ACC media days: Preseason poll no issue for Chryst


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It's no secret that Paul Chryst, like most of his colleagues, doesn't put much stock in preseason polls.

When informed that Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the ACC Coastal Division by the league media at ACC media days, it barely seemed to register.

"We're all experts, huh?" Chryst joked with a smile.

The projection puts Pitt exactly where it finished in 2013. It finished sixth with a 3-5 conference record.

Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech were picked to finish ahead of the Panthers, with Virginia bringing up the rear.

In a sign of the parity within Pitt's division, six of the seven Coastal teams received at least one first-place vote (Virginia was the only team that did not). Pitt received two first-place votes.

"I think all you needed was last year to prove it," Chryst said of the parity within the division. "Not just what Duke [winning the division] did but across [the board]."

Despite receiving the most first-place votes in the Coastal (33), the defending division champion Blue Devils finished 17 points behind Miami.

Defending national champion Florida State was picked to win the league by 104 of the 112 voters. The Seminoles also received 109 first-place votes to win the Atlantic Division.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston also ran away with the league's preseason player of the year voting, taking 99 of 112 votes.

Targeting rule changes

In 2013, one of the biggest changes ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads had to explain was the implementation of the NCAA's new targeting penalty.

He was at it again Monday, but only clarified some tweaks to the rule.

Most notably, if a targeting penalty is reversed on replay this season, not only is the offending player not ejected but the 15-yard penalty will also be wiped out.

Last year, even if the player was not ejected, the yardage penalty still stood.

Rhoads said there were 92 targeting penalties called last year, but 30 were overturned on review.

'Sometimes we'll err, but the err should always be on the side of safety," Rhoads said.

The only additional rule Rhoads announced was the addition of a penalty for low hits on the quarterback. Similar to the NFL rule, a player will get a 15-yard personal foul for any hit on or below a quarterback's knees while he's throwing.

Petrino returns to ACC

New Louisville coach Bobby Petrino made his ACC media days debut, and expressed his excitement to be back at Louisville and in the ACC.

Petrino coached the Cardinals from 2003-06. He was fired from Arkansas in 2012 amid scandal and spent 2013 as the head coach at Western Kentucky.

"The experiences I've had, I can help young men with the obstacles they're going to be presented with off the field," Petrino said.

The Cardinals open their ACC schedule with the league's Labor Day Monday night game against Miami.

New playoff system looms

Michael Kelly, COO of the College Football Playoff, spent Monday walking media members through mock selection processes for the forthcoming four-team playoff.

It's as simple as pitting No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in the semifinals, but there are some wrinkles. For instance, the No. 1 team cannot be put at a disadvantage in the semifinal, such as a northern team having to play LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

The 13-member selection committee will meet weekly beginning in October and release a weekly top 25. The semifinal pairings -- as well as the other four New Years Eve and Day bowl games -- will be announced the day after conference championships.

Sam Werner: and Twitter @SWernerPG.

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