ACC voters give Maryland and Virginia something in common

By Steve Yanda and Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The preseason ACC media poll was released on Monday and Maryland, fresh off a 2-10 season, was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division. The only ACC team to receive fewer votes than the Terrapins (139) was Virginia (126), which will be led by first-year coach Mike London.

Virginia Tech (532) was picked to win the conference title despite receiving fewer total votes than Florida State. The Seminoles, under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, garnered 565 votes and were picked to win the Atlantic Division. The Hokies were selected on 50 ballots to win the ACC crown, while Florida State earned 26 championship votes.

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder (45) was the media's choice as preseason ACC player of the year.

Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams (16) and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (11) were the only other ACC players to earn double-digit vote totals.

Reaching the fans

Since London accepted the Virginia head coaching job in December, his life has been a whirlwind of speaking -- whether at functions to fans and supporters, in interviews with reporters or pitching his program to recruits.

"I can't even begin to tell you how many races I've started and different things, chicken dinners and just all that stuff," London said. "I think it's necessary given that, when you say we want to be open and be accessible, be available, if you're going to start down that road, then you better make yourself open, accessible and available and include the fan base."

London said he cannot ask fans to support the team if he does not go and support the fans. That's why he's tried to ensure the team is seen, from a uniform unveiling to a bone marrow drive to a letter-writing contest for season tickets.

But even London admits it will go only so far. The results on the field will determine just how much U-Va. fans will ultimately buy into the London regime.

"Obviously, people want to come to the game and they want to see you compete and see you win," London said. "We need to be able to compete. That's the first thing. We need to compete on the field and show that we can hold our own against whoever we're playing and hopefully surprise some people. This is a process that's going to take place. This is not an overnight quick fix. . . . From recruiting to the community to the classroom, all the things we're talking about . . . this is what's going on. And hopefully people that are good fans look at it and they see the progress of all those things I just talked about, and then you have something going in."

U-Md.'s busy Labor Day

The Labor Day game between Maryland and Navy has been a matchup that Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen and former Navy coach Paul Johnson, now at Georgia Tech, always wanted to play.

"I think it's great for the state," Friedgen said. "I think it's great for high school football. I think it's an in-state rivalry we need. Navy plays Army, that's their big rivalry. But to have an in-state rivalry is good. The last time we played, we were fortunate to win, but to me it was a tremendous game. Packed house, pageantry was great, sportsmanship was great. . . . Two really great universities competing against each other. The sportsmanship, competitiveness and respect for each other was really what won out the day."

Said Johnson: "It used to be a huge rivalry because the two schools are about 20 miles apart."

When the teams last met in 2005, a 23-20 Terrapins victory, Johnson was building Navy's program and Maryland was at its apex under Friedgen. Now, the programs have reversed, and Johnson is curious who will be favored.

"Hopefully we have the same result, but Navy's [10-4] and we're 2-10," Friedgen said. "Things are a little different than when we started this thing."

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