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ACC football media day: Attaochu regrets punch
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
and STEVE DeSHAZO
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Georgia Tech linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said he had an “out-of-body competitive reaction” last fall when he punched Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas out of frustration in the Yellow Jackets’ loss to the Hokies.
The 15-yard personal foul penalty turned out to be a key play in Virginia Tech’s 37–26 comeback victory. Attaochu was suspended for a half, and he apologized to Thomas via text message following the game.
Both Attaochu and Thomas were on hand on Sunday for Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff media day. They said there are no hard feelings as they posed for pictures together, and each was able to laugh while discussing the incident.
Attaochu said it’s a tough job trying to tackle the 6-foot-6, 262-pound Thomas, who he said “looks like a defensive end.”
The Yellow Jackets will visit the Hokies for the season opener on Sept. 3, and Attaochu said preparing for Thomas is virtually impossible.
“There’s nothing you can do,” Attaochu said. “You might need to get [Carolina Panthers quarterback] Cam Newton to run your scout team.”
This goes to 14
Pittsburgh and Syracuse will officially join the ACC on July 1, 2013, after negotiating early exits from the Big East Conference, giving the ACC 14 member schools and triggering a nine-game conference schedule (up from eight in 2012). Commissioner John Swofford said the ACC will not assist in either school’s early-exit payout (reportedly $7.5 million each).
Officials at Clemson and Florida State also publicly discussed interest in joining the carousel of conference realignment, but Swofford recently met with Clemson’s board of trustees. Asked how confident he was in avoiding defections, he said. “In a word, totally.
Swofford said improving the league’s 3–12 record in BCS bowl games is vital to the league’s chances of landing a team in the annual four-team playoff that will begin after the 2014 season, which he called “the best of both worlds” because if preserves the current bowl system.
Swofford said the league pushed for criteria in selecting semifinalists to include winning a conference championship, as well as strength of schedule. He pointed to interconference games as a chance to upgrade the league’s second-tier image.
“If we perform well, we will be appropriately rewarded,” he said. “We need to take advantage of our opportunities. If you win your share of them, that’s not even part of the conversation.”
A dreadful image
Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel called himself an avid video game player. But he said he declined to buy EA Sports’ NCAA College Football 13 game when it depicted him with long hair flowing from the back of his helmet.
“The dreadlocks upset me,” said Manuel, who keeps his hair short. “I’ve never had dreadlocks in my life. It upset my mom, too. If she could have recalled all the games, she would have.”
Sympathy from coaches
On the eve of the NCAA’s announcement of penalties against Penn State, the ACC’s coaches jointly issued the following statement:
“The situation at Penn State is a tragedy from all angles, most specifically for the victims. It’s our responsibility to represent the institutions we serve, while always being mindful of our place within collegiate athletics.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526