Several times during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney either brought up on his own or was asked about the unique challenges his football team has faced this year in trying to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been important. It has been important for our country. It has been important to these young men’s lives,” Swinney said. “I am thankful we have been able to navigate it. It did not go perfect, but we have been able to navigate to this point.”
Clemson (9-1, 8-1 ACC) has got to the point where it will play for a sixth straight ACC Championship on Saturday against No. 2 Notre Dame at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. As Swinney pointed out several times, a lot of work and sacrifice went in to getting to this point in the college football season. There were people behind the scenes no one even thinks about—such as medical trainers, doctors, nutrition staff, cooks, and administrators—who put in a lot of time and work to make sure they all can get to the point to play the games.
Swinney was very thankful to everyone who has worked diligently to make sure college football was played this fall. He was also thankful to the ACC for being a leader and finding a plan to play with built in flexibility to make sure each team could find a way to play.
“I was a part of that committee. I know how the sausage was made if you will,” Swinney said. “I was a part of all of it. All summer. I think the league got it right.”
Heading into Saturday’s ACC Championship Game, the ACC has played 85 games, more than any other conference in college football, and just four games were canceled. The ACC had three built in bye weeks and each team got a guaranteed two bye weeks during the course of the season.
“The way the schedule was laid out. The flexibility built in. When we started. I wish we would have started a week earlier,” Swinney said. “But that is kind of what we settled on when we started. It has worked out great. We knew there were going to be challenges. Everybody did, but I think we played probably more games than anybody. Our league has done an incredible job. They really have.”
Now that they are ready to crown a champion on Saturday night in Charlotte, Swinney feels the ACC deserves credit for doing all it can to make sure there was a college football season.
“There is no doubt about that. I am just thankful that we got the opportunity and thankful, not for just the ACC, but the SEC and the Big 12 for having the courage to push forward and allow these young people to play,” he said.
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