North Carolina Tar Heels

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.

Injury, surgery to sideline Tar Heels starting guard John Ferranto for all of 2016

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Less than three weeks before the start of summer camp, North Carolina has taken a significant hit along its offensive line.

With speculation swirling, UNC confirmed in a press release that senior offensive lineman John Ferranto sustained a torn pectoral muscle during a workout this past Monday.  As a result, he will miss the entire 2016 season.

The estimated time of recovery is six months, which would put him back in mid-February.  It’s unclear if Ferranto, who took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2012, would be eligible for a sixth season in 2017, or if he’d even want to.

Regardless, Ferranto’s position coach described the situation as “a big blow.”

The past two seasons, Ferranto made 17 starts at left tackle. Exiting spring, he was penciled in as the starting right guard.

Hornung Award watch list headlined by 2015 winner Christian McCaffrey

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Running back Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal stiff arms cornerback Iman Marshall #8 of the USC Trojans on a kick return during the first quarter of the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi's Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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And then there were none.

The avalanche of watch lists (I believe) (I hope) has come to a merciful end for another year, with the Hornung Award becoming the final college football honor to be released.  This year’s Hornung Award consists of 43 players, including 2015 winner Christian McCaffrey of Stanford.

Additionally, two other 2015 finalists have returned as watch listers — Adoree’ Jackson of USC and Jabrill Peppers of Michigan.

First given out in 2010, the Hornung Award, named in honor of Notre Dame legend Paul Hornung, honors the nation’s most versatile player.

“I’m ecstatic that the Paul Hornung Award has gained national prominence in such a short time,” Hornung said in a statement. “During the past six years the quality of our winners, finalists and weekly honorees has been impressive, and I’m pleased that we are able to acknowledge outstanding players who contribute any way possible to help their teams win the way I did.

“I enjoy following the players on our Watch List and watching many of our winners and finalists from the first six years as they make their marks in the NFL.”

From the award’s release:

The 2016 Watch List is composed of 21 seniors, 13 juniors and nine sophomores who start at a total of seven different positions, and represent 42 universities and all 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Pac-12 leads the conferences with eight players followed by the ACC and SEC with seven players and the Big Ten with six players.

Below is the complete 2016 Paul Hornung Award preseason watch list:

Ishmael Adams, UCLA
Victor Bolden Jr., Oregon State
Antonio Callaway, Florida
Seth Collins, Oregon State
Jared Cornelius, Arkansas
Tim Crawley, San Jose State
DeVon Edwards, Duke
Brisly Estime, Syracuse
Johnathan Ford, Auburn
Janarion Grant, Rutgers
Nyheim Hines, NC State
Brandon Holloway, Mississippi State
Adoree’ Jackson, USC
D’Ernest Johnson, South Florida
Quay Johnson, East Carolina
Xavier Johnson, South Alabama
Corey Jones, Toledo
Desmond King, Iowa
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Donovan Lee, Colorado
William Likely, Maryland
Jalen McCleskey, Oklahoma State
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana Lafayette
Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia
Charles Nelson, Oregon
Zach Pascal, Old Dominion
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
Trevor Ryen, Iowa State
Artavis Scott, Clemson
R.J. Shelton, Michigan State
Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Jahad Thomas, Temple
Aregeros Turner, Northern Illinois
KaVontae Turpin, TCU
Tim White, Arizona State
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh
Brandon Wilson, Houston
Dontre Wilson, Ohio State
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia