Kelly says Notre Dame could opt out if parents can’t attend game
Dabo Swinney says if the Rose Bowl cannot host any fans this year, especially the players’ parents from the two teams playing, then the College Football Playoff should punt and find another venue.
Like his ACC Championship Game counterpart at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, Clemson’s head coach believes the CFP needs to do right by the student-athletes of the four playoff teams and make sure their semifinal games are played in venues that can host at least some fans and especially the parents.
Kelly in his press conference to preview Saturday’s ACC Championship Game blasted the Rose Bowl and the CFP after he was asked a question if Notre Dame should still get in the playoff regardless of the game’s outcome.
Clemson and Notre Dame are ranked No. 3 and No. 2 in the CFP Committee’s ranking and the winner of the ACC Championship Game will likely be selected to play in the Rose Bowl if Alabama is to beat Florida in the SEC Championship game.
The Sugar Bowl, who has a longstanding relationship with the SEC, will likely get Alabama if the Crimson Tide wins the SEC. The Sugar Bowl has already announced it will be hosting fans, reportedly, around 5,000. But because of California’s stringent pandemic regulations, the Rose Bowl, at this time, will not be allowed to host any fans.
“I’m not sure we’ll play in the playoffs if parents can’t be there, to be honest with you,” Kelly said. “Why would we play if you can’t have the families at the game?”
Swinney did not go as far as Kelly in his response, but he understood where the Notre Dame coach was coming from.
“There are plenty of venues. If for whatever the reason it does not work then punt and push it to next year to where you can have that opportunity,” the Tigers’ coach said. “I just think you try to have fairness for the four playoff teams.
“There are plenty of venues where you can have fans and have an atmosphere for these kids who have worked all year. I mean, we have played in front of fans all year and we have had an incredible experience. We had very few issues. Our guys have done an amazing job. Our administration has done an amazing job. There are plenty of stadiums where you can have fans and you certainly can have families. I think it would be really sad at this point to be in a playoff game and these players’ families could not be there. I think that would be a poor decision. Again, in a year where everybody has had to have flexibility and make adjustments along the way, I think that would be a mistake.”
Kelly indicated his players have already come and expressed their concerns about their parents not being able to attend the game should they be selected to the Rose Bowl. He said he is speaking on their behalf and the team is definitely going to have a vote if the Irish are picked for the Rose Bowl.
Swinney said his players have not brought this issue up to him, but they will cross that bridge if they get into the CFP. However, he did go one to say it is not fair to the student-athletes and their families if parents are not allowed to watch their sons play.
“It makes no sense to me to put a bunch of kids on a plane and fly them all the way to California to play in an empty stadium. That makes zero sense when you have plenty of stadiums right here where you can have fans,” Swinney said. “Most importantly, you can have families. There is a stipend involved too. Families get $2,500 to be able to go to the game. It should be the same for all four teams, as far as the opportunity that you have fans, parents, etc.
“This is a year everyone had to make adjustments and to me that would be a pretty simple one to make. I have dreamed about going to the Rose Bowl, always have. It is the only big bowl I have not been in and that has always been a dream of mine to be able to experience the Rose Bowl, but who knows.”
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