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:
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
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
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.
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.
The news was decidedly negative when it comes to one offensive playmaker for Miami earlier today, but it’s 180 degrees when it comes to another.
Monday morning, charges of driving under the influence and knowingly driving with a suspended license were dropped against Mark Walton. Monday evening, Miami announced that the running back, indefinitely suspended since April, has been reinstated to the football program.
Still left up in the air, however, was whether Mark Richt would suspend the back. Friday, the head coach took to Twitter to reveal the answer to that particular question.
As a true freshman last season, Walton led the Hurricanes with nine rushing touchdowns and 10 total touchdowns, and was second with 450 yards rushing. His 293 receiving yards were fifth on the team and tops among running backs. He was also second on the team with 1,054 all-purpose yards.
It appears Miami’s receiving corps has taken another hit, this one of the, potentially, long-term variety.
Earlier this week, a report surfaced that four-star 2016 signee Sam Bruce, expected to contribute to the Hurricanes immediately in both the passing game and on special teams, could be facing at least a one-game suspension for an incident that happened while he was in high school. Today brings word that, according to the Palm Beach Post, Lawrence Cager seriously injured his right knee during a 7-on-7 workout recently.
According to the Post, the receiver could miss the entire 2016 season.
UM has yet to address what if any injury issue the 6-5, 215-pound sophomore may be facing.
Cager played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2015, starting one of those contests. He caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
UPDATED 4:01 p.m. ET: Miami has confirmed that Cager will miss the entire 2016 season after sustained what was described as a right-knee injury. He suffered the unspecified injury during a workout yesterday.