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Could Clemson football kick off the ACC Network?

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — One of the many topics athletic directors, coaches and conference officials are discussing this week at the Atlantic Coast Conference spring meetings from the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island, Fla., is the opening weekend for the 2019 college football season.

That August weekend is of interest because it will be the first big sports weekend for the conference’s new linear network. The ACC, in conjunction with its partners at ESPN, will launch the linear ACC Network sometime in August of 2019.

Like the SEC did when it debuted the SEC Network in 2014, the ACC is looking into the possibility of playing big-time conference games to give the network more appeal so cable providers might want to carry the network.

One of the games being discussed for the opening weekend is Clemson’s game against Georgia Tech in Death Valley. There is a possibility this could be the first football game televised on the linear network as discussions have it kicking off in primetime on Thursday, August 29, 2019.

“There has been some talk about that, nothing has been finalized yet,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said to The Clemson Insider on Tuesday. “I think we are looking at the schedule in that first week in total, starting on Thursday, then Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday. That is one of the focuses of the group at ESPN, our partner, in launching the network and starting it off with a splash. But the matchups and things have not been finalized yet.”

Clemson has not played on a Thursday night in Death Valley since it beat Georgia Tech, 55-31, on November 14, 2013.

“As a member of the league we played a Thursday night game a few years ago. We are not on the regular rotation at our request,” Radakovich said. “Occasionally, the last one would have been ’13 and we are talking about ’19. There is some space between that if it ends up being that Thursday night.”

Radakovich says he understands opening on a Thursday night takes away from the Clemson Experience for fans on what they are used to but there are some positives from it as well. First off, they will have all summer to prepare for Georgia Tech and secondly, they get 10 days to prepare for Texas A&M, who comes to Death Valley on September 7, 2019.

“First off we have the greatest fans in the ACC and when the Tigers play they are going to be there,” Radakovich said. “We have had Thursday night games in the past, again, not regularly and that is of our choosing. The league understands that. There are other places in the league where Thursday night games are a little bit more of an institution than what they would be at Clemson.

“If to start off the ACC Network with a former national champion or hopefully a defending national champion at that point in time, we are happy to do so to move the ACC Network forward.”

Clemson is scheduled to open that season against Wofford on August 31, 2019, but the game could be moved to the week before the South Carolina game or sometime earlier.

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