Monday, August 04, 2003

Players report, questions abound

Ahh, life is good again. Clemson's football players report to campus today, and practice begins tomorrow. In honor of that auspicious occasion, the Anderson Independent Mail and The State are asking questions about the upcoming season.

One theme that crops up in both stories is Tommy Bowden's desire to bolster Clemson's running game. Unfortunately, another theme is whether the offensive line is up to the task.

ACC NOT JUST FOR BASKETBALL ANYMORE: Does the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech make the ACC the nation's No. 1 football conference? A lot of people around the league say yes.

SCHEDULING WOES: Speaking of expansion, the ACC muckety-mucks are working on scheduling for the 2004-2005 season. As expected when your league goes to 11, there are going to be problems:

A priority will be given to preserving traditional rivalry games. Regardless of how the divisions would be settled, NCSU and North Carolina will play each season. So will Florida State and Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech and very likely, Georgia Tech and Clemson and Maryland and Virginia.

But piecing together the schedules for all 11 teams will require some tricky maneuvering. That's because several non-conference games are essentially set in stone.

Clemson's annual game against South Carolina is one example. So are the Georgia Tech-Georgia and FSU-Florida games. Just because the ACC has expanded, those nationally significant rivalry games are not going to be moved to early or mid-season. All will remain regular-season finales.

Guys, go ahead and invite West Virginia to join the league. It'll make things easier for everyone.

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: We didn't make the Top 25, but at least we got some votes. That's cool. They'll be ranking us after we beat No. 9 Georgia on Aug. 30.

I don't mean to sound cocky, but rom where I sit, the Dawgs are a tad overrated. They've lost their entire offensive line, all their starting linebackers, their top rusher and their top receiver. They're eminently beatable.

In other rankings, the Charlotte Observer says the Tigers will play the fifth-toughest schedule in the ACC this season. Okey-dokey.

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