Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson defended the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday, indicating he believed the conference is perceived incorrectly by the media as inferior to the Southeastern Conference.
Coming into Tuesday night’s Georgia vs. Louisville game in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, the only postseason game in which an ACC team defeated a Power Five team was Monday night’s Clemson victory over Oklahoma.
Otherwise, Boston College lost to Penn State, Miami lost to South Carolina, North Carolina lost to Rutgers and Duke lost to Arizona State. N.C. State beat UCF, and Virginia Tech beat Cincinnati, however.
“I can tell you this,” Johnson said. “When we lined up and played Florida State, and we lined up and played Clemson, they were not different than the University of Georgia, who we played [and defeated] in the SEC East.
“Mississippi State is a good football team. So is Clemson. So is Florida State. So is Louisville. So I just think there’s probably not as big a divide as people think.”
Johnson added that the Hurricanes “had every opportunity to beat South Carolina and self-destructed. They turned the ball over.”
When asked if he was surprised at how Miami finished with a losing record — 6-7 this season — Johnson said, “You know, I have enough problems with my own team. But I do know this: It’s hard to win, and people who think winning is easy probably aren’t in the business.’’
For all the national attention aimed at South Florida’s fertile football recruiting ground, only one player on the combined Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs rosters is from South Florida. The Jackets have 16 players from Florida, but none from Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties.
The Bulldogs have two players from Florida, with 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman John Harris from Boynton Beach.
When asked what playing in “Miami’s backyard” does for recruiting, Johnson said: “Just the game in general gives you a lot of exposure. The Orange Bowl has a lot of tradition and history, and a lot of people will be watching the game.”
How has the heat been treating the Yellow Jackets? When fifth-year senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy stepped off the plane Friday, the player from Lakeland must have thought he was in a steam room.
“The greeting coming off the plane was a great feeling,” he said, adding, “… All of this humidity. I’m from Florida, but still, this Miami heat is crazy.”
Temperatures rose to the mid-80s Tuesday, with Wednesday night’s forecast calling for partly cloudy conditions with temperatures in the low 70s.
“The weather has been great,” said safety Jay Hughes, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “Good, hot and moist.”
Hughes said the most interesting thing he has seen since arriving in South Florida has been the diversity.
“There are so many different languages and so many different people,” he said. “In Mississippi, we don’t see that every day. It’s been a good atmosphere, man. The Orange Bowl — everything has been cool.”
MATTER OF OPINION
Senior Yellow Jackets linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, from Lakeland, was told by a reporter that he heard 6-7, 365-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman Shamire Devine had “the most beautiful body of all time.”
“Are my sources correct?” the reporter asked.
Said Nealy: “Yeah, your sources are correct. The guy’s pecs, from his arms to that sloppy six-pack. I’d say it’s the best body that has been on Miami Beach.”