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Final Thoughts From ACC Kickoff

Photo Courtesy of the ACC

Two days removed from the ACC Kickoff event in Charlotte, there are still plenty of storylines to digest. Whether it’s the excitement from both Syracuse and Pittsburgh about the Yankee Stadium game, Florida State’s quest to dethrone Clemson, or the new 3-5-5 scheduling format, there was and is plenty to dissect. Three things in particular stand out from the week, from a conference-wide perspective and for Syracuse as its own entity.


Dino Babers referred to the ACC as “a conference to be reckoned with” where “anybody can beat anybody”. It’s hard to envision Virginia Tech usurping Florida State in Tallahassee this season, but he makes a very valid point. The Seminoles and Clemson are the clear frontrunners in the conference, but up and down there’s sky-high potential. NC State reunited OC Robert Anae and QB Brennan Armstrong, a duo that broke records at Virginia. Head Coach Mike Elko and underrated QB Riley Leonard have Duke on the rise. Brent Key’s words should have Georgia Tech fans ready to run through a wall. Elsewhere, North Carolina may have the best QB in the country not named Caleb Williams in Drake Maye, Louisville and Miami have strong coaches with Jeff Brohm and Mario Cristobal, Pittsburgh is always tough, and Wake Forest and Boston College both have potential despite roster losses. That’s not to say Syracuse has no chance to succeed, rather that it won’t come easy.


Gone are Anae and Tony White, in come Jason Beck and Rocky Long. Garrett Shrader described Beck as a very loose coach that wants to see his team play fun, and Marlowe Wax described Long as a “football guru”. Very complementary words. Starting with Beck, he knows Shrader well given that he was a quarterbacks coach before moving up to OC. QB1 also touched on the assortment of weapons he has to work with, citing five or six potential breakout candidates on the offensive end (Oronde Gadsden expressed a similar sentiment). If one of them (or more) realizes that potential, how good does Beck look? As for Long, it isn’t talked about enough that he is the creator of the 3-3-5. Wax mentioned that Coach White’s piece of the puzzle is somewhat intact, but Long is inserting his vision into it. That’s exactly what you want to hear. In what could be a make-it-or-break-it season for Babers, the performances of the coordinators he hired could either secure or destroy his job security.


Even if it wasn’t addressed word for word, conference realignment thoughts floated throughout the event. Right from the offset, Commissioner Phillips addressed the prowess of the ACC from both an academic and athletic prowess, citing the number of national titles won across all sports in the process. It was almost as if Phillips was pitching to the so-called “Magnificent 7” why those schools should stay in the conference. The timing of it could not have been better too (or worse depending on how you look at it). Colorado became the latest Power Five school to jump ship, bolting the PAC-12 for the Big Ten. Additionally, rumors surrounding Florida State leaving the conference circulated even more. No team spoke directly about conference realignment during the week, but both Babers and Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi praised the quality of competition the ACC provides. Regardless of how often words of encouragement were spoken, the threat is there.

It should be a fascinating season for Syracuse and the entire ACC. It really is anybody’s game, the Orange’s new coordinators perform could determine the program’s future, and it’s hard to not sweat about conference realignment. It’s not hyperbolic to say that 2023 could be the biggest season for the ACC and Syracuse since the last wave of conference changes.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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