ACC MEDIA DAYS: Atlantic Notebook

PINEHURST, N.C. – Exactly one year ago, media members from all around the nation predicted that Wake Forest would finish dead last in the Atlantic Division.

Truth be told, even Deacons' defensive end Jeremy Thompson was just hoping to win enough games to qualify for a bowl game.

"My goals for the season were different from my expectations," he said. "I knew we'd be good and would have a chance to make a bowl. But I didn't think it'd be the Orange Bowl."

Earlier in the week, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said that Demon Deacons head coach Jim Grobe wouldn't have had the opportunity to win the ACC Championship at Clemson with three previous losing seasons like he had at Wake Forest because he wouldn't have had a job.

Thompson understands why Bowden would say that.

"There's definitely some truth to that," he said. "If you have three losing seasons, the coach is definitely gone at the big programs. Just look at what happened to Larry Coker at Miami.

"At the bigger schools, the program is already supposed to be built and not lose. Here, Coach was given time to build a program."

NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Ever since Chuck Amato took over as the head coach at N.C. State, the Wolfpack were known throughout the ACC as having the worse discipline around. Opponents knew that more times than not, right when it was crucial, N.C. State would commit a stupid penalty to hurt its cause.

Those days appear to be in the past with new head coach Tom O'Brien at the helm.

O'Brien has a strong military background and he is known as a no-nonsense type of guy. Discipline is a way of life for him and his team. He prides himself on playing smart and doing things the right way. It was very rare that a gaff cost Boston College a win.

Members of the Wolfpack said they can already see the difference even though actual games are still more than a month away.

"Through spring practice, you could tell that it was going to be different," said senior wide receiver Darrell Blackman Sunday at the 2007 ACC Football Kickoff at the Pinehurst Resort. "I think all our mistakes in the past were caused by fatigue. We weren't a well-conditioned team. We always got tired at the end of games.

"Now, our conditioning is better. And if you make that penalty, they'll pull you out and put the next guy in."

All the dumb mistakes and penalties were just only a part of the reason why Amato was shown the door at the end of last season. There was always flash and very little substance.

Nonetheless, senior defensive tackle DeMario Pressley said he never believed all the rumors that Amato was going to get fired.

"I was very shocked," he said. "I didn't expect that at all. I thought he was here to stay."

NO HARD FEELINGS: When O'Brien did leave Boston College during the offseason for the same job at N.C. State, a lot of eyebrows were raised. But nowhere was it as shocking as it was in Chestnut Hill.

After all, not only did O'Brien leave the Eagles for a school in the same conference, but that school is in the same division.

"At first with the initial shock there was a lot of animosity," said Boston College senior linebacker Jolonn Dunbar. "But after talking to Coach O'Brien, we understood it was a business thing.

"We knew it was a tough thing for him to do. I've never seen him in a situation like that before where he was so emotional. So, you know it was heartfelt. He was emotional and he never gets like that."

Dunbar said as far as the players are concerned that O'Brien's return to Boston College in the second week of the season won't be difficult to experience. He said it's all in the past.

"Personally, it's all forgiven now," he said. "But I'm not sure how Coach O'Brien will be accepted by all the fans."

NO MORE EXCUSES: For the last several years, there have been no more critics than those of the Florida State coaching staff.

And it was justly deserved.

Jeff Bowden, the former offensive coordinator, proved nothing and showed that he couldn't get the job done. Unfortunately for Seminoles fans, Bowden's tenure didn't end soon enough.

But now that he's gone, as well as a host of other assistants, many believe Florida State will rise to its rightful place atop the ACC.

"We've got a lot of pressure on us now because we're got the coaches in place," said Seminoles junior running back Antone Smith. "Now that we've got the coaches, are we going to win like we're expected to?" Top Stories