Normally, Clemson hosting The Citadel would not be a big television draw. But its not normal for a Power 5 Conference to have almost an entire weekend for itself, either.
With the exception of two games involving Big 12 teams, the ACC will have most of the college football world watching its schools play on Saturday. In all, the conference will have six games broadcasted over ESPN’s family of networks, as well as Notre Dame’s game against South Florida on the USA Network.
The Tigers’ home opener against The Citadel from Death Valley will be televised on the ACC Network at 4 p.m.
“We have great coverage every single year,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I think our league is definitely going to be strong this year. I think we maybe had ten bowl teams last year, so we had a lot of teams qualify for postseason. But I don’t think this year will be any different. I think there are much improved teams across the board and there were some teams last year that I think will be even better.”
Though some in the national media continue to claim the SEC won in the return to play war, it’s hard to argue against the ACC winning, which by the end of this weekend can have eight league games played before the SEC has even lined up and kicked off the football.
“I am incredibly thankful,” Swinney said. “I think it was the right thing to do. I don’t think there is any question about it. The right thing to do is not always the politically correct thing to do or what everybody else is doing.”
The ACC is the only Power 5 Conference that has, not only played, but it’s played conference games as well. Plus, because of its early start, the conference has already taken advantage of moving a couple of games due to COVID-19 outbreaks among its member institutions and/or opponents.
On Thursday, the league announced the Virginia at Virginia Tech game, which was scheduled to be played this Saturday as been moved to Dec. 12. The league had previously moved the NC State at Virginia Tech game from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26.
North Carolina’s game with Charlotte on Sunday was canceled after the 49ers announced they did not have enough offensive linemen to play due to COVID-19 protocols. The game could not be made up due to different bye weeks.
Regardless, the rest of the ACC seems to be full steam ahead with seven games scheduled for Saturday.
“I think the leadership of the presidents, the ACC, SEC and the Big 12, they made a decision based on the information that they had and I’m incredibly thankful for that,” Swinney said. “I respect other people’s decisions, but I’m glad it can work out for us. We have already played a game and we could have probably started earlier to be honest with you. But, hey, we are thankful we got a chance to get to work and get back to playing.”
The ACC has to be glad it is not in the position the Big Ten has put itself in. The league announced Wednesday a return to play set for Oct. 23-24.
The conference will play eight games, with no bye weeks built in. The plan is for the Big Ten to host its conference championship game on Dec. 19. The teams that do not make it to the title game will also play a ninth game on Dec. 19.
Because it waited so long to make up its mind, the Big Ten left itself no room for error should a team be unable to play because of COVID-19.
“Who knows how many games any of us are going to play? We are week-to-week around here,” Swinney said. “That’s just how we are kinda of looking at it. We’re just trying to win the day, every day. If the good Lord gives us another day tomorrow, we are just going to try and win that day.”
Again, Swinney reiterated how happy he was to see the Big Ten back in the fold.
“I am happy for the players and the coaches because they are incredibly invested in what they do,” he said. “So, for them to have a chance to go and compete and have a structure and keep them all together, I don’t have any doubt they are safer together than they are apart. So, I am happy. I am super happy for them and hopefully they will be able to be a part of the playoff.”
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