December 2, 2013

Insider Report: ACC reduces tickets for title game, All-ACC team snubs FSU D

After both teams lost money in last year's ACC championship game, the conference decreased the number of tickets available for each school for 2013.

In previous years, the ACC allocated 10,000 tickets to each school to sell, and covered part of the expenses for tickets not sold. However, that didn't stop both Florida State and Georgia Tech from losing money in a poorly-attended game in Charlotte.

In response to an initiative from the member schools, the ACC cut the allocated tickets to 5,500 for this season. The hope is that fewer tickets will limit each school's financial liability, according to ACC spokesperson Mike Finn.

So far, at least, it seems to be working. As of Monday, Florida State said it has sold 4,000 tickets for the game. Duke coach David Cutcliffe also said the Blue Devils have already sold out a few packages of tickets.

In 2013, FSU lost a whopping $478,000 on the title game. Georgia Tech lost $375,370. After the losses became public, ACC Commissioner John Swofford publicly stated that those kinds of loses shouldn't happen.

It's unclear what kind of affect FSU's national title hopes will have on attendance for the ACC title game. The Seminoles are the No. 1 team in the country and facing a Duke team in the midst of a historically successful season and ranked No. 20 in the country. But the Seminoles are still a four-touchdown favorite and it's unclear if FSU fans will want to hoof it to Charlotte or save money for a potential trip to Pasadena.

"I promise you, if there's five people in the stands or it's sold out, we're going to be there and play, I promise you that," Fisher said. "I think it'll be a tremendous following. I think everybody will go, and it sounds like there's a lot of excitement about it down here anyway."

And Cutcliffe said there's still plenty of excitement in Durham, despite the spread of the game.

"I know that they were going really fast here, and I'm excited about that," Cutcliffe said. "It's obviously a great geographic location for Duke fans, and last year we had probably 25,000 mappable Duke fans at the Belk Bowl. So I certainly think we can certainly match that in this circumstance."

All-ACC Snubs no concern for FSU

The All-ACC teams were released on Monday, and Florida State's defense was noticeably absent.

The Seminoles have the No. 2 scoring defense in the country. But that apparently didn't translate well in the All-ACC voting: Just one FSU player was named first-team All-ACC - and it wasn't who some thought.

Safety Terrence Brooks wasn't surprised to find just one FSU player was on the ballot. But when told it wasn't defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, Brooks' jaw dropped.

The one candidate for FSU was Lamarcus Joyner, who's also a finalist for defensive player of the year. And while Jernigan and the rest of FSU's defensive line don't have the numbers of first-teamers Nikita Whitlock (Wake Forest) and Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh) due to limited minutes, Brooks said the snubs likely wouldn't be used as bulletin-board material.

"That's just clutter," Brooks said. "As Jimbo would say. That's all outside stuff."

FSU's offense was well-represented on the team, but redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo was not the first-team kicker, despite being a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for best kicker in the nation. Aguayo didn't know about the team until told in post-practice interviews - but it wasn't all bad. Shortly thereafter, Aguayo filled out paperwork for the Groza Award.

Wilcox riding the wave against former school

Duke probably wasn't on the list of possible ACC title contenders at the start of the season. But at least one highly placed source in FSU's athletic department had an inkling of what might happen in 2013.

New athletic director Stan Wilcox came to FSU from Duke, where he was the No. 2 administrator in that athletic department. He said it's been fun to see Duke's rise from the cellar of college football to ACC Coastal champs and said he'll enjoy reconnecting with some of his former colleagues in Charlotte.

"I'm so happy for coach Cut and Duke," Wilcox said. "They really over the past five years really built that program and it's on track to where they knew it would be. They executed everything."

Wilcox said he'd followed Duke's season from Tallahassee, but added now that he's at FSU, there are no mixed emotions in the title game.

"It's going to be a great time seeing some of the old buddies and players and administrators, but like I said in my press conference, I'm all the way in the chop right now," Wilcox said.

Wilcox said he sees plenty of similarities between Duke coach David Cutcliffe and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, having worked with both.

"Both are offensive coordinators and have had great quarterbacks they have molded and mentored, and coaches they have had under their tutelage," Wilcox said. "It's definitely going to be a battle of wits in a sense out there on the field. I just think Duke has come a long way. They've got great talent, but I think we may have just a little bit more talent. "

In truth, the past few months have been something of a whirlwind for Wilcox: He's gone from the No. 2 administrator at Duke to heading up at FSU, the prohibitive favorite to play for a national title in January. He's also got plenty else on his plate; a possible contract extension for Fisher near the top of that list.

"It's fantastic," Wilcox said. "You just don't get that. It's only what the third time ever in FSU history doing that, and for that to be my first year it's like I caught the big wave in Hawaii and I'm just trying to ride it in to shore. I think we have a great chance at winning the ACC and going out to Pasadena for the championship game."

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