CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) Jim Phillips, commissioner for the new Atlantic Coast conference, made it clear that he wants Notre Dame to participate in the conference as a full-time football member after what he described as a beautiful and beneficial relationship during an unusual 2020 season.
Phillips knows that largely remains at Notre Dame.
The old joke is that Notre Dame loves two things: one is being Catholic, the second is independence. Sometimes those things go in reverse order. Sometimes they even like independence more than being Catholic, Phillips joked, who has a son and daughter who attend Notre Dame.
At his first public forum during the ACC Kickoff Media Days, Phillips spoke about Notre Dame’s independence issue, while the Notre Dames logo was displayed alongside the ACC’s 14 member schools in the background behind the podium.
They know the importance of ACCs, Phillips said. It’s been less than shy. It’s been less than shy since I’ve been here. But I also respect where they are. Our concentration is now on our 14 schools. Who knows where the future will go?
Last season, Notre Dame played as a temporary member of the ACC due to COVID-19 rules and remained undefeated during the regular season before losing to Clemson 34-10 in the ACC championship game.
They had a chance to play a fantastic program, Phillips said. They had the chance to compete for a national championship and compete in the CFP. We have a realistic example of what that might look like.
Notre Dame, an independent for years, yet five ACC teams on this year’s program, has given no indication that it is interested in joining the ACC in football.
REPLACEMENT STAR BACKS
North Carolina coach Mack Brown is tasked with replacing not one, but two of the nation’s top running backs from last season.
Javonte Williams rushed for 1,140 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, while Michael Carter ran for 1,245 yards and had 11 TDs in 2020. Together, they helped the Tar Heels set an NCAA record with 544 yards rushing in 62-26 flight from Miami. Both were NFL draft picks.
Brown sees Ty Chandler’s Tennessee transfer as the immediate answer after he racked up a total of 2,015 rushing yards and placed fifth in Vols history in all-purpose yards with 3,245.
He can run it in, great hands, he knows what to do, but he also has the speed that when he gets it into space he has a chance to score, Brown said of Chandler. We need to find some other guys with him, but we think he has a chance to step up and become a special player for us.
According to quarterback Sam Howell, talk of Williams and Carter leaving and who will replace them has motivated the UNCs.
They have a chip on their shoulders, Howell said. They’re tired of hearing who we’ve lost instead of who’s coming in.
DIAZ HANDLING DEFENSE
Miami head coach Manny Diaz said the Hurricanes defense took a big step back last season, which is why he plans to resume defensive play and call his duties a role he has had in the past.
Despite the defensive debacle against North Carolina, the Hurricanes finished 8-3 and allowed the fourth fewest points in the ACC and sixth fewest yards, but Diaz said he felt players needed a new set of eyes on them.
A good defense is ultimately about the connection between the players on the field, trust and responsibility, Diaz said. That’s where I felt like a year ago we didn’t quite have that. We are very proud of how we defend in Miami. … We weren’t proud of how we finished last year.
The Hurricanes will be anchored by security Bubba Bolden, one of the conference’s top defenders. But the Canes have to find a pass rush after finishing 10th in the ACC in sacks and losing both defensive starting points.
You somehow get to the quarterback, Bolden said.
Virginia Tech has one of the better vibes in all of college football with Metallicas Enter Sandman blaring through the stadium speakers as they race onto the field.
The pandemic prevented all of that from last season.
Now coach Justin Fuente is eager to see fans back at the stadium when the Hokies host North Carolina in the season opener on September 3.
Our fans come to the game, not to be entertained, but to participate, to help our football team win the ball game and they didn’t get that chance, Fuente said. It’s more than a game, it’s a social event. People show up several days early and start tailgating, getting ready. I expect it to be a special evening, an emotional evening, something I will remember for a long time to come.
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