Two coaches banished to the press box at one point in conference-imposed disciplinary measures seemed the least of the ACC's troubles in 1986, and the off-season wasn't much better. In the spring, North Carolina tailback Derrick Fenner, the '86 ACC rushing champ (1,250 yards) was arrested on murder and drug charges. He has pleaded innocent to both, but won't play for the Tar Heels. Torin Dorn will try to fill Fenner's shoes, despite totaling only 141 yards last year (plus another 101 in the Aloha Bowl), but senior quarterback Mark Maye will either make or break North Carolina. Early games against Oklahoma and Auburn could leave the Heels battered and bruised for the conference chase.
Former Maryland coach Bobby Ross succeeds Bill Curry at Georgia Tech after a two-week fling as an NFL assistant. Ross must deal with the loss of running back Jerry Mays to knee surgery, and he's still looking for a quarterback. However, Tech has nine defensive starters back, including free safety Riccardo Ingram, a major league baseball prospect.
To replace Ross, Maryland settled on Joe Krivak, who ran the Terps' offense when they won ACC championships in 1983, '84 and '85. Nine starters return on offense, including quarterback Dan Henning and his top three receivers.
At N.C. State, coach Dick Sheridan treats his players like family. He scolds them for using profanity, prohibits his coaches from verbally abusing them and also tries to put players at positions of their own choosing. But Sheridan has two big holes: at quarterback, where Erik Kramer has graduated, and at wide receiver, where all-ACC Nasrallah Worthen was suspended for disciplinary reasons. Don't look for Sheridan to repeat last year's 8-3-1 Cinderella act.
Duke also has a new leader in Steve Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner at Florida. His strong sophomore class will need a year of seasoning, and the Blue Devils, 4-7 last year, will hardly make a dent in the ACC's traditional powers.
Bill Dooley, late of Virginia Tech and, before that, North Carolina, is back in the Tar Heel State, this time at Wake Forest. He won't match his earlier successes, though; Wake is a fraction the size of the schools Dooley is familiar with, and the Deacs have had only two winning records in the last 15 years.
Virginia is justifiably proud of having the country's highest player graduation rate (89%), but on the gridiron the Wahoos will again fail to make the grade.
Yes, that was Colorado wedged between Oklahoma and Nebraska in the '86 conference standings—but don't count on the Buffs butting in between the Terrible Two this time around; they'll pull in third. Two of last year's Prop 48 casualties, quarterback Sal Aunese and halfback J.J. Flannigan, should revive a Colorado offense that ranked 79th in Division I-A. The defense, rated 11th in the nation, returns mostly intact—that is, if tackle Curt Koch and linebacker Don DeLuzio can each recover from a broken leg suffered last spring when a driver ran them down as they were walking near Brownsville, Texas.