GREENSBORO, N.C. — Before the interrogator even finished his question, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner broke into a wide grin.
He knew exactly where the inquiry was going. He has heard the chatter. He has read the preseason magazines. He's familiar with the speculation. All of it claims one thing: that Clemson will be the team to beat in the ACC this season.
"We love that," Joyner said Sunday, cutting off a reporter who was asking his thoughts about the prospect of his Seminoles being deemed the preseason's No. 2 team in the conference.
He better have loved it, because by Monday afternoon, that was exactly where the Seminoles were.
As part of the ACC media days, the league released the results of an anonymous media poll.
To little surprise, media members picked Clemson to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Seminoles were No. 2, according to the vote.
While only 18 voters gave FSU a first-place vote in the division standings, 102 picked Clemson No. 1.
More than 90 voters also picked the Tigers to win the ACC title. The defending champion Seminoles were picked to repeat by 15 voters.
FSU doesn't seem offended by the second-place ranking.
"Good luck with that, Clemson," Joyner said, smiling a day before the results were announced. "Woe to them because that's a lot of pressure."
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was more reserved about the predicted order, but he understood Joyner's message.
"I don't think being picked first really helps you," Fisher said. "We have to control what we can control, and that's how we play; to play every game as if it's an important game and to play our best."
He added that he didn't think his players would be insulted by the snub because paying attention to the preseason chatter isn't part of the team's identity.
"If that is our key motivation that makes us want to win, then we're not the program I thought we were," Fisher said.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn't upset that his team is the preseason favorite, but downplayed it, saying: "It's so irrelevant. It really is.''
The fifth-year head coach brought to a recent team meeting a preseason magazine that featured his star quarterback, Tajh Boyd, on the cover. During the meeting, he threw the magazine in the trash. As important as Boyd may be to his team, the expectation for success meant nothing to Swinney.
"No offense to whoever wrote the magazine (article), but it really is that irrelevant," Swinney said. "Past performance is why people make predictions, but it has nothing to do with the present day. You have to have the same commitment, the same fundamentals, you've got to pay the price, you've got to earn it all over again."
During the past six seasons, the home team in the Clemson-FSU series has won the head-to-head meeting. On Oct. 19, the teams play at Clemson.
Joyner said visiting the Tigers' stadium wasn't "a walk in the park … it's a walk down a dark alley."
Yet Joyner welcomed the opportunity to put at least one hurdle in the Tigers' path.
"I know how that feeling can get," Joyner said of being the preseason pick to win the conference. "So good luck with that. We like the fact that the attention has shifted to someone else."