Kaaya completed 202 passes this season for 2,962 yards, and turned in a solid touchdown to interception ratio (25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions). Kaaya guided the Hurricanes to a 6-6 record and a berth in the Independence Bowl December 27th against South Carolina, although the team dropped their final three games under Kaaya, sinking their loftier bowl expectations. Still, head coach Al Golden has found his quarterback, and the future looks bright in Miami.

The rumor circulating the water cooler last week was Duke head coach David Cutcliffe packing up and heading north to Michigan, a rumor that is now dead. Initially it was reported that Cutcliffe turned down the offer, and later it was changed to a case of much ado about nothing. No one knows if there was an offer, or even a conversation, but in any event remaining at the helm of the Blue Devils is the best case scenario for Cutcliffe.

At 60, Cutcliffe has built quite a legacy for himself. He was Peyton Manning’s coordinator at Tennessee, and has embarked on a pair of reclamation projects at Ole Miss and Duke. Cutcliffe took over a dumpster fire at Duke left behind by their previous two coaches, Carl Franks and Ted Roof and has transformed the Blue Devils into a consistent program in the ACC. Duke finished this season 9-3 and will be headed to their third straight bowl appearance (Sun Bowl) under Cutcliffe. Duke seems like an ideal place for Cutcliffe to ride off into the Durham sunset as a folk hero, rather than exiting as another villain at Michigan.

Follow me on Twitter @GQuintero_84  and Inside the ACC on Facebook.

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