Dabo Swinney received support for Clemson's ACC title push from perhaps the unlikeliest of sources.
Swinney said that during post-game handshakes following Saturday's 34-17 defeat at USC, Steve Spurrier offered that he had been in a similar situation several times while coaching at Florida.
The 25th-ranked Tigers face No. 12 Georgia Tech on Saturday in the ACC championship in Tampa, Fla.
"He said, 'You know what, I lost to Florida State many times. But I'd turn around and go win the conference the next week,'" Swinney said Tuesday. "And he said, 'That's what's important, and you guys can do it. Good luck to you. Go get it done.'"
Swinney said he received several text messages from USC assistants but intimated he was caught off-guard by Spurrier's attempted pick-me-up.
It backed Swinney's belief that while the rivalry has its significance, the conference title should hold greater importance.
"I thought that was very nice of him, very encouraging," Swinney said. "He didn't have to say that to me, so I appreciated that encouragement."
Gator goners. With Virginia Tech apparently the Chick-fil-A Bowl's ACC selection regardless of Saturday's outcome, the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., goes on the clock.
It continues to appear the Gator doesn't want anything to do with the financial drawback of taking the ACC title-game loser.
The Gator, believed to favor Miami over Clemson if the Tigers were available, now has interest in selecting Florida State for Bobby Bowden's final game, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.
But in order to do so, the ACC and its title-game loser - among others - would have to sign off on the Gator skirting the league rule prohibiting its tie-ins from choosing a team more than one ACC loss worse than the best available team. In ACC play, Clemson went 6-2 and FSU 4-4.
There is also the matter of the NCAA rule prohibiting six-win teams from being chosen before all seven-win teams from a conference are selected.
Nonetheless, the ACC championship loser appears headed to the Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., to face Northwestern.
River of deceit. The Sept. 10 meeting between Clemson and Georgia Tech supplied a pair of controversial plays the ACC later deemed illegal for violating a rule prohibiting substitution tactics that may confuse the opponent.
The Yellow Jackets went ahead 21-0 on a fake field goal touchdown pass in which receiver Demaryius Thomas hid by the sideline. Clemson later ran a similar play and connected on a 37-yard pass to Marquan Jones that set up its game-tying field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
"(ACC director of football officials) Doug Rhoads said if we had an illegal play, he'd come down out of the press box and flag it himself," Swinney said.
Truth in advertising. Senior running back C.J. Spiller said the emotion hit after the USC game that his career is winding to a close.
Spiller, featured in a $128,000, full-page, color ad in Monday's USA Today, is one of six players set to graduate Dec. 17.
"Tim (Bourret, Clemson's sports information director) keeps telling me to make sure I graduate so they don't have to go back and reprint," Spiller said.
Extra points. Swinney finished second in ACC Coach of the Year voting to Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson. Johnson had 24 of 40 possible votes, with Swinney landing 10 and Duke's David Cutcliffe next with four. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Parker tied for a distant third in Freshman of the Year voting with four votes, as Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams (34) edged Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly (29).