Dabo Swinney has not been short on making his feelings and thoughts known regarding Clemson’s Nov. 21 game at Florida State being postponed.
At the time, Swinney requested either a forfeit from the Seminoles or, if the game was rescheduled, he wanted them to either have to come to Clemson to play or pick up the Tigers’ travel cost for a return trip to Tallahassee, Fla.
Clemson did not get the forfeit, but it will not have to return to Tallahassee either.
Following a recommendation from the ACC’s Athletic Director football subcommittee, the league’s Athletic Directors voted Tuesday to preserve the integrity of the ACC Football Championship Game by evaluating each of the three teams in contention (Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame) based on a nine-game conference schedule. As a result, Clemson and Notre Dame will conclude the regular season this weekend.
Translation, Clemson’s game at Florida State has officially been canceled. As a result, Notre Dame has already clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game, which will be played on Dec. 19 in Charlotte, while the Tigers can earn a berth with a win at Virginia Tech on Saturday.
“It is just Tuesday in 2020. That is just the way it is,” Swinney said during his weekly press conference earlier in the day. “I am just trying to win the day and have a great Tuesday practice. That is it. You better be lite on your feet in 2020.”
Clemson’s game at Florida State on Nov. 21 was originally postponed after a Clemson player tested positive for COVID-19 the night before the game. The Seminoles decided they did not want to play the game three hours before kickoff because they were worried about contact tracing among the Clemson team and how it could affect their team.
However, Clemson had followed all protocols and procedures outlined by the ACC and its medical staff let it be known they did not agree with the decision of the FSU administration, which is what led to Swinney being outspoken about the issue and going to bat for his own medical staff.
“We did not get to play the game, but we had a runaway bride. We were walking down the aisle. So, we were prepared,” Swinney said. “It is not like you did not get to play. You work all week, and you prepare.”
Swinney said Clemson was ready to do whatever the ACC wanted it to do, but he wanted his opinion on the situation heard.
“I think if we have to play a game, I think we should have to play the game that was scheduled,” he said. “That is what I think. We should not have to prepare for a twelve game. We had an eleventh game scheduled and we should have to play the game we were prepared to play. If we are supposed to play a game.”
Ultimately, the ACC heard Clemson and Virginia, too. The Cavaliers traveled to Tallahassee last Saturday only to be turned away on game day too, when FSU conveniently announced it only had 44 scholarship players available to play, a situation that likely could have been decided prior to Virginia traveling to Florida State.
Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall, like Swinney, also said his team was not going to return to Tallahassee. The Seminoles’ actions gave the ACC no choice but to cancel both games.
The Cavaliers will play Boston College on Saturday and then will close out the regular season at Virginia Tech on Dec. 12, in a game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season.
Wake Forest was scheduled to play Notre Dame on Dec. 12, but that game was canceled, too. The Demon Deacons will now play at Louisville. Florida State will play host to Duke on Saturday, Dec. 12, and Florida State will travel to Wake Forest on Dec. 19.
Should a game or games involving Clemson, Miami or Notre Dame not be played this weekend, the ACC has the option to reschedule games on Dec. 12 as needed. Based on the current standings and results to date, Notre Dame holds all tiebreakers and has therefore secured a berth in the ACC Football Championship Game.
In addition, following guidance from its Medical Advisory Group, adjustments to the testing of football teams have been made. Each team will be required to have a PCR test administered on Thursday with a result prior to the visiting team traveling to the game locale.
The Chief Medical Officers from each team will confirm results and attest that there is every expectation that the game will be played. While the Medical Advisory Group has not identified evidence of virus transmission during competition, this adjustment will mitigate the chances of unnecessary interaction between team members and outside individuals that are inevitable during travel.
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