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For now, ACC tables talk over eight- or nine-game league slate

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The Big 12, Pac-12 and, this season, the Big Ten will all play a nine-game league schedule this season.  Whether the ACC joins them at some point in the future remains to be determined.

Earlier this week it was reported that ESPN had gained scheduling concessions from the ACC in exchange for a conference network set to launch in 2019.  As part of those concessions, the ACC has to determine whether it wants to play eight conference games and two non-conference games against Power Five teams each season, or nine conference games plus one Power Five non-conference game.

Friday morning, ACC commissioner John Swofford and the conference’s 14 athletic directors participated in a conference call to discuss the scheduling issue, with the potential existing for a vote on the preference moving forward.  Instead, the league has tabled the talk for the moment.

“ACC athletic directors remained deadlocked Friday on the league’s future football scheduling model and delayed resolution, perhaps until October’s annual fall meeting,” David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press wrote.

Before concessions were made to ESPN in order to acquire their own network, it’s believed the conference’s athletic directors were 8-6 in favor of an eight-game slate.  A nine-game schedule would allow for teams to play those in the other division more often, and there seems to be a growing sentiment in favor of that tack.

According to Teel, however, “[s]chools with annual state rivalries against Southeastern Conference opponents – Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Louisville – advocate 8-plus-2.”  North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia are among those who favor the 9-plus-1 model.

Injuries force NCSU’s Coult Culler to end playing career

Coult Culler
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After moving around North Carolina State’s depth chart since coming to Raleigh, Coult Culler is now moving on.

NCSU has confirmed that, because of recurring injuries, Culler has decided to step away from the sport of football and put an end to his playing career.  In the press release, the school did not specify what injury or injuries Culler has been dealing with.

“Coult is a very loved member of this team,” said head coach Dave Doeren in a statement. “He’s played multiple positions so he’s worked with a lot of coaches and has learned a great deal during his time here. He will continue to be around the team and will be a big part of our program, he just won’t put on pads every day.”

A three-star member of the Wolfpack’s 2014 recruiting class, Culler was rated as the No. 34 player at any position in the state of North Carolina.

While he came to the program as a linebacker, he put on 40-plus pounds during his true freshman season and was moved to defensive line prior to the start of the 2015 season.  That year as a redshirt freshman, Culler played in four games.

This spring, he was moved to the offensive line and was competing for a starting guard job.

ACC media poll has Clemson repeating as conference champions

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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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.