For the second time in as many weeks, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey took a jab at the ACC regarding the conference’s schedule changes involving Clemson and Notre Dame.
The ACC of course announced at the beginning of this month that No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Notre Dame would have a bye yesterday in order to get ready for the ACC Championship Game this Saturday in Charlotte.
Clemson’s game against Florida State, which was postponed by FSU on Nov. 21, was canceled, while Notre Dame’s date with Wake Forest, which was scheduled for yesterday, was also canceled. It allowed both the Tigers and Irish a week off to prepare.
On Saturday during ESPN’s College GameDay show, Sankey was asked by host Rece Davis if his conference had thought about cancelling yesterday’s games involving No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Florida, considering the two will play in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
“None. Playing games matter,” Sankey said. “The selection committee for the College Football Playoff Committee has said that and we will have a chance to demonstrate the excellent football in the Southeastern Conference today. I did not really have any pushback from our teams. They are ready to play and have these opportunities.
“I think playing games matter. … So, the question is, are we going to be rewarded for playing games or rewarded for not playing games.”
Sankey took another shot at the ACC a week earlier when he questioned the league’s move to give both the Tigers and Irish an open date before the ACC title game.
“It begs one question: If their two most highly ranked teams were, for instance, [ranked] five and six in the CFP Rankings, would this decision have been made,” Sankey told CBS Sports.
“We committed to playing a 10-game schedule, which is certainly unique to see some other decisions this week,” he added, obviously referring to the ACC, “where they indicated one direction and they changed at the last minute.”
On Sunday during the ACC Championship Game coaches press conference, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney responded to Sankey implying that the ACC was trying to “protect” Clemson and Notre Dame and clear an easier path for getting two teams from the conference in the College Football Playoff.
“I mean, if the ACC was trying to really protect Clemson and Notre Dame, why would we even play the game this week?” Swinney said. “I mean, if six wins can get you in the playoffs, shouldn’t nine get you there, shouldn’t 10 get you there? So, if the ACC was really trying to protect Clemson and Notre Dame, we wouldn’t even play this game. But that’s not what we’re about. We want to crown a worthy champion. It’s going to be an awesome game. It’s going to be awesome.”
Swinney again made it clear that his team wanted to play its scheduled game at Florida State on Nov. 21, but didn’t get the chance to when the Seminoles postponed the game due to Clemson having a player test positive for COVID-19 the night before the game, even though the Tigers followed all protocols set forth by the ACC in order to make the game happen.
Had Clemson been able to play FSU, it would have completed its full 11-game schedule. Instead, the Tigers (9-1, 8-1 ACC) finished the regular season having played 10.
Swinney also said he would have had no issue with his team playing yesterday.
“I would have loved to have played this past weekend. I had no problem with that. I didn’t make that decision,” Swinney said. “We wanted to play when we were down in Tallahassee. We were about to get on a bus and go play. Things happen, just like it has all over the place, things you don’t control. All you can do is control whatever goes on. But they made this decision, and we’ve played 10 games. Notre Dame’s played 10 games. We’re excited to go play a championship, crown a worthy champion of this league and go from there.
“So, I think if the league was trying to protect that, you wouldn’t even play the game, to be honest with you. But that’s not what Notre Dame wants, that’s not what we want – we want to go play the game. So, there you go.”
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