GREENSBORO — Mike Glennon met John Swofford for the first time on Sunday at the ACC Kickoff.
The N.C. State quarterback got a simple message from the ACC commissioner: We’re counting on you.
N.C. State opens the 2012 season against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Aug. 31 in Atlanta. The next day, Clemson will square off with Auburn. The ACC is 0-3 in the event, with all three losses to SEC teams.
“Our first priority is winning for N.C. State but it would be nice to represent the ACC,” Glennon said. “The commissioner even said something to me and (safety) Earl (Wolff) about it.”
The ACC’s standing in college football’s hierarchy can only be improved with out-of-conference wins early in the season and in the postseason. The ACC’s woes in the Bowl Championship Series have been well documented. The league has not had a team in the national title game since 2000 and hasn’t won it since the turn of the century.
Even worse, the ACC’s record in BCS bowl games is 2-13, with a pair of losses last season, including league-champion Clemson’s 70-33 embarrassment against West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.
The opening games against the SEC in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff are the ACC’s latest chance to earn some national respect against the league that has won the past six BCS titles.
The prospect of the Tennessee game has already been good for N.C. State, which has opened up the past two seasons against lower level Division I teams. The players have been more focused in offseason workouts, Glennon said.
“I don’t know if it’s because of the game, but I felt like guys were working a little bit harder,” Glennon said.
New strength coach Corey Edmond added a Tennessee helmet to the weight room as a reminder of the opener.
“It’s a huge game,” Wolff said. “SEC, you know? It would be great to come out with a win.”
ACC SURVIVAL NOT AN ISSUE: The ACC formed in 1953 and will be around for the forseable future, commissioner John Swofford said Sunday.
Rumors of Florida State and Clemson leaving the league for the Big 12 were just rumors and the league’s vitality was never in question, Swofford said.
“That’s never been an issue in my mind,” he said. “You’re looking at a league that has a group of schools that are together for all the right reasons.”
Swofford pointed to the league’s new TV deal with ESPN, worth $3.6 billion through 2027, and the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh as proof of the ACC’s vitality.
“You’re talking about a league that a year from now that will be 14 member institutions – all of them are basically in the top 100 academically of the institutions in the United States,” Swofford said. “We have the entire eastern seaboard and nine contiguous states.”
DUKE INSPIRED BY HOLLIDAY: Duke’s players regularly visit injured teammate Blair Holliday at UNC Hospitals, senior Kenny Anunike said, and they’re trying to remain positive.
Holliday, a sophomore receiver, was severely injured in a jet ski accident on July 4 and remains in critical but stable condition. His teammates are trying to draw strength from Holliday.
“We’re just trying to rally behind him,” said Anunike, a senior defensive end. “So if anything has brought our offense and our defense together, our team together more as a unit, and just taught us that life is not taken lightly – anything can happen.
“That’s why you’ve got to go out there and do everything you can today. Go out there and just work as hard as you possibly can because you just never know what snap could be your last.”
At the request of Holliday’s family, the school has not provided updates on Holliday’s health, but the NCAA has approved a recovery fund for Holliday at www.giveforward.com/theblairhollidayrecoveryfund. More than $12,000 has been raised according to the website.