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Swofford says Terps 'deserve the very best of the ACC' in final season

College FootballAtlantic Coast ConferenceMaryland TerrapinsFootballJohnny ManzielMiami Hurricanes

After 60 years in the ACC, one of the conference's original members, Maryland, will make its long-anticipated exit at the end of this upcoming academic calendar year. The Terps will be joining Rutgers in making a move to the Big Ten.

One could make a claim that until the move is official 11 months from now, Maryland is a lame duck, living in a sort of conference realignment-driven limbo.

ACC commissioner John Swofford does not count himself among those who believe that.

"Maryland's been an excellent member of this league since 1953," Swofford said Sunday afternoon during a forum that opened this year's ACC Kickoff. "Their coaches and their athletes, in playing their last year in our league, deserve the very best of the ACC. And that's what they will receive."

Two pending lawsuits — the first of which was filed by the ACC — might have some Terps fans bristling at Swofford's call for fairness and equity.

Just after Maryland announced last November its plans to leave for the Big Ten, the ACC filed a suit claiming the Terps owed more than $52 million in exit fees. Maryland then countered with its own suit, citing the exit fee as being anti-competitive. In December, the ACC withheld a portion of Maryland's conference distribution as an "offset" to the exit fee.

Late last month, a Maryland judge dismissed a portion of the lawsuit, offering a ruling that favored the ACC. Swofford declined to give an update to the legal matters pertaining to Maryland's forthcoming departure.

"Litigation, I'm really not going to speak to that," he said. "Our lawyers will handle that. But from our perspective, what little has been done at this point, I'd say is so far, so good."

Miami QB says Johnny Manziel isn't so bad

With his public image suffering, Johnny Manziel has at least one fan in the ACC.

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris got to know the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this month. Morris was unaware of the controversy surrounding Manziel's early departure until well after the fact.

He also painted a picture that contrasts with the public image.

"He's a very cool guy, very down to earth," Morris said Sunday. "He has all these accolades and he's still talking to everybody who came up to him — all the fans who were there at the camp. He spent time taking pictures and signing autographs which says a lot.

"He's a humble guy and a funny guy to be around, No. 1. But I think he's a great guy."

So does he take a bad rap?

"I just think the media wants to put it a certain way," Morris said. "But Johnny's a great guy."

That didn't mean Morris wasn't competitive with Manziel and the other top passers in the country. He won the skills competition and created significant buzz around his senior season.

He came away with one other observation: The ACC quarterbacks are superior to the rest of the country.

"The SEC is known for defense," Morris said. "But the ACC has a lot of talented quarterbacks."

Swofford: Don't pay players

Among the myriad topics Swofford covered in his approximately 40-minute speech was one that dealt with the unending debate concerning compensating student-athletes.

He made it clear he does not favor paying them.

"I just don't think that's what college athletics is about," Swofford said.

He added that he was all for re-evaluating the way some financial support is given to athletes based on their individual financial needs. Some have made an argument that some sort of scaled stipend for such athletes could be doable.

"Personally," Swofford began, "this is not one that I can tell you the majority of our schools support at this point in time. But the full cost of attendance as a scholarship would be helpful."

Quotable

FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner on having to travel to Clemson on Oct. 19 for arguably the Seminoles' biggest conference game of the season: "It's not going to be a walk in the park. It's going to be a walk down a dark alley."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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College FootballAtlantic Coast ConferenceMaryland TerrapinsFootballJohnny ManzielMiami Hurricanes
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