A few weeks ago at a team meeting, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney tried to bring home a message to his team by throwing away a preseason magazine with Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd on the cover.
“No offense to whoever wrote the magazine, but it really is that irrelevant,” Swinney said, “because all of that is based on what we did last year.”
Swinney has more to dramatically trash. At the ACC media days event, the Tigers were picked the preseason favorite to win the ACC title, which would be their second in three years. Clemson was the runaway favorite, named on 95 of the 120 ballots. Boyd was also named the ACC preseason player of the year on 105 ballots.
Since the ACC split into two divisions in 2005, the preseason prediction has been correct four out of eight times. The last time the Tigers were picked in 2008, they fired coach Tommy Bowden after starting 3-3.
Tech was picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division, behind Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
“Isn’t that about where they pick us every year?” coach Paul Johnson asked.
In Johnson’s five seasons, Tech has either outperformed or matched their preseason projection. In 2008, they were picked fourth and shared first place with Virginia Tech. In 2009, they were predicted to finish second and won the ACC title. In 2010, they were picked third and finished tied for third. In 2011, they were pegged fourth and tied for second. Last year, they were projected to finish in second place and won the division.
Edsall supports lawsuit: If he were a player, Maryland coach Randy Edsall said he “most definitely” would join a lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of players’ likenesses.
“Because kids are committed to institutions and not to the NCAA,” Edsall said, “and the NCAA is using their likeness to make money, in my opinion, and that money is not going back to these kids.”
Originally filed in 2009, former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is suing the NCAA with the claim that it owes billions of dollars to former players for using their likenesses without compensation. EA Sports, also named in the suit, sells video games licensed by the NCAA that uses players’ likenesses and images. The NCAA ended the licensing agreement with EA Sports last week.
Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, from College Park, recently joined the lawsuit with five other current players. Swinney said he would “absolutely not” be a part of such a suit were he a player, though he supported Robinson’s desire to voice his opinion by joining the lawsuit. Swinney said he supported enhancing athletic scholarships with stipends, but said he doesn’t want to “professionalize” college athletics.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of it,” Swinney said. “And anything that diminishes the value of an education, I’m against.”
Kelly making good: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher bragged on his new linebackers coach, former Tech secondary coach Charles Kelly. FSU hired Kelly in January after he had finished the season as Tech’s interim defensive coordinator and led a turnaround of the Yellow Jackets defense. Fisher has known Kelly since 1993, when Fisher was an Auburn assistant coach and Kelly was a graduate assistant, and had sought to hire him previously.
“One of the best human beings I’ve ever known,” Fisher said. “Tremendous coach, very good recruiter, very knowledgeable as a linebacker coach.”
Lofty goal: Duke made its first bowl trip last season since the 1994 season. Coach David Cutcliffe has grand aspirations for what’s next.
“I think it’s important to play four or five (bowl games) in a row,” he said. “Tradition to young people is what happened the last two to three years. … So the goal has got to be to play in a bowl game every year. That’s got to be an expectation that’s created.”
The Blue Devils have never made bowl trips in successive seasons.
Double duty: In camp, Virginia Tech will be installing a new offense with new coordinator Scot Loeffler and preparing for its Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against defending national champion Alabama at the same time.
“The bottom line is if you can execute what’s in front of you,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “You’d better make sure you can execute it against Alabama. Alabama can make you look bad in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing.”