The fact that Russell Wilson won’t be playing collegiate football at North Carolina State this season makes the ACC Atlantic far easier to handicap. It’s also a tale whose outcome has its roots in another story from that very same division.
Last week, N.C. State head football coach Tom O’Brien, exasperated by Wilson’s decision to play minor-league baseball for the Asheville Tourists in the Colorado Rockies’ organization over the summer, decided to cut Wilson loose. O’Brien wanted complete buy-in and commitment from his starting quarterback in the offseason, so Wilson’s move cut against his coach’s desires, and the cord was promptly severed. Wilson has been adamant about building a two-sport career, while O’Brien insisted on a single-minded focus devoted entirely to football. The rift was unable to be patched together, and now North Carolina State must look elsewhere for a signal caller as the 2011 season approaches. Mike Glennon, a junior without any appreciable degree of game-day experience or live-action reps under center, is the leading candidate for the starting quarterback job now that Russell is out of the picture. Wilson will seek to play football at another school with his remaining year of eligibility.
Why is this story somehow familiar for those who bet on college football at BetUs, though not quite an exact replica of things that have come before it? You might recall that last year, the Clemson Tigers wondered deep into the spring if their own starting quarterback, Kyle Parker, would choose to return for his senior season. Parker also pursued minor-league ball – ironically enough, for the very same Colorado Rockies – and wanted to develop that part of his two-sport career. Clemson was worried about Parker’s choices, but the Tigers welcomed Parker’s decision to want to return to the gridiron in September. However, the marriage did not work out. Parker suffered through a terrible season and took down the Clemson offense with him. The Tigers finished in the middle of the ACC and fell far short of preseason expectations. It was with this scenario very much in mind that Tom O’Brien laid down the law to Russell Wilson at North Carolina State.
Now, with Wilson – a dynamic playmaking quarterback – removed from the Wolfpack roster, it’s even more difficult to imagine how anyone in the ACC Atlantic will challenge Florida State for the division title. Maryland might have a puncher’s chance with a souped-up passing game, but the Terrapins don’t have athleticism at every spot on the field the way the Seminoles do. Clemson is an incomplete team, and the Wolfpack are now lacking the field general who could outflank Florida State’s defense. Wake Forest and Boston College languish in mediocrity (or worse), so it’s really Florida State’s division to lose.