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ACC notebook: Clemson picked to win ACC; Pitt picked fifth in division

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 1:33 p.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gathered his football team for a recent meeting, grasped a college football preseason magazine and disrespectfully threw it in a garbage can.

The magazine's sin: It picked Clemson to win the ACC this season.

“It's so irrelevant,” Swinney said Monday after 120 media members at ACC media days jumped on board and picked Clemson to win the conference championship. “It has nothing to do with the season.”

No wonder Swinney trashed the magazine. Clemson was picked to win the championship by ACC writers only one other time since 1991. That was in 2008 when the Tigers finished 7-6.

This season, Pitt coach Paul Chryst's team was picked fifth in the Coastal Division. He has the same belief as his Clemson counterpart, with one difference: Chryst has no plans to make a scene at a meeting.

“(Dabo's) got a little more flair than I do,” Chryst said, laughing. “The good thing about it: None of it matters. You get to go out and play the game. That's what your focus needs to be.”

Other voting tidbits

Pitt received 313 points in the voting system, ahead of Virginia (230) and Duke (228). Miami is the choice to win the division (65 first-place votes) followed by Virginia Tech (27), North Carolina (22) and Georgia Tech (six). Syracuse, the ACC's other newcomer, was picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Division.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd received 105 votes to repeat as ACC Player of the Year. Miami running back Duke Johnson (four) was second. Others receiving votes were Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (three), North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner (two), Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner and Miami quarterback Stephen Morris (one).

Boyd not surprised

Boyd said he wasn't insulted when South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney accused him of being “scared every time we play them.” Boyd said he looks forward to their meeting Nov. 30, even though he was sacked six times in a 27-17 home loss to South Carolina last season.

“There's a lot of talking that goes on in college football, on the field and off the field,” said Boyd, who threw for 3,896 yards in 2012. “Honestly, it's not my focus. I think that'll take care of itself in November.”

Clowney made his comments during SEC media days last week. Boyd responded this week at ACC media days.

“Surprised? I wouldn't say I'm surprised. It's just the nature of the game,” he said. “At the same time, it's probably not something that I would do. He's a really good player, one of the better defensive players in the country. I respect the way he plays. I respect his game.

“I'm not afraid of anybody. Never been in my nature. Never been in my character. I'm a competitive guy. There's always talking on the field. This one came off the field. It'll be something else when we play those guys.”

New rule

ACC officiating coordinator Doug Rhoads conducted a seminar in which he talked about a new rule that calls for an automatic ejection for hitting an opponent with the crown of the helmet or making contact with a defenseless player.

He said there were 190 such incidents last year, 16 in the ACC.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997. John Harris contributed to this story.

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