The ACC is ready to begin a new era. But is Florida State going along with that?
The Seminoles have absolutely owned the ACC since Jimbo Fisher’s second season as head coach. Between 2012-14, FSU has gone 26-1 against conference teams, including the last 24 in a row and also won the last three conference championship games.
But this season promises to be different. Jameis Winston is gone and there’s a lot of uncertainty on both sides of the ball for Florida State. So at the ACC’s just-concluded Media Days in Pinehurst, N.C., the members of the media overwhelmingly picked Clemson to supplant the ‘Noles (101 first-place votes to 56) as the next ACC champion.
Will Clemson fulfill that prediction? And what else have we learned at the Media Days?
1. The Tigers are embracing the hype
Dabo Swinney’s last three seasons at Clemson would’ve been a raging success if it weren’t for the pesky detail that his teams couldn’t beat Florida State and therefore couldn’t even win their division. The Tigers went 20-4 in ACC play from 2012-14 with three of the losses against the Seminoles.
But Clemson is now predicted to claim its first conference title since 2011, and Swinney, with preseason ACC player of the year Deshaun Watson in tow, is ready to take on that challenge.
“He’s as advertised,” Swinney said of his sophomore quarterback. “You all are picking him to be the preseason player of the year and all that stuff based on what you all have seen. He’s beyond what you’ve seen.
“Our guys realize over the next 46 days we got a lot of work to do to have a chance to do just that. So looking forward to it. … I love our team. I love our roster. I definitely think we have as good a shot as anybody out there.”
2. Jimbo Fisher’s got more serious issues than rebuilding his roster
Besides having to figure out who’ll play quarterback, Fisher had the mother of all offseasons when a number of FSU players got in legal trouble. Most notably, quarterback De’Andre Johnson was shown on surveillance video striking a woman in the face at a bar and has been dismissed from the team. It’s gotten so out of hand that Florida State president John E. Thrasher felt compelled to give his football team a talking-to recently.
Fisher says he has a zero tolerance policy for hitting women. And that he’s shouldering the blame for the Seminoles’ troubled offseason.
“Just like it is anywhere else in the country, you as the head coach take responsibility, and you continue to educate,” Fisher said. “You hope (the players) don’t make mistakes, and when they do, you punish and adjust and continue to educate so they don’t do it again.
“I don’t think what’s happened at Florida State is relative to just Florida State. It happens all over the country. We get more attention because of the success of our program, and we accept that, and our players have to accept that responsibility.”
3. ACC sports has its own TV network, you just don’t know it
The SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have their respective television networks, available on different cable and satellite providers, but the ACC doesn’t. Or does it?
ACC commissioner John Swofford says his conference does have its own network, sort of.
“You mean a channel? We have a network,” Swofford said. “A 24/7 channel? I think that we had – you have to evaluate your own league and where you are in the marketplace, and timing always comes into play, what’s happening in the marketplace when your contracts are up. So far, at each turn, our best decision has been to do what basically we’ve been doing. … We’ve got the right format to take us into future decades, literally.”
You can find the “ACC Network” through syndication on different local channels and also streaming platforms. But it doesn’t appear there’ll be a stand-alone network anytime soon.
4. Somehow, Nick Saban’s name is invoked
Even though he coaches in the SEC, the Alabama coach is always in the news, no matter which conference Media Days you’re attending. At the ACC Media Days, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, who like Saban had a cup of coffee coaching in the NFL before scurrying back to the college ranks, had this to say about his one-time pro rival:
“We try to steal new schemes,” Petrino said. “Saban’s the master at it. When he has a job opening, he’ll bring in a couple guys to interview he has no, no thoughts of hiring them, but he wants to know what they’re teaching at that university, what are you doing against the blitz, what are you doing against this, just to learn and gather information.”
5. ACC really needs to hire a good proofreader
But the thing that got the most attention coming out of the ACC Media Days had nothing to do with the coaches, players or cost of attendance, but this page of the conference media guide:
Yeah, somebody should’ve caught that before it went to press.