GRANDOVER RESORT/GREENSBORO One was a landslide while the other would have made for a very long Election Night.
When it came to picking the likely champion of the Atlantic Division this season, voters at the 43rd annual ACC Kickoff were very clear.
But in a balanced Coastal Division, the vote of the media was almost a four-way tie.
Defending National Champion Florida State got 109 votes to just three for runner-up Clemson to repeat as Atlantic Division champion. That was no surprise at all as the preseason player of the year is the Seminoles’ sophomore quarterback, Jameis Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy as a rookie last season.
FSU got 104 votes to win the conference title, with Clemson and Virginia Tech picking up two apiece (inexplicably, four people didn’t vote for the champion nor for the preseason MVP.)
Clemson was a very clear choice for second place in the Atlantic, followed by newcomer Louisville, Syracuse, N.C. State, Boston College and Wake Forest.
But in the Coastal, it’s literally anybody’s guess. Miami finished first in the point standings, despite receiving fewer votes for first place than either defending division champion Duke or UNC. The Hurricanes garnered 26 first-place votes to 33 for runner-up Duke, 23 for third-place Virginia Tech and 27 for the fourth-place Tar Heels. Fifth-place Georgia Tech even got a vote for first while sixth-place Pittsburgh received a pair with only last-place Virginia shut out.
Winston got 99 votes for player of the year to six for Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley. Three other players including Duke wideout Jamison Crowder got one each.
They said it …
Duke coach David Cutcliffe: “There have got to be more tangible things that occur on a daily basis (around Duke football.) When you, quote, ‘change a (football) culture’ it changes in every aspect of your program from recruiting to what the expectations are there, to quality of practices – there are things at practice where we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to become a more physical football team (after a 10-4 school-record finish.) And how do you manage that in this new era? I’ve never believed that more (practice) contact is better. Quality contact is better. We’re not good enough, and that’s a culture. The best teams I’ve been around, you’ve got to say ‘Whoa! Enough’s enough, boys. Back off!”
UNC coach Larry Fedora: “Man, that (Coastal pick) looks good. I think it’s wide open and that’s why everybody got votes. I think anybody could win it, and it’s going to be about who plays well down the stretch and takes care of business. Last year (a 7-6 campaign) was one of those seasons you didn’t want to be over. Our guys were getting better and better with more confidence every week and it was fun. It was fun coaching them because we were young and they were enjoying it. … And the way we started the season (1-5) gave us some good momentum (in the off-season) because nobody wants to do that again.”
NCSU coach Dave Doeren: “I think adversity brings out a couple of things in people. I think it bring an opportunity to get better for me and for our team and that’s what we’ve stressed – Hey, here’s why things happened the way they did. And there were a lot of reasons. There were a lot of tight games where we couldn’t figure out how to win. Sometimes it was a guy wide-open that we didn’t see. Sometimes a guy didn’t make a play that he had made all game long. Sometimes the other team made some plays. There are always things I can do better as a coach and we’ll continue to do better as we go. When you lose, obviously you look at it harder. That kind of (3-9) season scars you, but I also think it really does make you stronger. It makes you look at yourself and it makes your players stronger because nobody else is talking to them in a nice way.”
N.C. State vs. Georgia Southern, Aug. 30, 12:30 p.m.
Duke vs. Elon, Aug. 30, 6 p.m.
UNC vs. Liberty, Aug. 30, 6 p.m.