ACC Kickoff Notebook

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Don't miss a jam-packed notebook featuring news, notes and quotes on James Davis, Tommy Bowden, Mike O'Cain, Bobby Bowden, Jim Grobe, John Bunting, Chuck Amato and just about everybody else in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

As a freshman, Clemson tailback James Davis caught the attention of the national media. As a sophomore, bigger and better things are expected of him as evident by the four votes he received for Preseason ACC Player of the Year.

But there's a bugaboo known as a "sophomore slump" that has plagued several star athletes in all sports. It's when a sophomore doesn't live up to the hype from his freshman year and actually has a worse season than when he was a rookie.

Tigers coach Tommy Bowden doesn't anticipate it happening to Davis, but he's not ruling it out, either.

"I think his big key is, is he going to be as hungry this year as he was last year," Bowden said. "You hear about people talking about that sophomore slump, going from one year to the other, and all of a sudden you start reading about how good you are and you've got some awards and you don't work as hard because you think you've arrived and all of a sudden you can't reach your expectations mainly because you're not as hungry as you were going into your freshman year.

"But I think the competition with Reggie and other guys we're going to have, I think it will keep him being hungry."

Bowden said he'll discuss those issues with Davis prior to the season to make sure he still has the drive to be better this year.

"You do mention the fact that there have been a lot of guys that have had productive freshmen years who did not have the same success as sophomores," he said. "But I'm sure that will be written enough by the media that it's pretty much a national phenomena."

However, Bowden is aware sometimes there's nothing a coach can do to prevent such a thing from happening.

"I'm hoping he's a self-starter and a self-motivator," he said. "That's what you don't know. If he's not, then he'll have problems."

How long will he last?
With each passing year, there's increased speculation as to how much longer Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will remain in the coaching business.

Bowden, who has been with the Seminoles for 31 years, said people have been asking him that question for a long time and that each year, he gives them the same answer: not anytime soon.

"All those guys that said I was too old 20 years ago are all gone now," he said. "I'm still here and there's gone."

His son, Tommy, believes the answer to that pressing question all depends on Penn State coach Joe Paterno and how long he remains in the business. The two coaches are in a race to see who will retire as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history.

"They're both holding out," Tommy said. "He's going to coach as long as (Paterno) lives. But he'd never admit it."

Clemson's loss is Hokies' gain
After sitting out a football season, former Clemson offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain is the new quarterbacks coach for Virginia Tech.

Hokies coach Frank Beamer said there were zero concerns about his long-time friend being fired after spending only one season as offensive coordinator at Clemson.

"What happened there, that's not my business," Beamer said. "I feel grateful that we've got him. All I know is that I like Mike O'Cain and I'm glad he's on our staff."

Perception is reality
The general consensus among fans and media is that North Carolina has struggled and has been down as a program. But a closer look at the numbers might suggest otherwise.

Over the last two seasons, the Tar Heels are 9-7 in the ACC, having gone 5-3 in 2004, and 4-4 last season.

That mark equals Georgia Tech (9-7), but is better than Clemson (8-8), Virginia (8-8), N.C. State (6-10), Maryland (6-10), Wake Forest (4-12) and Duke (1-15).

The Tar Heels play at Clemson this year in the fourth game for the Tigers.

"We're 1-1 down there in our last two visits and we lost late in the game the last time we were down there," North Carolina coach John Bunting said. "I'm glad that game is early because I think they're going to get better as the season goes along."

Backhanded compliment
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has often been labeled as the coach that does the most with the least amount of talent.

If it's all the same, he'd rather not have that moniker.

"As a coach, you're always flattered when they say you're doing a good job and you're competitive," he said. "But we've got good players. We've got talented football players. We has coaches just have to do a better job of coaching them."

Win or else
N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato is facing the more scrutiny this season than maybe any other coach in the South. However, all the talk about him possibly being fired doesn't concern him.

"I have no control over (what reports say)," he said. "People can say whatever they want to about me. I don't have to sit here and tell you what we've done the last six years if you analyze it."

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