Hokies, Noles are pick of ACC

Staff WriterJuly 28, 2009 

As far as surprises go, the media picks of Virginia Tech and Florida State to win their respective football divisions at the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro on Monday rank with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's split with Jessica Simpson.

It was bound to happen.

The Hokies have 15 starters from a team that won the ACC title the past two seasons. It's a minor upset that Virginia Tech didn't sweep all 87 first-place votes cast. (Georgia Tech got nine.)

Florida State was one of four Atlantic Division teams to get a first-place vote but still garnered a majority with 56. The Noles have fallen off their national perch in college football's hierarchy but still own ACC media day.

In 18 seasons in the league, the Noles have been picked 17 times to win either the conference or their division. They've been the writers' best friend, with 12 conference titles and a division crown.

Admittedly, picking FSU to win the ACC in the '90s was like judging the Miss Texas pageant -- it's impossible to go wrong.

Clemson's 14 first-place votes in the Atlantic were a minor surprise, given how many voters were burned by the Tigers last season. N.C. State (10) and Wake Forest (7) also picked up first-place votes.

One game separated all six Atlantic Division teams in the final standings last season with Boston College, picked last this season, winning the division with a 5-3 record.

"Nobody knows what's going to happen," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said.

UNC coach Butch Davis wasn't too concerned about the placement of the Tar Heels, who didn't get a first-place vote, at third in the Coastal Division.

"I'm surprised we were picked that high," Davis said, referring to the absence of wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate.

The biggest surprise came in the preseason player of the year voting. It was no shock that Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer received the most votes (39), but someone offered the creative choice of Virginia's Vic Hall.

One unidentified voter chose Hall, who started at safety for 11 games for the Cavaliers last season before taking over at quarterback in the finale against Virginia Tech. He rushed for 109 yards in that game, but since then former starter Jameel Sewell has returned to the program, which means Hall might not be the starting quarterback.

There's one thing about the preseason poll that hasn't changed -- Duke was picked last for the 10th straight season.

jp.giglio@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8938

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