Pitt picked sixth in ACC Coastal Division

Written by Sam Werner on .

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the ACC's Coastal Division by the league media at the ACC Football Kickoff Monday.

The Panthers finished sixth in the division last year with a 3-5 conference record.
Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Georgia Tech were all picked to finish ahead of the Panthers, with Virginia bringing up the rear.
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.
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.

Championship vote
Florida State - 104
Clemson - 2
Virginia Tech - 2

Atlantic Division (first-place votes in parentheses)
Florida State (109) - 670
Clemson (3) - 660
Louisville - 564
Syracuse - 368
North Carolina State - 326
Boston College - 301
Wake Forest - 136

Coastal Division (first-place votes in parentheses)
Miami (26) - 614
Duke (33) - 597
Virginia Tech (23) - 571
North Carolina (27) - 570
Georgia Tech (1) - 322
Pitt (2) - 319
Virginia - 142

ACC Player of the Year
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State - 99
Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson - 6
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami - 1
Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke - 1
Brenden Motley, QB, Virginia Tech - 1



For the record, here's my ballot, with a few thoughts:

Champion: Florida State

Player of the Year: Jameis Winston

Atlantic Division
Florida State
Boston College
N.C. State
Wake Forest

Coastal Division
North Carolina
Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech

For me, picking the champion and player of the year was pretty easy. When you have a defending national champion and Heisman Trophy winner coming back in the conference, those guys get the votes. Similarly, in the Atlantic, I think there's a pretty clear-cut top three, and then a drop off after that. I think Clemson should keep things rolling with Chad Morris calling the offense, and the Tigers return probably the best defensive player in the conference in Vic Beasley. Losing Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will hurt, but I think Clemson should still be good enough to finish second to Florida State (though I wouldn't be surprised to see Louisville challenge for that spot). Beyond that, I think Boston College is going to take a step forward under Steve Addazio, and move up to the top of that second tier.

Moving into the Coastal, it really is a crapshoot. I went with the Tar Heels mostly because I like Marquise Williams at quarterback and that team came on so well at the end of last year, I like the momentum they have heading into 2014. More than anything, though, every team has major questions. Miami, which was picked to win the division, doesn't have a solid quarterback situation and its best player (running back Duke Johnson) is coming off major leg surgery. If things come together for them, the Hurricanes could certainly be a major player in the ACC, but that's a pretty big "if." There's a legitimate question if Duke can repeat what it did last year, especially without quarterback Brandon Connette, who only played a part-time role but was lethal in the red zone for he Blue Devils.

Honestly, if I could I would have just picked North Carolina, Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech to finish in a tie for first, because any of those six teams could realistically win the division. It'll most likely come down to some tiebreakers and, even though I picked Pitt fifth, I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish higher than that.


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Summer lilies thrive, first calla, Stargazer and doubles too

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog stargazer horizontal 2a'Stargazer' is such a wonderful sight in the summer garden. Photos by Doug Oster

I don't know what the summer garden would be without lilies. 'Stargazer' is very common because it's so easy to grow and beautiful. This plant is just a few years old and grows where it doesn't get enough sun, but blooms like a champ. In my garden lilies need staked. It's a little too shady for them, so they get top heavy and flop over without support.

blog first callaI've always loved calla lilies since I first saw them in a catalog over 20 years ago. I'm glad I finally got around to growing some of the bulbs.

Above is my first calla lily ever! I've coveted them for over 20 years, just never got around to growing them. I picked up the bulbs for a song last winter, from a nursery who wanted to give them a good home. They were stored with my dahlia and begonia tubers all winter long in vermiculite and resurrected in early summer. I just planted the bulbs in my containers of annuals and now they are blooming strong. Nurseries are selling lily plants and bulbs at a discount right now, you could enjoy the blooms this season and for many more to come.

I'll save these calla bulbs at the end of the season and detail the process after the first frost.

Below are double lilies sent to me to trial from Longfield Gardens. This is their second season and the flowers are thriving. They don't produce pollen, so they aren't a mess as cut flowers, yet retain their fragrance. It's always fun to grow something before it's released, but there's responsibility too. I always hope the new varieties are worth the trouble, these flowers are winners. If they bloom like this in part shade, I can't imagine what they will look like in full sun. Since I love anything that flowers as a double, these lilies are for me.

blog double longfield liliesThese double lilies from Longfield Gardens are amazing.

blog longfield doubles tight

During warm, humid nights and mornings, these lilies release their magical aroma and it fills the garden. They make wonderful cut flowers, which brings the fragrance indoors for all to enjoy.

blog stargazer tightTight shot of a 'Stargazer.'

blog lily and cool green spiderIt was cool to see this fluorescent green spider on a lily bud.


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Horse Power: Band of Horses rides hard at Stage AE

Written by Scott Mervis on .

BandofHorsesThe soaring vocals you hear from Ben Bridwell on the Band of Horses records are exactly what you get live, as impressively displayed once again Sunday night at Stage AE.

What people might not expect from Band of Horses is how much the band rocks live. And the volume at which it does. It was no surprise that it inserted Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Powderfinger” into the set.

We last saw BOH when it opened for My Morning Jacket on the outdoor side of the venue two years ago. This time, Band of Horses, still touring post-“Mirage Rock,” did an expanded set indoors with an acoustic version of Midlake.

Over four albums, Band of Horses has straddled a line between epic shoegazer-ish indie-rock and a folk-rock revival approach, giving it a healthy flexibility live. Textured beauties like “Factory” and “Is There a Ghost” are set aside flat-out rockers like “NW Apt.,” which was delivered with punk fury.

The harmonies are in beautiful hands with Bridwell and Tyler Ramsey, a (super tall!) singer-guitarist who is a force on his own (check out his stunning solo album “A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea”).

Singers with the high lonesome range of Bridwell tend to be aloof frontmen. He is anything but, with a friendly, happy, energetic stage presence. After a few songs, his hair was soaked with sweat.

The band, which is working on a new album, put “Mirage Rock” aside to focus on the first three records, with such favorites as the slow, folky “Marry Song,” the lush “No One’s Gonna Love You,” poppier “Weed Party” and rushing beauties “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” and “The Funeral.”

The encore had Bridwell on slide for “Monsters” and “The First Song,” just adding another element to the band’s immense talent.

Opening was a depleted Midlake, playing as an acoustic trio and minus departed frontman Tim Smith. If you weren’t familiar with the Denton, Texas, band’s personnel, you might not notice much difference. Singer-guitarist Eric Pulido steps in nicely, leading the band’s warm, mid-range harmonies, at their best on “Head Home” and “Roscoe.” Jesse Chandler fleshed out the earthy sound on keyboards and flute, and Joey McClellan handled the guitar leads. Midlake capped its set with a cover of the Dylan/Band song “I Shall Be Released.”



Marry Song
Islands on the Coast
NW Apt.
No One’s Gonna Love You
Blue Beard
Everything’s Gonna Be Undone
Ode to LRC
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
Our Swords
Powderfinger (Neil Young cover)
Weed Party
The Great Salt Lake
Is There a Ghost
The Funeral

The First Song
The General Specific

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Big 12 boss Bob Bowlsby: 'Change is coming,' and you won't like it

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

DALLAS — Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby kicked off the 2014 Big 12 Media Days with a thorough and rather gloom-and-doom 45-minute session. There are plenty of interesting thoughts to glean, and I'll recap later, but here's the full transcript. It's worth a read.

THE MODERATOR: We're going to start off this morning with a State of the Union message from Commissioner Bowlsby, Commissioner, and after he'll take some questions and answers.

COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY: Well, the answers are a little sketchy. The questions I think they'll be able to handle.

Thank you all for being here, and welcome to football season. It's nice to get started. I also want to thank and welcome the viewers on Fox Sports that are here with us off and on live this morning.

It is hard to believe that it's time to get after this again. There's been a lot of water under the bridge over the last 12 months. Lots of good football played, and lots more to be played.
In between now and the time that we actually get a chance to kick it off, we've got a couple of things going that we think are significant. One of them is we will be hosting a forum in New York City on August 6th that is intended to be a more thorough and robust vetting of some of the issues that are currently in place in college athletics.

We will be streaming it live. We will also be working to place it on electronic media in various forms. We have tried to assemble a group of individuals as panelists that have widely divergent views, and we think that there will be a lively debate on the issues.

But in my estimation, and I think the estimation of our staff, is that there really hasn't been a forum where we could have a thorough vetting of all the issues that are in play. The ins and outs of the lawsuits that are in play and right now the Big 12 Conference and several other conference brethren are defendants in seven class action lawsuits. And that number is growing all the time.

We also have lots to talk about relative to NCAA governance restructuring. There's lots to talk about in terms of just the philosophy of the collegiate model versus any other model that may be out there.

And we want it to be a resource. We expect to be having more than one of these forums. We'll likely do another one later in the fall and perhaps one in the spring around Final Four time.
But we hope that it will be interesting to all of you. I think it will delve into some areas that have heretofore not gotten a thorough consideration, and so we invite you to participate.
You see all around you the new branding initiative that the Big 12 has undertaken. There the question has frequently been asked why XII since you only have one zero, and the answer is we're numerically challenged but we think there's some real value and cache in the Big 12, not only the Big 12 artwork, but in the 20year history of our league.

The new mark that's virtually everywhere was developed by GSD&M in Austin, and it was a process that was actually begun prior to the time that I arrived and was done in conjunction with some of the changes to the conference that were previously occurring.

We picked it back up shortly after I took over at the Big 12, and we've got Jeff Orth and Chris Colton here, and I the lights are too bright; I can't see where they are. But if you guys could raise your hands. They have done a lot of good work on this logo and on the rollout that has come in the aftermath of it.

One of the things that we have done is we've gone about the process of trying to make sure that it is consistently portrayed in every usage, and that includes the proliferation of the new mark, but also withdrawing the old mark and making sure that the old XII is not any longer in popular use.

And so we have a lot of consistency. You will see it in school colors predominantly. But when you see it as a conference office representation, it will likely be in the form that you see on the front of the podium.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. And that may be true, but consistency is also what makes a good branding program.

And so you will see this on basketball floors. You'll see it on stadium turf surfaces. You'll see it on baseball and softball outfields. You will see it on uniforms, helmets.

There is a very specific guide to how we use this and why we use it and where we use it and what colors we use it.

And we've done a lot of market testing on it. It tested particularly well with the 18 to 35 demographic. And so we're very pleased to roll it out.

And I think with that, we have three PSAs that we're going to be running during the course of the football season that I think we'll let you see right now and then I'll get back to additional comments.

(PSA announcement videos.)

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Empty Netter Assists - 07-21-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Reid McNeill wants to make a statement in training camp.


-Happy 44th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Lyle Odelein (above). Infamous for his rivalry with former Penguins antagonist Matthew Barnaby - Barnaby said he looked like Cornelius from "Panet of the Apes" while Odelein simply said Barnaby had an ugly wife - Odelein's Penguins career amounted to 27 games and one assist in 2005-06. Odelein had knee surgery in February 2006 and was not re-signed in the offseason.


Atlantic Division

-The Sabres have more than a few options in goal.

(Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

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