GREENSBORO, N.C. – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t thinking just about the 2012 season. He’s got bright hopes for the Tigers well into the future.
“There’s no doubt we’re headed in the right direction,” Swinney said at ACC Media Days. “It’s going to be an exciting decade for Clemson football.”
Swinney was asked what the next step for his team is after winning an ACC title in 2011, his third full season. He responded that it was to build a consistent winner, one that is ranked annually and occasionally has “that special year.”
Clemson finished 24th in the Associated Press poll in 2009 and 22nd in 2011, sandwiching a 6-7 season in 2010. The Tigers were picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State in a media poll.
“We need to put three, four, five good years together and I really think we’re built to make a run at Clemson,” said Swinney, noting the Tigers have only 11 seniors this season. “There’s no reason why Clemson can’t become that consistent winner and be that team that, nationally, people are expecting to be in the mix.”
2. The new nine-game scheduling format should be finalized by the league’s fall meetings beginning Oct. 1, if not earlier, associate commissioner Michael Kelly said. One element is set, that Atlantic Division teams will play five home league games in 2013 and in ensuing odd years over a six-year cycle. Coastal teams will play five home league games in even years. With Georgia Tech playing Georgia at home in odd years, that means that Tech will avoid the possibility of playing a guaranteed six road games in a season.
Kelly said there is a good chance that Tech’s request to break up its scheduling problem – having Clemson, Georgia and Virginia Tech at home in odd years and all on the road in even years – will be met.
“It’s one of the factors that we’re trying to find a solution to if we possibly can,” he said.
3. In a poll of 95 media members, Florida State was picked to win the ACC, with 60 votes. Virginia Tech was second with 18, followed by Clemson with 13 ,Georgia Tech with three and N.C. State with one. Georgia Tech was picked to finish second in the Coastal behind Virginia Tech, receiving 10 first-place votes to the Hokies’ 83. North Carolina received the other two.
Since the league split into two divisions in 2005, the Seminoles have now been picked to win the Atlantic or the league title seven out of eight seasons. Florida State has two Atlantic titles and one ACC title to show for it.
Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins was selected the ACC preseason player of the year by 25 voters, ahead of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (21 votes), Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel (19) and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd (18).
4. Miami coach Al Golden stood by his denial of allegations in a Yahoo report that said he had direct knowledge of NCAA recruiting violations committed by a former equipment manager, part of a larger pattern of violations that has placed the school under investigation. Golden was hired in Dec. 2010 in part to clean up the program.
“I was disappointed in the article Friday, first and foremost because of how it attacked my integrity, both personally and professionally,” he said. “I stand by my statement and I continue to do so. There’ll be a day I can refute that and discuss that and I look forward to that day. Now is not the time to do that.”
5. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said that his team “is a bowl team.” The Blue Devils’ last bowl appearance was in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. Cutcliffe said he has many more playmakers on the roster than in the past. Duke was 3-9 last year; its best season in his four seasons was a 5-7 record in 2009.
Said Cutcliffe, “They need to understand they’re expected to win and can win.”
Duke was picked to finish last in the Coastal Division, where it’s finished the past two seasons.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog