Boston College Eagles

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 7: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers pumps up fans prior to the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
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ACC media poll has Clemson repeating as conference champions

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DeShaun Watson is back from last year’s College Football Playoff runner-up, and with that, there was little debate in the ACC media poll about who will repeat as conference champions in 2016.

Clemson, with 144 votes, was picked to repeat as ACC champions in the conference’s annual media poll. Florida State (39), North Carolina (seven) and Louisville (one) also received votes.

Watson, the Tigers’ junior quarterback, was picked to be the ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (18), North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (four), Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (two), Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (two) and Duke cornerback/returner DeVon Edwards (one) also received player of the year votes.

Here’s how the voting broke down by division, with first-place votes in parentheses:

Atlantic                    
1. Clemson (148) – 1,293
2. Florida State (42) – 1,176
3. Louisville (1) – 961
4. NC State – 704
5. Boston College – 441
6. Syracuse – 426
7. Wake Forest – 347
Coastal                
1. North Carolina (121) – 1,238
2. Miami (50) – 1,108
3. Pitt (14) – 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) – 697
5. Duke (2) – 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) – 588
7. Virginia – 261

It’s official: ACC Network coming to your TV in 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 05:  (L-R) Commissioner of the ACC, John Swofford, speaks with head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers after they defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 45-37 at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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What was rumored on Tuesday become official on Thursday: ESPN and ACC will launch the much-awaited ACC Network in 2019.

The announcement came at a press conference/pep rally to open the conference’s media days in Charlotte, with the entire delegations from the conference and the Worldwide Leader in attendance.

The partnership will create an online-only digital network starting next month and a linear cable operation by 2019. ESPN and the ACC will combine to produce 600 events beginning this year, with the number rising to 1,300 by 2019.

“On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, Faculty Athletics Representatives and our ACC Television Committee, we are tremendously pleased to further enhance our long-term partnership with ESPN that includes the creation of the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, and positions the conference for the long-term future,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “This partnership continues to be a win-win for ESPN and the ACC. ESPN is the premier provider in sports content and this agreement will deliver unprecedented coverage to our fans, while highlighting our quality student-athletes, coaches and institutions.”

The network, which figures to be headquartered in Charlotte alongside ESPNU and the SEC Network, will show 40 football games a year and 150 basketball games. The conference will up its league hoops schedule to 20 games per year once the network goes live in 2019.

“We look forward to working with our longtime partners at the ACC to create a network that reflects the depth and quality of its athletes and teams, and serves the fans who passionately support them. We are proud and excited to add the ACC Network to our industry-leading college content offerings,” ESPN president John Skipper said. 

ESPN to reportedly launch ACC Network by 2019

John Swofford
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The ACC won’t begin its media days until later this week, but John Swofford and company have already won the Talking Season championship.

According to reports from ESPN and Sports Business Daily, the conference has reached an agreement with ESPN to launch a digital network later this year and a linear cable network by 2019. The conference has also signed a new Grant of Rights with its 15 members that will stretch until 2035-36.

“When the ACC Network revenues are included, the ACC will be very competitive with the upper tier [Big Ten and SEC] of the Power 5 leagues,” a source told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

John Ourand and Michael Smith of SBJ reported ACC Network will carry 40 football games and 15o basketball games a year. ACC Network Plus, a digital network that will replace the ACC content on ESPN3, will launch this year and carry 600 “Olympic-style” events per year.

In addition to the Grant of Rights, McMurphy reported Notre Dame has now contractually obligated itself to join the ACC should it choose to forfeit independence at any point over the next two decades.

Swofford and the conference are expected to make the news official when ACC media days begin on Thursday.

2015 finalist Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State headlines Butkus Award watch list

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Max Wittek #13 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors looks to elude the defense of Raekwon McMillan #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the third quarter at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Hawaii 38-0.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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I’m running out of ways to lead these things, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

Tuesday, yet another watch list was released, with the Butkus Award unveiling its list of 51 linebackers to watch this season.  The Butkus Award, given out annually since 1985 to the nation’s best linebacker, is named in honor of former Illinois great Dick Butkus.

Last year’s award went to Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith.  Raekwon McMillan, he of the getting-trucked-by-a-woman McMillans, made this year’s watch list after being a finalist for last year’s award.

The SEC led all conferences with 12 selections, followed by the Big Ten’s 10.  The Big 12 and ACC were next with six and five players, respectively, while the AAC and Mountain West led Group of Five leagues with four each.  That’s the same number as the Pac-12.

The Sun Belt was the lone FBS conference without a representative.

Alabama was the only school with three linebackers selected.  Houston, Kansas State, Louisville, Ohio State and Penn State, with two each, were the only other programs with more than one.

There is also one non-FBS watch lister: Nick DeLuca of FCS power North Dakota State.

Below is the complete 2016 Butkus Award preseason watch list:

Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Kendall Beckwith, LSU
Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
Dante Booker, Ohio State
Ben Boulware, Clemson
Tyus Bowser, Houston
Richie Brown, Mississippi State
Riley Bullough, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, Penn State
Jeff Camilli, Fresno State
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Jermaine Carter, Maryland
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Kevin Davis, Colorado State
Jarrad Davis, Florida
Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas
Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Devonte’ Fields, Louisville
Salamo Fiso, Arizona State
Reuben Foster, Alabama
T.J. Holloman, South Carolina
Travin Howard, TCU
Shane Huber, UMass
Malik Jefferson, Texas
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Peter Kalambayi, Stanford
Harvey Kangi, BYU
Keith Kelsey, Louisville
Micah Kiser, Virginia
Elijah Lee, Kansas State
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
Matt Milano, Boston College
Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State
Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
Calvin Munson, San Diego State
Hardy Nickerson, Illinois
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
T.J. Ricks, Old Dominion
Auggie Sanchez, USF
Michael Scherer, Missouri
Cameron Smith, USC
Steven Taylor, Houston
Austin Valdez, Bowling Green
Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
Azeem Victor, Washington
Anthony Walker, Northwestern
Nyeem Warman-White, Penn State
Tim Williams, Alabama
Eric Wilson, Cincinnati
Taylor Young, Baylor

ACC releases list of players attending media days

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 10:  Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles rushes for a touchdown during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The SEC’s done it.  So have the Big 12 and Big Ten.  Now, it’s another Power Five’s turn to do.

The it, as the headline suggests, is the players attending media days, which the ACC revealed to the masses Monday afternoon.  The 14 teams that make up the ACC will send, along with their head coaches, two players from each of their teams to the July 21-22 event in Charlotte.

In a refreshing change, as many linebackers ( six) will be in attendance as quarterbacks (six).  Four defensive linemen have been invited, three each of running backs, offensive linemen and defensive backs will take part.  Interestingly, two of the three linemen are centers, while all three defensive backs are cornerbacks.

Also, for those interested, one punter is on the list — Miami’s Justin Vogel.

Below is the complete list of attendees for the 2016 ACC Media Days:

Boston College
Myles Willis, Running Back, 5-9, 194, Senior, Conyers, Ga.
Matt Milano, Linebacker, 6-1, 218, Senior, Orlando, Fla.

Clemson
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, 6-2, 210, Junior, Gainesville, Ga.
Ben Boulware, Linebacker, 5-11, 240, Senior, Anderson, S.C.

Duke
Thomas Sirk, Quarterback, 6-4, 220, Senior-R, Glen St. Mary, Fla.
DeVon Edwards, Cornerback, 5-9, 180, Senior-R, Covington, Ga.

Florida State
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, 5-11, 206, Junior, Fla., Miami, Fla.
DeMarcus Walker, Defensive End, 6-3, 273, Senior, Jacksonville, Fla.

Georgia Tech
Justin Thomas, Quarterback, 5-11, 185, Senior-R, Prattville, Ala.
Patrick Gamble, Defensive Line, 6-5, 277, Senior, Carrollton, Ga.

Louisville
Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, 6-3, 196, Sophomore, Boynton Beach, Fla.
Keith Kelsey, Linebacker, 6-1, 236, Senior, Gainesville, Fla.

Miami
Brad Kaaya, Quarterback, 6-4, 210, Junior, Los Angeles, Calif.
Justin Vogel, Punter, 6-4, 208, Senior, Tampa, Fla.

North Carolina
Ryan Switzer, Wide Receiver-Punt Returner, 5-10, 185, Senior, Charleston, W.Va.
Des Lawrence, Cornerback, 6-1, 185, Senior, Charlotte, N.C.

North Carolina State
Matthew Dayes, Running Back, 5-9, 203, Senior, Weston, Fla.
Jack Tocho, Cornerback, 6-0, 200, Senior, Charlotte, N.C.

Pittsburgh
Nathan Peterman, Quarterback, 6-2, 225, Senior-R, Jacksonville, Fla.
Ejuan Price, Defensive End, 6-0, 250, Senior-R, Rankin, Pa.

Syracuse
Jason Emerich, Center, 6-3, 284, Senior-R, New Ringgold, Pa.
Zaire Franklin, Linebacker, 6-0, 229, Junior, Philadelphia, Pa.

Virginia
Jackson Matteo, Center, 6-5, 290, Senior-R, Ashburn, Va.
Micah Kiser, Linebacker, 6-2, 245, Junior-R, Baltimore, Md.

Virginia Tech
Sam Rogers, Fullback, 5-10, 228, Senior, Mechanicsville, Va.
Ken Ekanem, Defensive End, 6-3, 255, Senior-R, Centreville, Va.

Wake Forest
Tyler Hayworth, Offensive Tackle, 6-4, 325, Senior-R, Kingsport, Tenn.
Marquel Lee, Linebacker, 6-3, 235, Senior, Waldorf, Md.