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Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Nick Saban on title game loss to Clemson: “I’ll never get over it”

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As much as college football coaches preach about moving on to the game in front of them, past results have a history of lingering in their minds.

Even Nick Saban, when not sparring with assistants, tends to dwell on losses and perhaps none was more painful to the Crimson Tide head coach than losing to Clemson in the final second of the national title game. While the future Hall of Famer is clearly focused on the 2017 season in Tuscaloosa, it seems a part of him still can’t get past what happened this past January.

“I’ll never get over it because you never do with those kind of losses,” Saban told ESPN. “I never got over the returned field goal at Auburn. I never got over playing poorly against Ohio State and losing that game late. And then in this game, we didn’t play very well, and Clemson did when they had to. That’s what eats at you.

“Something happened to our team from the SEC championship game to the playoff. You look at the Clemson game, and our really good players didn’t play very well. But Clemson was a damn good team. They were the best team we played against with the best quarterback, and where we needed to play well, we didn’t.”

Saban isn’t exactly breaking any news with that kind of message and continued to take blame for not getting the team ready to play after winning the conference title. He also downplayed losing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after the Peach Bowl and bringing in Steve Sarkisian, noting it didn’t have as much of an impact as many thought given how defensive lapses down the stretch plagued Alabama in the title game.

The Tide wrap up spring football on Saturday with their eyes focused on avenging that loss and getting back to the College Football Playoff once again but Saban, true to his self, cautioned that getting back to the promised land wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” he added about this year’s team.

ACC confirms conference’s football title game returning to Charlotte

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After a one-year sabbatical, the ACC’s football championship game is returning to the state of North Carolina.

Late last month, shortly after the state announced that it had replaced the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2), the ACC Council of Presidents voted that the state would again be considered as venues for future league championships.  Wednesday, the conference confirmed that this year’s football title game will again be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Furthermore, to in some ways compensate the city for its one-year loss of the game, the ACC announced that the agreement to play the game in Charlotte has been extended through the 2020 season. The original agreement was expected to expire in 2019.

The league also noted in its release that “[c]hampionship events in women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis will also return to the state during the 2017-18 academic year, and the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship will follow suit in November 2018.”

“We are pleased that ACC neutral site championships will return to the state of North Carolina beginning with the 2017-18 academic year,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “We value all of our partners in North Carolina and appreciate their support and cooperation. We are thrilled to renew our relationships with so many terrific people, outstanding cities and first-class venues.”

The ACC announced in late September of last year that the football championship game for the 2016 season would be played in Orlando.

The move to Orlando came almost two weeks to the day that the ACC announced it was yanking the title game away from the city of Charlotte and out of the state of North Carolina. The move was in response to HB2, a law which some claimed fostered discrimination against members of the LGBT communities.

Charlotte had played host to the ACC football championship game every year since 2010. Prior to 2010, the first three league title tilts were played in Jacksonville (2005-07) and the next two in Tampa (2008-09).

Clemson FB Garrett Williams suffers torn ACL

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Clemson fullback Garrett Williams has suffered a torn ACL, the program announced Tuesday.

Williams has already undergone surgery to repair the ailment after sustaining the injury during spring drills. His availability for the beginning of fall camp is as yet unknown.

Williams appeared in all 30 games over the past two seasons. An Orlando native, Williams has not recorded a rush in his career but has caught two passes for 21 yards while helping to clear the way for a running game that has totaled 5,891 yards in the Tigers’ back-to-back runs to the ACC championship and the 2016 national title.

Clemson grad transfer Scott Pagano opts for Oregon over Oklahoma

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We already knew the two schools a prominent graduate transfer would move on to. Now we know which one specifically.

On his Instagram account Friday, Scott Pagano announced that he has decided to transfer to Oregon for his final season of eligibility.  The 6-3, 295-pound defensive tackle had confirmed earlier in the week that he would be committing to either Oregon or Oklahoma.

To My Family, Friends and Supporters: I want to thank all of you who supported me and my decision to transfer over the last few months. When I announced my intentions, I didn’t know how people would react.  Thankfully almost everyone was respectful of my decision and wished me well on my journey. I’m very appreciative of that and it definitely speaks volumes of the class and character of my Clemson Family.  After taking several visits, I can honestly say there is no place like Clemson. A part of me will always miss Clemson and the relationships I have built here. I’ll definitely be back to visit. After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to transfer to the University of Oregon for my final year of eligibility and to pursue a Sports Management Master’s. This was a tough decision because of all the great programs that expressed interest in me along with having to leave Clemson. I want to thank all the coaches that took the time to get to know me during this process. However, Oregon is where I felt most at home and it is a great fit for me both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get to Eugene to start making new friends and playing for and learning from one of the best DLine coaches in the country. Last but definitely not least, I have to thank my mom, dad, sisters and the rest of my family for supporting me through this process and my entire football career. I know these past few months were not easy on you. I want you to know that I am thankful and feel blessed to have a family who is willing to make sacrifices day end and day out so that I can pursue my dreams. Mahalo and Go Ducks!!!

A post shared by Scott J Pagano Jr. (@scottpagano56) on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:03am PDT

Pagano had previously taken official visits to both Oklahoma and Oregon.  Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.  Cal and Nebraska were also a part of the process.

Pagano graduated from Clemson in December.  Two months later, the defensive lineman decided to transfer from the reigning national champions.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.