Kickoff Game wants Jackets for 2017 game

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan has an ambitious plan for the start of the 2017 season when the new Falcons stadium is scheduled to open, one that potentially involves Georgia Tech.

Stokan is considering playing three games at the new stadium on the season’s opening weekend, Thursday, Saturday and Monday. He is interested in having the Yellow Jackets play in either the Thursday or Monday games. Tech officials have indicated their interest in playing in the kickoff game at some point, possibly 2017.

“We do want to get Georgia Tech to come play in the kickoff game,” Stokan said.

There have been as many as two Chick-fil-A Kickoff games played at the Georgia Dome – there will be two this season – but never three. If Tech were to play in the Thursday game, it likely would be the first-ever regular-season football game in the new stadium.

Stokan said he wants to find an SEC opponent for Tech in the game and has spoken with conference athletic directors about interest and availability. With the College Football Playoff selection committee to begin assigning teams to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (and other bowls in the playoff rotation) this season, Stokan is trying to create ACC-SEC matchups in the kickoff game, following on the popularity of the pairing when the bowl game was contracted with the two conferences.

Tech is scheduled to play Ole Miss in 2017 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but Stokan said his group would not move that game to the kickoff game. That would likely mean Tech and Ole Miss would likely have to re-schedule or cancel the game, as Tech would be opposed to playing three SEC teams in one season – Ole Miss, Georgia and the kickoff-game opponent.

Duke coach says ACC can equal SEC: Duke coach David Cutcliffe did everything but jump on a table and start chanting "ACC! ACC!"

The former Ole Miss coach and longtime Tennessee assistant proclaimed bright days ahead for the conference at the ACC Kickoff.

“I see that over the next 10 years, we’re a league that can explode, truly explode,” Cutcliffe said.

Cutcliffe pegged his aspirations on a few factors, including the addition of Louisville expanding the conference’s recruiting reach, the conference’s footprint (which has the largest population and most television households of any conference in the country), the variety and quality of colleges within the conference and the number of NFL draftees the conference produces annually (second to the SEC three of the past four years). Further, he touted Florida State’s national championship and the 11 bowl teams last season.

He said the ACC can “absolutely” gain equal footing with the SEC, whose teams had won the previous seven national championships prior to the Seminoles.

Cutcliffe was backed up by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who likewise said he “absolutely” believed ACC teams could win a string of national titles.

“What the SEC has done, and we haven’t done yet, is the SEC has shown the consistency,” Swinney said. “They’ve put a run together and hopefully the ACC can do the same thing. We’re going to have to go out there and do it two or three years before anybody’s really jumping on the bandwagon fully.”

Jackets picked fifth: Georgia Tech was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division in the ACC preseason media poll, released Monday. It is the lowest projection for the Yellow Jackets going at least back to 2005, when the ACC split into two divisions. The conference expanded to 14 teams last season.

The projected order of finish for the division is Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Virginia. Defending Coastal champ Duke had never been picked higher than fifth prior to this year’s poll.

To no one’s surprise, Florida State was picked as the Atlantic Division and league champion. The Seminoles received 104 of 108 votes to win the ACC title for a third consecutive season.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, winner of the 2013 Heisman Trophy, was the runaway favorite to be named ACC player of the year, receiving 99 of 108 votes.

Tech has a strong history of outperforming its projection. In coach Paul Johnson’s first six seasons, the Jackets’ average projection was 3.2, but their average finish was 1.7.