By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
Even before the kick that took your breath away on New Year’s Eve, Dan Radakovich was at peace while all around him were in knots.
Watching the Clemson football team rally to beat then No. 7 LSU reassured Clemson’s new athletic director that the program was in capable hands.
“A lot of times when you get into those circumstances, the ball bounces funny ways,” Radakovich said recently. “That doesn’t always tell you what your eyes told you watching the game.”
Barely two months into the job and very much in a mode of listening, learning and evaluating, Radakovich said the Chick-fil-A Bowl reaffirmed his sense of Coach Dabo Swinney’s program.
“The great effort, the camaraderie, the way the kids never quit. The way the coaches coached very hard during the game,” he said. “That was important to see.”
Though he certainly would have been disappointed had Chandler Catanzaro not received an opportunity to win the game outright as time expired, Radakovich said the process was reassuring.
“Near the ending part of the fourth quarter when the game was really in the balance, I was really at ease because that was a great effort that they put forward there,” he said. “A lot of times great efforts are rewarded, and sometimes great efforts are not rewarded.
“I knew there were a lot of real positives that this program could continue to into in 2013,” he said. “That was a good feeling.
“Now, we were able to get the other half of it and get the win, and that made it even better.”
So as Swinney finishes the work toward signing his next freshman class, and the returning members of the team ease into winter conditioning with spring drills maybe six weeks away, Radakovich said he liked the program’s direction and the man charting the course.
Radakovich says Swinney will continue under his current contract, which was retooled after last season and extended through 2017.
“I think Clemson football under Dabo’s leadership is very, very healthy,” he said. “I think we have some outstanding young men representing Clemson within our football program, and that comes from the great leadership at the top.
“We have a great schedule. I think it gives us a really good chance to be successful.”
Radakovich said he did not anticipate another period of conference free agency, which led to this expanded and reconfigured ACC.
“If your question is will football ever secede,” he said, “I would probably find that discussion and the path of that conversation something that may be a bit more plausible than a massive change of conferences for a lot of people.
“I don’t think we would do that independently.”
Encouraged by what he termed the ACC’s open-minded approach to tapping additional revenue streams. He said he felt that with Louisville and Notre Dame joining the league the TV agreement with ESPN would be further expanded. The next step may be the ACC Network.
“We need to look and understand what opportunities exist there for us, either singularly or in partnership with other leagues,” he said. “I think we are at a point right now where the ideas of collaboration need to be explored.
“Our football product has been and will be getting better. You have the Orange Bowl champion, the Chick-fil-A Bowl champion and the Sugar Bowl champion all coming into the conference. That’s not a bad way to start.”