Hartman: ‘I owed it to Wake Forest’ to return after ACC loss

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sam Hartman walked off the field at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium in December in despair after throwing four interceptions in Wake Forest’s 45-21 loss to Pittsburgh in the 2021 ACC championship game.

The 22-year-old quarterback was so downtrodden he declined interviews after the game.

Hartman hasn’t forgotten that night in which the Demon Deacons were held scoreless in their final 13 possessions and missed out on a chance to win the school’s first ACC title since 2006.

“It’s one of the reasons I came back. It’s a legacy, right?” said Hartman, a redshirt junior who has thrown for 9,266 yards and 72 touchdowns during his four seasons. “Wake Forest invested in me and I want to invest back in Wake Forest. I felt like I owed it to them and their belief in me. … I wanted to make it right.”

Hartman was in good spirits on Wednesday, arriving at ACC Media Days wearing a “Peaky cap,” a nod to his favorite TV character Tommy Shelby from the early 1900s British crime drama “Peaky Blinders.” (“I like his attitude and his mentality,” Hartman said.)

Aside from the ACC title game, Hartman had a spectacular season. He threw for 4,228 yards with 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, helping Wake Forest unseat national power Clemson to win the Atlantic Division championship. After the ACC loss, the Deacons bounced back to beat Rutgers 38-10 in the Gator Bowl to finish 11-3.

And while Tommy Shelby is known as a no-nonsense character who doesn’t take anything from anyone, Hartman said he’s learned to “tone down” his trash talk during the game as he’s matured .

“I’ve learned if you trash talk people, they hit you harder – so I’ve kind of shied away from that,” Hartman said with a laugh. “I’m more likely to make cordial conversation.”


Wake Forest isn’t the only Atlantic Division team returning an experienced quarterback – all seven will.

That group that includes Devin Leary with North Carolina State and DJ Uiagalelei at Clemson.

Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said he’s never seen this kind of scenario before, adding that he expects the Atlantic to be a “slugfest.”

“If you are playing a team whose quarterback is not savvy and doesn’t have experience and yours is, you have a great advantage,” Doeren said. “We don’t have that in any game as far as playing against a nonstarter.”

Other returning starting QBs in the division are Florida State’s Jordan Travis, Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader, Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec and Louisville’s Mailk Cunningham.


Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the difference between Uiagalelei and his successful predecessors Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson is that Uiagalelei hasn’t gotten the support from those around him.

Uiagalelei received heavy criticism last year for the Tigers’ falloff in offensive production, but Swinney threw his support behind him Wednesday.

“I got a lot of confidence in DJ,” Swinney said. “He’s got some scars on him, some shrapnel – and that’s going to serve him well. … But you’ve got to go do it. And I believe he will do it.”


Commissioner Jim Phillips said the ACC is supportive of an expanded College Football Playoff, but added there “is more work to be done” before that comes to fruition.

In January, Phillips preached caution when it came to playoff expansion, citing concerns about athlete welfare, the impact on academics and the length of the season.

“The ACC took what we believe was a necessary stance regarding last fall’s CFP proposal,” Phillips said. “This was based on feeling we must all come together to address before rushing into a new model.”

But Phillips’ optimism comes after what he called “great meetings” with other conference commissioners in April and June. He said he is confident that the concerns of the ACC and others will be addressed and “a new model with great access will ultimately come to pass.”

Phillips said an expansion still might take some time.

“I don’t expect us in September when we get together to line up and announce a new CFP structure,” Phillips said. “… I don’t know that there’s a separation now with those things. We’ll see, but I think the health and safety, the 365-day calendar review. I mean, we’ve talked about access, automatic qualifiers. There’s a lot of things to discuss.”


This will be the final season the ACC uses the two-division format.

Beginning in 2023, the league will go to one 14-team division and the teams with the top two winning percentages will advance to the annual conference championship game the first weekend of December in Charlotte.

That would seem to be an advantage to teams in the Atlantic Division that have had to compete for one spot with Clemson, which had won every ACC title since 2014 before being upended by Wake Forest last season.

“If you take the division votes every year, the Atlantic was for eliminating it, and the Coastal was for keeping it,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Nebraska’s leading rusher Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska opened spring practice with running back Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely to work on academics and other issues, first-year coach Matt Rhule announced.

Grant led the team in rushing with 915 yards and six touchdowns last season. He also caught 18 passes for 104 yards.

“Working on academics and general things. Nothing bad other than just our standards as a program,” Rhule said. “That will be day by day. Good kid. Just have to get him going in the right direction.”

Rhule said kick returner and reserve receiver Tommi Hill also is suspended. He did not specify a reason.

Backup tight ends Chris Hickman and James Carnie and reserve cornerback Tyreke Johnson left the team.