clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Talking Canes with David Glenn of ACC Sports

Looking for an outsider's expert perspective on the 'Canes season, The ACC Conference as a whole, a certain member of UM's staff, and a few other subjects, I reached out to the editor and publisher of personality David Glenn and asked him a few questions.


About David:


David has been a well-known sports journalist in North Carolina and throughout the East Coast for more than 15 years. Before reaching his current status as host of one of the largest local daily sports talk radio shows in the country, Glenn enjoyed success from 2000-2009 as the afternoon drive-time host for Sports Radio 850 The Buzz in Raleigh. As a drive-time host, Glenn achieved ratings that represented a larger audience than those of all other Triangle sports talk shows in the same time slot combined. Glenn remains very active in radio beyond his show, participating in more than 500 shows each year on dozens of stations throughout the ACC area, and as a popular speaker at dozens of sports clubs, civic groups and other organizations.

After more than a decade as the award-winning editor and lead writer for the ACC Sports Journal, the best-selling college sports publication in history, Glenn re-launched its accompanying website,, in 2008. Glenn, who has covered college athletics and other sports as a journalist for more than 25 years, is the author of seven ACC-related productions/publications, including "Royal Blue: The History of Duke Basketball" (Raycom), "Tar Heels On Tape" (Village Companies), and ‘The History Of The ACC Tournament" (Raycom). Glenn has also contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Sporting News, the ACC Basketball Yearbook, the ACC Football Yearbook, the ACC Basketball Handbook, and many other regional and national publications.

Here is our full Q&A:

SOTU: Miami is headed to a bowl and 9-3.  Yet the fan base seems almost dissatisfied with the season. and lack of a birth in the ACCCG.  What is your assessment of the 'Canes and their progress this year?

David: In my eyes, the most important thing for Miami to accomplish in Al Golden's third season was to show the football world -- especially prospective recruits, their families and their high school coaches -- that the program was making large strides in the right direction. I think the Hurricanes achieved that goal with their 9-3 regular season, even though it wasn't completely satisfying and even though it didn't result in a trip to the ACC championship game.

It would have become much more difficult to "sell" UM as a championship-caliber program if Golden had followed his 6-6 and 7-5 records with something similar. Remember, dating back to Larry Coker's final season (2006), the Hurricanes had five, six or seven wins a total of six times in a seven-year stretch; that reeks of long-term mediocrity, especially by UM standards. By winning nine games -- and maybe 10, considering the upcoming bowl game -- the Hurricanes showed that their arrow continues to be pointed in the right direction under Golden. That makes any school's optimistic recruiting pitch much more believable.

When it comes to fans, let's keep this in mind: There are delusional, unrealistic fans at every school. Anyone who thought this year's UM team was going to challenge Florida State or Clemson for ACC supremacy or national top-10 status simply doesn't understand college football very well. Counting their time as assistant coaches, this was Jimbo Fisher's seventh year with the Seminoles, and Dabo Swinney's 11th year with the Tigers. Given what he inherited back in 2011, I think Golden's third-year performance was a positive, solid one overall, again even though it wasn't truly exceptional or an over-achievement.

SOTU: One hot button topic for UM fans, is the status of Defensive Coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.  A lot of fans are calling for his job.  Do you think Hurricanes fans need to be more patient, or do you think a new DC would improve things?

David: This is one area where I think many Miami fans have some valid complaints. I don't think a fair assessment of D'Onofrio over his three seasons at UM requires an automatic dismissal, but he certainly hasn't been exceptional, either. Some of that is personnel-related, of course, but the Virginia Tech (42-24) and Duke (48-30) losses this season were examples of the Hurricanes being embarrassed by offenses that other defenses at least figured out how to slow down.

Obviously, Golden has to decide whether he believes D'Onofrio is maximizing the performance of the UM defense. Given the relatively modest results of the last three years, plus their long friendship as former Penn State teammates and coaching colleagues, plus the reality that most coordinator changes run the risk of confusing players rather than building consistency through multi-year repetitions in the same system, that appears to be a difficult, complicated decision.

SOTU: Do you think Al Golden's name comes up if any high profile coaching jobs have vacancies?

David: To me, one of the most amazing and impressive aspects of Golden's three-year tenure at Miami is that he already has turned away numerous inquiries (Arkansas, Boston College, Illinois, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin, etc.) from other major-conference programs.

Especially given the rocky start to his relationship with UM, with the secretive and borderline fraudulent approach the school took with Golden in essentially hiding (for a while) the Nevin Shapiro situation from him, Hurricanes fans should give the coach a LOT of credit for the loyalty he has shown to the university and to his players. As an attorney myself, I can tell you with confidence that he would have had a great legal argument if he had wanted to leave UM without paying a single dollar of whatever buyout money is written into his contract for a voluntary departure.

So, yes, the Golden name continues to have a high level of respect around college football, and I'm sure more inquiries will come his way. But moving forward I have no reason to believe that he has changed his happy-at-Miami stance or will change it any time soon. UM may not be a top-10 job anymore, but it's a very good job. Golden knows that, and now that he has three years invested in moving the Hurricanes back toward elite status, he has even more reasons to stay.

SOTU: FSU is obviously having a spectacular season.  How would you judge the overall strength of the ACC beyond the Seminoles?

David: At our website and in the pages of the ACC Sports Journal (our quarterly magazine), we went into 2013 describing ACC football as a two-team race at the top between national championship contenders FSU and Clemson, then a significant dropoff to the next tier (including Miami), and I think that's exactly how the season unfolded. The Seminoles and Tigers simply had better combinations of talent, experience, depth, coaching and the other things you need to win at a very high level. Coastal Division champion Duke, with its first 10-win season in program history, ended up showcasing all of those things, too.

Clearly, on the national scene, the ACC as a whole still is not playing football on the same level as the SEC or even the Pac-12, although I think it ranks in the same neighborhood as the Big 12 and the Big Ten. Beyond FSU (12-0) and Clemson (10-2), Duke (10-2) and Miami (9-3) also have chances to finish in the Top 25, and a conference-record 11 bowl teams offers some evidence of quality depth.

In reality, though, conference reputations rise and fall far more on the performances of their best teams than on their depth, and rightly so. Florida State is playing in the BCS title game. Clemson beat LSU in a bowl last year and gets a shot at Ohio State this year. If the Seminoles can beat Auburn to capture the national championship, and the Tigers can beat the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl, those two results would do far more good for the image and reputation of ACC football than even an 0-9 record in the other nine games would do damage to those same things.

SOTU: Changing the subject to hoops briefly,  What do you think of the job Jim Larranaga has done so far with Miami's Basketball Program?  How soon before they have another banner season like last?

David: It's funny. I've been covering ACC football and basketball for 27 years. If you had told me a decade ago that Florida State and Miami would have won back-to-back ACC titles in basketball (as they did in 2012 and 2013), but that they wouldn't have met even once in the ACC football championship game, I would have told you that you were out of your mind! But here we are, and obviously Jim Larranaga played a huge role in making that UM hoops dream come true.

What Larranaga did over his first two seasons at Miami was truly a thing of beauty, an absolute masterpiece. Day by day, he built positive personal relationships with his players, just as they gained a better understanding of how he wanted things done on and off the court. By the time the 2012-13 season arrived, everyone was on the same page, most of his best players were seniors, and Shane Larkin was ready to be a dominant point guard as a sophomore.

Moving forward, obviously, everyone should expect the Hurricanes to have some growing pains, especially offensively. It's essentially impossible to lose 97 percent of your "starts" from the previous season, as UM just did, without hitting some serious valleys the following year. In the longer run, of course, Larranaga still has to show that his recruiting at the ACC level at least can approach the level of his coaching, which is outstanding for any level.

SOTU: How many teams do you see making the field of 68 from the ACC?   Who wins the conference?

David: I think the ACC regular-season championship will come down to Duke and Syracuse. They have the most talented rosters in the conference, and they happen to be coached by the guys who are in first (Mike Krzyzewski) and second (Jim Boeheim) place on the all-time NCAA wins list. That's a tough combination to beat. Of course, the official ACC champion is the one that wins the ACC Tournament, and in that one-and-done setting someone else could get on a roll.

After the Blue Devils and the Orange, I see NCAA Tournament-caliber teams at North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Virginia. Beyond those six, additional ACC squads probably will emerge with NCAA-caliber resumes. Florida State and Maryland certainly have good shots, and maybe someone else will surprise us. That would make nine, maybe. I know Coach K and others have talked about 10 bids for the ACC, but I just don't see it, at least not this season.

SOTU: Last but not least wow do you feel about Notre Dame "joining" the ACC?  Do you feel like the conference would be better off with them as a full member?

David: Every round of ACC expansion -- from Florida State's addition in the early 1990s, through Boston College-Miami-Virginia Tech in 2004-05, then Notre Dame-Pittsburgh-Syracuse this season, and the Louisville-for-Maryland trade next year -- has generated significant amounts of debate and indigestion among long-time fans of the conference. The league's decision to break its 60-year-old "full members only" policy for the Fighting Irish fits that description, too.

Generally speaking, I ultimately have been in favor of the league's decisions on these matters, including Notre Dame. That doesn't mean I enjoy the watering down of ACC culture, which inevitably has happened and will continue to happen. (It's simply not possible to have the same family-like "feel," familiarity and even schedules among 15 members that existed when the league had only eight or nine members.) That doesn't mean I roll my eyes at the many traditionalists who still carry a strong distaste for the manner in which expansion has unfolded. It just means that I thought the pluses outweighed the minuses. I can't fault ACC decision-makers for casting difficult but pragmatic real-world votes that placed great value on financial security, even at the expense of tradition.

Regarding Notre Dame as a full-time member of the ACC (or any other league), I am reminded why Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker never accepted my offer to be a full-time member of the Glenn family. As my (very understanding) wife Maria once told me, "One, she has no idea who you are. Two, she wouldn't have said yes even if she did. Those are only two reasons, but those are two VERY BIG REASONS." With Notre Dame, the key factors are (1) an extremely proud, deeply ingrained, century-plus tradition of football independence, and (2) a lucrative, one-of-a-kind, school-to-network television deal -- recently extended through 2025 -- worth more than $15 million per year. As my wife might say, those are only two reasons, but they are VERY BIG REASONS.

Certainly, the ACC would love Notre Dame as a full-time member, and I would favor that, too. But the Irish have made crystal clear that they prefer the status quo. Sadly, Brooklyn Decker still appears to be leaning that way, too.

Thanks again to David for taking the time to talk with us.