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  • Jennifer Lewis

Who will be the X- Factor in ACC Championship Game

The fight for the ACC Championship between two good men and more importantly good friends, who happen to be two of the most respected college football coaches. I found out today, not sure if this is a secret or if it was, but when Coach Swinney took over in 2008 as the head coach of the Clemson Tigers in 2008 after Coach Bowden resigned mid-season that Coach Swinney called about 5 other coaches in college to just talk to and ask questions about the position.

Only one took his call and invited him down to Austin, TX, which was Coach Mac Brown. In Feb 2009 the entire Tigers coaching Staff traveled to Austin for a couple of days with the then Longhorns head coach Brown. Out of that trip, a lasting friendship was born. They both joked that Coach Brown would not have been so helpful had they foreseen the future. I love seeing good friends who are good competitors, that is what sports are all about.

Now thirteen years later these two men are meeting with their respective teams to get the ACC Championship tomorrow, Saturday, December 3, 2022. During the press conference the normal questions were asked. I asked both coaches who their quiet X Factor is tomorrow to win a championship.

Coach Swinney joked around that he could not tell me, because it would not be quiet anymore… I promised to only report it later tonight. With that being said, Coach said that Running back Phil Mafah was going to be the factor that would get the job done. He said that Mr. Mafah was not that talkative, but he was loud on the field and his numbers certainly back that up. In high school Mr. Mafah was ranked number 178 in the nation of all football players, 11th best running back in the nation and 16th ranked best ball player in Georgia.

These rankings were all done by 247Sports. In 2021 he was going to redshirt but got called up due to attrition. In 9 games Mr. Mafah recorded 292 yards, 3 td’s on 7 receptions and gained 50 yards on seven receptions with over 170 offensive snaps; he had ONE start last year and oh yeah, he was on the ACC Honor Roll too. This year Mr. Mafah has 89 attempts, 466 yards, 3 td’s 8 receptions so far. That being said Coach Swinney had pleanty of positive things to say about Will Shipley amongst so many others. Coach is obviously proud of his team.

Conversely, when I asked Coach Brown who his quiet X factor is, he jovially flipped the script on me to ask whom Coach Swinney said, I told him, he made lots of positive comments about Mr. Mafah. It was not surprising whom he stated, QB Drake Maye, while praising Josh Downs and others. Not surprisingly Mr. Maye as a freshman is a Heisman frontrunner, a finalist for the Manning award, ACC Offensive player of the year, Rookie of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, and Offensive Rookie of the Year.  Mr. Maye is Carolina Family Royalty. His brothers both play(ed) for Carolina, as did their dad.

At the end of the day the ACC Championship will be a great game led by great coaches, who are great friends and teach their men to respect the game and each other. It is a travesty that both teams are out of the playoffs this year.


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